Riley and Cleopatra’s Smile were sitting in first place after the first round, returning last to test their abilities in the handy. Navigating the handy round with precision and beauty, the duo ended the day with a blue ribbon. Having only been partnered as a team since this past March, Riley was thrilled with the mare’s performance today on the large derby field.
“She is new at this, so I tried to take as much time as possible to get to the first jump to allow her to take a breath by the time I was there. Everything rode exactly like I planned it,” Riley detailed.
Cleopatra’s Smile, a 9-year-old-mare, was competing in the jumpers when Riley imported her from Europe and knew the horse was destined to be a derby horse. “Whenever I go to Europe to try a horse to be a hunter, I let them loose to see what they do. A lot of them don’t understand, but she got it by the second jump. She is really smart and really easy,” she explained.
“I am not used to looking at the jumps so far away. I saw the distance fifteen strides out and I was thinking to myself ‘You can’t see a distance that far away,’ but it all worked out and was a lot of fun,” Riley added.
Standing out in the Team USA red show jumping jacket, Riley touched on her choice of outfit saying, “I don’t own a shad belly and never have. Even as a junior I didn’t own one. I was reading the derby rules for proper attire and it says that if you have ridden for a U.S. team and have a red coat, you are allowed to wear it, so I thought why not? It goes with my grey mare and a blue ribbon!”