Peter Lutz and Retiro – photo courtesy of SportFot.
Calgary, Alberta – July 5, 2017 – Spruce Meadows is one of the top destinations for the world’s elite show jumping athletes. For the team at Gallagher/Meller, it has become a staple on their summer calendar, and during the Pan American CSI5* tournament Peter Lutz piloted Robin De Ponthual and Retiro to top finishes for the United States and owners Katherine Gallagher and M. Michael Meller.
On Sunday, just over a year after their victory in the 2016 $375,000 CP Grand Prix CSI5*, Lutz and Robin De Ponthual scored the second place prize in the $380,000 Pan American CSI5* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex. The pair was the first to return for the three-horse jump-off, setting the pace with a clear effort in 53.97 seconds, which would be good enough for second place honors.
“The course was tough, but Robin likes this ring and did well here last year,” noted Lutz. “He’s been good since we’ve been here, and everything fell into place today. The course designer, Peter Grant, used the entire field and I think that suits Robin. He has a big stride and covers a lot of ground. Going first I was a little bit tentative. I really wanted to put the clear in and put the pressure on the others. It was a really great jump-off and Robin jumped beautifully.”
The top finish on Sunday came just one day after Lutz and Retiro scored the third place award in the Friends of the Meadow Cup. “Sometimes that’s a nice turning point,” said Lutz. “If another horse does well it keeps the momentum going. Everyone was really positive and in a good frame of mind today, and I think that’s really important.”
On Saturday, 11 horses qualified for the jump-off during the 1.50m classic, with six producing a second clear effort. Lutz and Retiro clocked in at 45.26 seconds with all of the rails intact, just two seconds off the leader’s winning pace for third place honors.
“I was so happy with Retiro,” expressed Lutz. “He has had some really good rounds and had just one rail down the day before, so he was really on his game. I feel like I’ve gotten to know him this year and I’ve really developed a partnership with that horse. He’s gotten physically stronger and I know him better.”
Lutz concluded, “It all comes down to believing in the team and having a good partnership with the horse. That’s clicked this year with that horse. I really trust him and I know him.”
The team includes owner and trainer M. Michael Meller, who was thrilled to have both horses achieve such outstanding performances at the world-class venue. “This has been a wonderful week for the team here. We made a plan for this week and it really paid off. Peter, Robin and the entire team have worked really hard and it is exciting to see it all come together like this.”
The Gallagher/Meller team will continue to compete at Spruce Meadows before heading back to the United States for the Hampton Classic and the American Gold Cup. The Gallagher/Meller team would like to thank all of their sponsors for all of their support, including EquiFit, CWD, KEP Italia, Galante, Fabbri Boots, Equine Omega Complete, Equi In Style, Superior Equestrian and Éce Equestrian. For more information about the team, please visit www.gallaghermeller.com.
12 September 2016, Spruce Meadows, Canada – The CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Canada is one of the three equestrian Majors that form the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and is one of the most prestigious Grand Prix on the international circuit.
Re-live the excitement of the five-day competition at the world’s leading venue, as the finest riders compete for the prestigious Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping title.
Please find below a short copyright free news film, presented by Rolex.
Calgary, Alta. – The United States’ McLain Ward and HH Azur went head-to-head against Great Britain’s Scott Brash and Ursula XII in a nail-biting jump-off at the CP International Grand Prix presented by Rolex on Sunday. Because the defending champions went triple-clear, Ward and HH Azur needed to complete the jump-off less than 41.19 seconds. Unfortunately, they had a rail at fence two, a Rolex vertical, to end on four faults for second place. Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca and Ensor De Litrange LXII finished third with one time fault. Kent Farrington and Voyeur, also part of the U.S. contingent, finished just outside the top three with four faults.
“I thought she [HH Azur] jumped in great form. She is still a young horse and learning against the clock, and she jumped three rounds. That gets better with maturity. I think as amazing as she is, the future is bright for her,” said Ward.
The biggest Grand Prix in the world lived up to its hype. Leopoldo Palacios designed two challenging courses that tested all 40 combinations. In the first round, 21 combinations accumulated faults. A daunting triple combination with two liverpools forced 12 combinations to retire. However, Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) demonstrated why they are Olympic Team Silver medalists, as each got past the triple combination with ease. They joined Brash and De Luca as the only four combinations to post clear first rounds.
The top 12 advanced to the second round where they faced a new set of jumps. Ward and HH Azur, Double H Farms and Francois Mathy’s 2006 Belgian Warmblood mare, continued with a clear round, while Farrington and Voyeur, Amalaya Investments’ 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding, added four faults with a rail down at element “A” of the double combination. Brash and Ward advanced to the jump-off, the fourth jump-off in Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Grand Prix history.
Quentin Judge (Wellington, Fla.) and Richard Spooner (Agua Dulce, Calif.) also competed as part of the U.S. contingent but did not advance to the second round. Judge and HH Conrad, Double H Farms’ 2005 Holsteiner stallion, finished on eight faults. Spooner and Cristallo, Show Jumping Syndication International’s 1998 Holsteiner gelding, ended on 12 faults.
Scott Brash and Ursula XII. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB – For the second year in a row, Great Britain’s Scott Brash took the win in the biggest Grand Prix in show jumping competing at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5*. On Sunday, September 11, Brash and Ursula XII were the winners of the $3 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, in a thrilling jump-off against USA’s McLain Ward and HH Azur. Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Ensor de Litrange LXII finished third.
Brash also won the $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex, in 2015, along with taking the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping for the first time in history. The prize money was even bigger this year, initially listed as $2 million, and then jumping up to $3 million in an additional increase made by CP just prior to the event. For his win alone, Brash took home a check of $1 million.
Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) set difficult tracks for Sunday’s competition, held over two rounds. A challenging oxer-oxer-vertical triple combination set next to the in-gate with double liverpools was responsible for many faults in the first round. Only four entries were able to clear the first round course without fault.
The top twelve entries in the first round were then invited to return for round two in reverse order of penalties. The twelve that returned included the four clear rounds, as well as seven competitors carrying four faults, and one entry on five faults.
The four best entries from round one were able to maintain their positions on top of the leaderboard after the second round. Scott Brash and McLain Ward each jumped clear in round two to move on to a third round for an exciting head-to-head jump-off. Brash was first to go on the short course with Ursula XII and set the challenge with a clear round in 41.19 seconds. Ward followed with HH Azur, but dropped one rail to solidify a second place finish in a time of 43.11 seconds.
Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca just missed out on the jump-off with a single time fault in round two, leaving the rider in third place overall with Stephex Stable’s Ensor de Litrange LXII. Kent Farrington (USA) was clear in round one and dropped one rail in round two to finish with four faults. Kevin Staut (FRA) also finished on four faults in total with a rail in round one and a clear in round two. Their tie was broken by first round times, leaving Farrington and Amalaya Investment’s Voyeur in fourth place, and Staut aboard For Joy Van’t Zorgvliet HDC in fifth place.
The biggest Grand Prix in the sport, the CP International is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, which was won for the first time by Brash on a historic occasion in 2015. Brash and Hello Sanctos topped three consecutive grand prix competitions in Geneva, Aachen, and then Calgary to earn the title. Though he was not in contention for the Grand Slam this year – he finished a close second in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen with Ursula XII in July – winning the CP International for the second year in a row was just as exciting for Brash.
“It is a little different, but just as good actually,” Brash stated. “I am actually so happy for my horse Ursula because it has been a long road with her. She has always been an unbelievable horse, but probably never had the recognition she deserves. She was the number one horse in the world, but never actually won a grand prix (before today). She was second so many times in so many big grand prixs, but never actually won one, so she picked a good one to win. She went through two years of injuries, and to finally get her back to the top end of this sport and then win the biggest grand prix in the world, I am absolutely over the moon, for the horse especially.”
Though several riders have won the CP International Grand Prix on more than one occasion, only Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa has previously achieved the feat of winning the competition in back-to-back years. He took the title in 2000 and 2001 aboard Gandini Lianos. Brash’s wins were with two different horses, but he had great confidence in Ursula this year, just as he had in Hello Sanctos in 2015.
Ursula XII, a 15-year-old Scottish Sport Horse mare (Ahorn x Papageno) owned by Lady P Harris and Lady P Kirkham, previously showed at Spruce Meadows with Great Britain’s Tina Fletcher in 2012 and jumped well during that time.
“I know her very well and I was always quite confident that she would be good in this ring, but never had the opportunity to bring her here,” Brash detailed. “I was just happy to get her here in good form to give us a chance at the grand prix, and she sure delivered today.”
With the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping on the line last year, Brash had a lot of extra pressure on his shoulders to do well. This year was different, but the jump-off with recent Rio Olympic team silver medalists McLain Ward and HH Azur presented a different kind of pressure.
“I think, to be fair, there was more pressure last year,” Brash admitted. “I do not think I was just expected to win the grand prix this year. I think all eyes were on Sanctos last year. He was in great form – he had won in Geneva and Aachen – and everyone was talking about it and the lead up to it. This year has been a lot different, but the pressure of the competition is still difficult. McLain and Azur are a fantastic combination, so I knew it was not over until he went. The pressure was on until the last moment.
“I am very confident in her because I know what a wonderful horse she is, but it was a strong field out there and when you have the likes of McLain and Azur coming behind you, you feel like you are at a bit of a disadvantage,” he continued. “Going out first in the jump-off actually probably worked in my favor this time. I knew I had to keep the poles up, but I knew I also had to do more than that to try to beat McLain, so I took a few risks and a few chances and she jumped amazing.”
Though Ward would have liked to win, his second place prize of $600,000 was still bigger than most competitions around the world, and he was very pleased with HH Azur on Sunday. The 10-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui) owned by Double H Farm and Francois Mathy has achieved a lot at a young age and only continues to improve.
“She is still a young horse and still learning a little bit to jump-off against the clock and to jump three rounds,” Ward noted. “That gets better with maturity, so I do think that as amazing as she is, the future is even brighter for her.
“If you are going to be second to anybody, being second to Scott is a good choice,” Ward added. “He is brilliant and has probably been the most on-form rider over the last several years. I am not disappointed. The horse was spectacular. That was the only fence she touched all day; I thought she jumped in great form.”
Though the course was tough for many competitors, the best horses and riders rose to the top on Sunday, and Leopoldo Palacios was happy with the final result. With the biggest payday in show jumping at stake, the competition is meant to be challenging and has only seen three jump-offs in the 40-year history of the event.
Remarking on his outcome, Palacios stated, “In reality, it is not my first time that I have used this triple combination, with the same material, in the same position. I am not very happy that there were so many problems in that combination; that was not what I expected, but at the end I think I had a very good grand prix. I want to congratulate the winners. I think the competition today was beautiful except for the problem on the liverpools. I am happy that we had a jump-off today. I have a very tough second round, and the time allowed was short, as Lorenzo can tell you. Scott and McLain did fantastic, and they deserved to have a jump-off.”
As Palacios mentioned, Lorenzo de Luca and Ensor de Litrange LXII finished third with just the one time fault in round two, but the rider was happy with his result. This was de Luca’s first trip to Spruce Meadows, and he also won a competition earlier in the week aboard Limestone Grey.
“I had a great week, so I can’t complain,” de Luca stated. “When you come to Spruce Meadows, like everyone told me and as I have watched, it should be hard. You find double ditches here just like you find in Aachen. The same combination was used in Aachen last year at the European Championships. You need to have a good horse.”
De Luca continued, “This show is amazing, and my horses jumped great. This is my first time here, and if I can come again next year, for sure I will come. I think this is the best show ever. It is proper sport, big classes, and good jump-offs. It is fantastic to be here.”
Concluding the day’s competition, Brash also remarked on the difficulty of the event, noting that the course builder set an appropriately demanding track.
“When we come to Spruce Meadows, we know what we are in for,” Brash stated. “It is the richest grand prix in the world, and it should be difficult. We know that those double of ditches are going to be in there. You do still need a special horse to be able to jump that combination. It is all very hard, but we expect it to be hard. If there were more clears, and there were six or seven in the third round, I would be disappointed with the competition. The same with Aachen – the course builder was criticized because there were no clears in the first round – but these are the hardest grand prixs in the world and they should be difficult in my opinion.”
With another fantastic win to his name, Brash heads next to compete with Ursula on the team for Great Britain at the Furusiyya FEI Nations’ Cup Finals in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of September. The mare will then have a short break before preparing for the third leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in Geneva, Switzerland, in December.
Sunday’s competition concluded the 2016 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5*. For full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Steve Guerdat and Corbinian. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Cian O’Connor and Callisto Top Suncor Energy Winning Round 1.50m
Calgary, AB – The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* hosted its BMO Nations’ Cup on Saturday afternoon with a demanding competition that came down to a thrilling jump-off for the gold medal between Switzerland and Brazil. In the end, the team from Switzerland took the win, with a second place finish for Brazil, and the host nation of Canada taking bronze.
Saturday’s highlight event saw record attendance of over 89,700 spectators – nearly 4,000 more than ever before – to watch ten teams from around the world compete for top honors. The Suncor Energy Winning Round 1.50m was also held earlier in the day with a victory for Ireland’s Cian O’Connor aboard Callisto.
On Saturday, ten teams representing the countries of Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, USA, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, France, and The Netherlands started in the first round of the BMO Nations’ Cup. The top six teams then returned for a second round over the same course, which was set by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios.
The difficult course yielded only five clear rounds out of 38 total competitors in round one. In round two, only four individuals jumped clear out of 24 starters for the top six teams.
Team Switzerland was represented by Werner Muff aboard Pollendr (who incurred 9 faults in rd. 1 and 9 faults in rd. 2), Alain Jufer riding Wiveau M (clear in rd. 1 and 1 time fault in rd. 2), Nadja Peter Steiner with Capuera II (4 and 9), and anchor rider Steve Guerdat aboard Corbinian (4 and 0). They were led by Chef d’Equipe Stephane Montavon.
Team Brazil consisted of Eduardo Menezes riding Quintol (with 8 faults in rd. 1 and 1 time fault in rd. 2), Yuri Mansur Guerios aboard Quartz de la Lande (0 and 4), Felipe Amaral with Premiere Carthoes BZ (9 and 5), and Pedro Veniss riding Quabri de l’Isle (0 and 5), led by Chef d’Equipe Lucia Faria Alegria Simoes.
After round two, Switzerland and Brazil were tied on 18 faults each and both selected one combination to jump in a tie-breaking round. Yuri Mansur Guerios and Quartz de la Lande were selected to jump-off for Team Brazil, dropping one rail in a time of 45.95 seconds over the short course. Alain Jufer and Wiveau M jumped off for Team Switzerland, securing their team’s victory with a clear round in 48.76 seconds.
As the anchor rider for Switzerland, it all came down to Steve Guerdat in round two, as his clear round was last to go and solidified the need for a jump-off for the gold medal. Guerdat was aboard Corbinian, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Cornet Obolensky x Pilot) that he owns with La Giraffa SA. Since he will also jump Corbinian in Sunday’s CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, the decision was made to send Jufer in for the tiebreaker.
“They were expecting me to go, which would have been the normal choice because my horse was still warm and he jumped really well today, but so did Alain’s horse,” Guerdat noted. “I said that I did not want to do the jump-off because there is tomorrow also. I feel that I did quite a lot for my team. I rode my best horse today, which not everybody would have done in my position with the Rolex Grand Slam coming tomorrow. I decided that I would really prefer not to go, so it was a quick change. Everybody was holding a leg, putting the studs and the boots on Alain’s horse, and he did three jumps and went on. That makes the win even better that he did such a great job.”
Guerdat and Jufer are childhood friends and have only jumped on two Nations’ Cup teams together before, both at Spruce Meadows. To win the BMO Nations’ Cup for the first time was a special event for Guerdat, made better by his friend’s added success.
“Every Nations’ Cup win is a great win. They are very tough classes to win and we do not win them often,” Guerdat stated. “I do not know how many Nations’ Cup classes I have won, but not so many. Spruce is always a special show to me and I love to come here. It is even more special to win with Alain because we grew up together and we started riding together. We are very good friends. To win in this condition just makes it even more special, so as you can imagine, it is a great day for us. We had great conditions today; we had a tough course, a nice course. The horses were jumping very well, and it was just a great afternoon of sport, and a great day for Switzerland.”
Jufer and Wiveau M were essential to the team victory, as the pair jumped clear in round one, earned just one time fault in round two, and clinched the victory with their clear jump-off round. With the quick change before the tiebreaker, Jufer did not have much time to get nervous, and put his confidence in Wiveau M, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Niveau x Concorde) owned by Lutta Gian-Battista.
“For me it was the first time to ride a jump-off this big,” Jufer detailed. “They told me I had to be clear and I tried to do my best. My horse jumped fantastic. This is the biggest stage I have won on. The feeling is amazing.”
Jufer got Wiveau M when the stallion was nine years old and explained that the horse developed to the top level quickly.
“He has always done a good job,” the rider stated. “He gives everything to go clear and he jumped fantastic today. He does so much for me.”
Nadja Peter Steiner was aboard Capuera II, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Come On x Baloubet du Rouet) owned by Hans O. Peter. Saturday was Steiner’s first Nations’ Cup win with Team Switzerland and a momentous occasion for the rider.
“For me it is an honor to be here because I do not have a lot of experience on the Nations’ Cup team at the moment,” Steiner remarked. “It was an honor to have such a great team and to win this Nations’ Cup. The feeling is just incredible. It was my first Nations’ Cup win, so there is a lot of emotion.
“My horse and I grew up a little bit together,” Steiner continued. “He never jumped big classes before, but we learned together as we moved up to this big level. He gives a lot for me; he always fights and does his best.”
The fourth member for Team Switzerland was Werner Muff aboard Pollendr, an 11-year-old Rheinlander gelding (Polytraum x Corrado) owned by Mühlebach Marlis. The pair was also a part of the winning Swiss team in Falsterbo, Sweden, over the summer and produced double clear rounds there.
Commenting on his part in Saturday’s victory, Muff stated, “To win is always a great thing. I am in the lucky position that I could be on the team that won the Nations’ Cup already this year in Falsterbo, but to win at Spruce Meadows is something really special for all of us. To win the Nations’ Cup here is something in life that you will for sure never forget.”
Muff spoke to the difficulty of Saturday’s course, which was challenging for many competitors.
“I think it was a real tough course like always at Spruce Meadows,” he said. “They have a lot of special fences that a lot of horses don’t know because in the entire world if you are on tour, you never jump special fences like here. It was great building; everything was asked. You had to have control everywhere and you had to do everything possible with the horse. There are so many riders with such good horses here that they have to ask a bit more. That is normal.”
Saturday’s win was the first ever for Team Switzerland at Spruce Meadows and Chef d’Equipe Stephane Montavon was thrilled to get the first victory. He has led the Swiss team in the event at the ‘Masters’ on 10 different occasions.
“It is a wonderful feeling to win here. We have never won here,” Montavon remarked. “It is fantastic. It is marvelous. For me as a team Chef d’Equipe it is the first time that I have won ever with the team. I am very happy.”
Canada’s Tiffany Foster and Victor were the only pair able to jump clear in both rounds of competition to help their team earn the bronze medal. Led by Chef d’Equipe Mark Laskin, Team Canada also saw rounds from Kara Chad and Bellinda (5 faults in rd. 1 and 9 faults in rd. 2), Amy Millar and Heros (9 faults and 0), and Eric Lamaze aboard Check Picobello Z (12 and Retired).
Commenting on her success, Foster stated, “This is the first time I have ever been double clear at the ‘Masters’. That is a really big moment and something that I am very proud of. I know Victor so well, and that makes a big difference in a situation like today when you have to go in first.
“The good ones rise to the occasion,” Foster noted. “I’m so proud of Victor. He is a champion. I think he likes doing Nations’ Cups in Canada. The home crowd here is so enthusiastic and so supportive. I love it when they scream and cheer!”
Team Germany finished fourth, Team USA placed fifth, and Team Belgium rounded out the top six in round two. France, Mexico, Great Britain, and The Netherlands finished out the order from seventh to ten place to conclude Saturday’s BMO Nations’ Cup competition.
Cian O’Connor Takes Suncor Energy Cup
Saturday at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament hosted the Suncor Energy Winning Round, with a win for Ireland’s Cian O’Connor aboard Ian O’Grady, Philippe de Balander, and Ronnoco Jump Ltd.’s Callisto. Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Hofgut Albführen GmbH’s Albfuehren’s Happiness finished second, and Eric Lamaze (CAN) aboard the Chacco Kid Group’s Chacco Kid placed third.
Held in a winning round format over a 1.50m course set by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios, 30 entries started in round one. The top ten competitors were then invited to return for the winning round, in which they begin again with zero penalties. The combination that has the fewest faults in the fastest time in the winning round is the winner.
Only eight entries were able to clear the first round without fault, and both Cian O’Connor and Steve Guerdat advanced to the winning round with one time fault each in round one. O’Connor and Callisto were first to jump in round two and cleared the course in the winning time of 47.87 seconds. Guerdat immediately followed with a clear aboard Albfuehren’s Happiness in 48.20 seconds. Lamaze and Chacco Kid later jumped into third place with their clear round in 48.65 seconds.
Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) guided Ludo Philippaerts H&M Quenzo de la Roque to a clear second round in 49.51 seconds to place fourth. Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Stephex Stables’ Limestone Grey jumped clear with the fifth place time of 50.60 seconds.
Commenting on his victory, which is O’Connor’s first at Spruce Meadows, the rider stated, “It is always nice to get a win. It is a good competition because you get a chance to clean the slate if you make the top ten. I had a time fault, just over the time allowed in the first round, but he jumped well. Then I was first to go in the jump-off.
“I had walked the course quite well and I just tried to play to his strengths because he has such a big stride,” O’Connor continued. “He actually is not that nippy or quick, so I have to really leave out strides. In this arena, a horse that has a huge length of stride and stays careful has a big advantage, so it was great.”
O’Connor took over the ride on Callisto, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Quasimodo Z x Jokinal de Bornival), from France’s Aymeric de Ponnat at the start of 2016. He explained that the gelding has an issue with being very horse shy and does not like having other horses around him.
“The previous rider had difficulty warming him up if a horse came towards him, so I spent a lot of time working with him, and trying to get him relaxed,” O’Connor detailed. “We started using blinkers in his training and that has really helped him a lot. He does not wear them in the competition, but just during the warm-up, so he stays relaxed and focused.
“Horses are herd animals, so I do not know why he is like that. Maybe he just got a fright at some stage,” O’Connor mused. “Gradually I am going to take the blinkers back and I would say eventually he will be able to go without them. He has not been as afraid, so it is interesting how they have worked. As he has started to settle, I can train him and jump him bigger, and I think he is going to be a really exciting horse for the future. He takes well to this ring, so I was already thinking about coming back here for the Summer Series next year, and now I am definitely going to come back.”
Remarking on his first Spruce Meadows victory, O’Connor smiled. “It feels cool. There is nowhere better. The crowd is great. I love the show and the way they do everything. From the time you land at the airport and the people pick you up, everything is organized. The people are so nice, and so professional, and so helpful. All of the shows in Europe could come here and take a lesson to see how they look after people here. The way they do the sponsors and the prize givings, just everything is done A to Z top class.”
O’Connor looks forward to jumping his top mount Good Luck in Sunday’s $2 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, and noted that he feels “quietly confident” heading into the competition.
“Good Luck is the best horse I have ever had, so I am confident that we have a very good chance tomorrow,” O’Connor stated. “He has extraordinary scope. He can jump the biggest fences, he is so careful, he is quite fast against the clock, and he is just one of the better horses in the world I think. He jumped twice this week, double clear the first day and one down the second day. He has had two days off now, so he should be ready to go tomorrow.”
The ‘Masters’ Tournament concludes on Sunday, September 11, featuring the best horses and riders in the world competing in the $2 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex. For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Sameh el Dahan and WKD Diva. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Chris Surbey and Arezzo Top ATCO Six Bar
Calgary, AB – Friday night’s Mercedes-Benz Evening of the Horse at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* featured an exciting line-up of international show jumping competition capped off by live music and a dazzling display of fireworks.
It was a packed house to watch many of the world’s best horses and riders compete in the evening’s events, which included the Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.60m with a win for Egypt’s Sameh el Dahan and WKD Diva, as well as the always-exciting ATCO Six Bar competition with a victory for hometown favorite Chris Surbey (CAN) riding Arezzo.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament runs September 7-11, 2016, featuring the best horses and riders in the world competing at Spruce Meadows. Highlights include the BMO Nations’ Cup on Saturday, with teams from around the world competing for top honors; and Sunday’s CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, with a staggering $2 million in prize money up for grabs in this year’s competition.
Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios set a challenging track for the 30 starters in Friday’s Friends of the Meadows 1.60m competition. Only five entries were able to clear the first round course without fault to advance to the jump-off, where the short course yielded just two double clears.
Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya and G&C Quitador Rochelais, owned by Gustavo Mirabal and AM Horses SL, were the first pair to qualify for the jump-off and return over the short course. The pair tipped a block off the wall to incur four faults and finish fourth with their time of 48.93 seconds. Sameh el Dahan and Joanne Sloan Allen’s WKD Diva were next to go and cleared the course in the winning time of 47.90 seconds.
Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Stephex Stables’ Ensor de Litrange LXII followed, dropping one rail jumping out of the vertical-to-oxer double combination, and finishing their round in 48.45 seconds for a third place finish overall. For the third day in a row, The Netherlands’ Frank Schuttert landed in second place, this time riding Syed Omar Almohdzar’s Apart to a clear jump-off round in a steady 56.26 seconds. Last to go, Denmark’s Nikolaj Hein Ruus guided Gerardo Pasquel’s Big Red to fifth place honors with two fences down, the first and the last on course, in a time of 51.72 seconds.
El Dahan got WKD Diva, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Balourado x Hors La Loi II), three years ago when she was six years old. He has built a great partnership with the feisty chestnut and declared that, as her names implies, the mare can be a “wicked diva.”
Describing Diva’s energy, el Dahan stated, “She impresses me every time she goes into the ring. She gives everything for me in the arena. She uses her energy in a good way, so it makes it a bit easier.”
The course was a challenging one on Friday, with many riders faulting at the final fence on track, and el Dahan was proud of his young mare for clearing it.
“I was 20th to go and by that stage there was only one clear round,” el Dahan detailed. “It was very difficult for everybody. That last jump was very wide. You have a big, tall vertical before it, so the horses jump too careful. They need a little bit of scope to jump that oxer and I was lucky. The mare has plenty of scope and lots of ability, so I encouraged her a little bit on the back rail, and she jumped beautifully. I’m lucky to be sitting on such a good horse.”
After completing a clear round in the jump-off, the rider described his initial feeling as relief, noting, “You look for a win for a long time. That was a good jump-off, and I thought it was quick enough, but there is always somebody that can be faster. You always have to wait until the last one in the ring and that sigh of relief comes if you are still in the lead.”
Friday’s win was one of the biggest in el Dahan’s career, and he remarked on the feeling of achieving that victory at the esteemed ‘Masters’ Tournament, stating, “That was one of my biggest wins and it is always a privilege to be at Spruce Meadows. The ‘Masters’ is such a big event and people watch it around the world. Being in the winner’s circle is a privilege. I am very lucky to be here.”
Surbey Checks a ‘Masters’ Win off His Bucket List
Friday night at the ‘Masters’ featured the ATCO Six Bar competition in front of a fantastic crowd in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows. Twelve entries started in round one where the fences climbed to a final height of 1.60m. Eleven continued on to round two where the final height went up to 1.75m. Seven combinations advanced to the third round with the final fence set at 1.85m, where only two were able to clear the obstacles without fault. In the fourth and final round, the height went up to a towering 1.90m with only two left to go.
From twelve entries down to two, Canada’s Chris Surbey jumped clear at the 1.90m-height aboard Spruce Meadows’ own Arezzo to take a hometown victory. Robert Smith (GBR) and his own Ilton brought down two fences to settle for second place. Knocked out in round three, Richard Spooner (USA) and Chivas Z, Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and Arrayan, and Pedro Veniss (BRA) aboard Rissoa d’Ag Bois Margot all tied for third place.
Commenting on his victory, Surbey declared, “It is unbelievable. It is bucket list material to win a class at the ‘Masters’. It feels amazing.”
Surbey’s winning mount, Arezzo is an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Querlybet Hero x Walzertakt) that the rider took over from fellow Spruce Meadows rider Kelly Koss-Brix this summer.
“As far as I know he has not done anything like this before,” Surbey detailed. “Kelly rode the horse for most of the season and I just took him over in June. We have just been progressively building our partnership. He had some good competitions here at the Summer Series. Then he came with me on a European tour and stepped up to jump some grand prix competitions. He is starting to gain a lot more experience, which I think helped him tonight under the lights.”
The atmosphere was electric in the International Ring Friday night as a packed house of fans cheered the riders on.
“It was amazing. We had a super crowd,” Surbey noted. “They get a lot of people in the same area right along the fence line to watch, so it is very special. I definitely felt them cheering me on.”
Though Surbey acknowledged that he has never jumped a fence of that size before, he felt like Arezzo could have jumped even bigger, and had confidence in his mount.
“He is super brave. He just got better as we went,” Surbey stated. “I tried to keep everything fairly consistent and I think he jumped it pretty easy. I think he found that the distance was getting quite short, so he drifted a little bit to the side to try to make himself more room, but I thought he jumped really well. He has lots of power and scope, so the height was not a problem.”
The ‘Masters’ Tournament continues on Saturday featuring the Suncor Winning Round 1.50m, followed by the BMO Nations’ Cup, with teams from 10 different countries competing. For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Calgary, Canada – Fresh off his bronze medal win at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Eric Lamaze (CAN) has arrived in Calgary, Canada to contest the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament running September 7-11, 2016. He is joined by fellow Rolex Testimonees Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Scott Brash (GBR), who made history at last year’s ‘Masters’ tournament by becoming the first rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Lamaze, who credits his success at the 2016 Olympic Games to his preparation at the Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’, will face another star-studded field when he contests the $2 million CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, on Sunday, September 11.
“It is a big weekend here; we are going to jump the same fences we jumped at the Olympics, and it’s the same level of competition,” said Lamaze, who added an Individual bronze to the Individual gold and Team silver won at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. “You don’t come into Spruce Meadows taking things lightly.”
Spectators at last year’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ witnessed history in the making as Brash, riding Hello Sanctos, became the first athlete to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The pair won at CHI Geneva (SUI) followed by a second victory at CHIO Aachen (GER) before handling the pressure to take the win at Spruce Meadows and claim the unprecedented €1 million bonus offered to any rider able to win all three Grand Prix events in succession.
“What we saw last year with the Rolex Grand Slam was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in this venue,” said Lamaze, who was a two-time winner of the International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex (the predecessor to the now CP ‘International’) 2007 and 2011 with the legendary Hickstead. “I have been part of many exciting things that have happened at Spruce Meadows over the years, but this was one of the very best moments that I have witnessed. I know what it’s like to win this Grand Prix, and it’s not easy. We saw something that was truly incredible.”
At this year’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament, Philipp Weishaupt (GER) is the live contender, having won the last leg of the Rolex Grand Slam at CHIO Aachen. Lamaze considers the German and his partner, LB Convall, one of the riders to beat come Sunday.
“I think his horse jumped very well here in the summer, and it went on to Aachen to win the Rolex Grand Prix where it jumped incredible,” said Lamaze. “I believe he is one of the favourites to win this, and I think he has his eye on the prize. We’re going to see great sport.”
While Lamaze’s Olympic partner, Fine Lady 5, is enjoying a well-deserved rest following Rio, he has three horses in the stable for this weekend’s main event. Check Picobello Z is the most experienced while Chacco Kid and Houston are also proving themselves at the top level.
“I think we’re going to get a nice welcome home,” said Lamaze, who is competing on Canadian soil for the first time following the Olympic Games. “The public appreciated what we did there – we brought home a medal from the Olympics – so I think we will be very well-received!
“Spruce Meadows is unique,” concluded Lamaze, who is the all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows, where Rolex has been the official timekeeper since 1989. “The arena is magical on the weekend when there are 60,000 people here; as a rider it is such a special moment to hear the crowd cheer. There is nothing else like it.”
Whatever the outcome, top sport is guaranteed at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.
Roger-Yves Bost and Quod’Coeur de la Loge. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB – Day two of the 2016 ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* got underway on Thursday with two feature competitions in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows. The ATCO Founders Classic 1.50m was the first competition of the day with a win for Pedro Veniss (BRA) and For Felicila. The CANA Cup 1.60m wrapped up the afternoon with victory for Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) and Quod’Coeur de la Loge.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament runs September 7-11, 2016, featuring the best horses and riders in the world competing at Spruce Meadows. Highlights include Friday’s Mercedes-Benz Evening of the Horse, which hosts the exciting ATCO Six Bar competition; the BMO Nations’ Cup on Saturday, with teams from around the world competing for top honors; and Sunday’s CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, with a staggering $2 million in prize money up for grabs in this year’s competition.
The course designer in the International Ring for ‘Masters’ competition this week is Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios. In Thursday’s feature CANA Cup 1.60m, Palacios saw 58 entries over his first round course, with eight moving on to the jump-off. Rio Olympic Team Gold Medalist Roger-Yves Bost jumped to victory with a naturally fast jump-off round in 41.24 seconds riding Quod’Coeur de la Loge.
For the second day in a row, The Netherlands’ Frank Schuttert took second place honors with Handelshuis Schuttert’s Winchester HS. The pair finished close behind in 41.54 seconds. Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya guided AM Horses SL’s Arrayan to third place honors with his time of 42.02 seconds.
Speaking of Quod’Coeur de la Loge, a 12-year-old Selle Francais stallion (Ideal de la Loge x Tenor de la Cour), Bost stated, “I think this is the third time this horse has come to Calgary. He knows the place and he likes the grass arena. I rode his father here – Ideal de la Loge – I went to Nations’ Cup with the father and I hope he does the same. He jumped very well today for the two rounds and I am very happy.”
Commenting on his jump-off, Bost detailed, “I needed to start good because the double was not so easy and after that I could just gallop. He has a big stride. I started with him when he was five years old. When I go to the jump-off I know right away that he is going to be good.
“He jumped really well in the first round,” Bost added. “It was not so easy; the time allowed was really short today. You needed to gallop a little bit, but it was good. When you win it is always good.”
Bost plans to jump Quod’Coeur de la Loge again in Saturday’s BMO Nations’ Cup, as well as in Sunday’s $2 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex.
Schuttert, after two top placings in a row with his mount Winchester HS, plans to give his horse two days off now before jumping Sunday’s Grand Prix. Speaking of Thursday’s round and how it compared to his finish on Wednesday, Schuttert noted, “My plan was a little bit the same as yesterday. I wanted to be fast for sure to end up in the front of the class. He is a naturally fast horse and he turns quick, so I rode the same jump-off as I did yesterday, and I am very happy that I was second again.”
Commenting on Winchester, Schuttert added, “He has a little bit his own style. He has a lot of character. As soon as he comes into the ring he always fights for me and wants to do a good job. He has all the scope you could want and I think the most important thing is that he always wants to go for the clear round.”
Third place finisher Sergio Alvarez Moya has only had his mount Arrayan for six months and was very happy with his finish on Thursday.
“He has improved a lot in the last few months,” Moya stated. “He was a bit difficult to ride and not too easy to control in the first few shows. Definitely this ring suits him very well – he likes big fields and big jumps. Once I get into the jump-off, he is naturally fast. I probably lost the jump-off from one to two – I could have done one less stride – but the left side he does not turn as well as the right. Everything was tight, but Bost and Frank are very fast riders and they have naturally fast horses, so I am happy. It was a positive result.”
While Bost’s strategy for the weekend is to jump the Nations’ Cup with his horse prior to Sunday’s Grand Prix, and Schuttert will rest his mount until Sunday, Moya has different plans. He will jump Arrayan in Friday night’s ATCO Six Bar competition with hopes that it will be good training for Sunday’s major event.
“On Sunday that is going to be the biggest class I have ever jumped with him, and I am thinking the six bar could be a good exercise for him before the grand prix,” Moya explained. “It makes the horses think, and it is good when they understand that they have to stay quiet between jumps, and use their bodies. Normally he always thinks forward and it is hard for him to sit, so I think the six-bar could be good for him and we could maybe get a good result. Then I will give him a day off on Saturday and try our best on Sunday. I am very happy with how he jumped today. He always tries his best. I think the better the control gets for sure he is going to get faster and he will be able to jump everything.”
Moya is competing at Spruce Meadows for the first time and shared his impression of the competition, stating, “I don’t think any rider that comes to Spruce Meadows doesn’t say that it is unbelievable. The facilities are well organized and everything is just amazing. It is for sure one of the best shows in the world.”
Pedro Veniss Wins ATCO Founders Classic
The ATCO Founders Classic 1.50m was the first competition held in the International Ring on Thursday with a win for Brazil’s Pedro Veniss aboard Hermann Theiss’s For Felicila. Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) set the track for 52 first-round starters, with 11 advancing to the jump-off, and six double clear rounds. Veniss and the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (For Pleasure x Espri) clocked the winning time of 42.53 seconds.
USA’s Andrew Ramsay took second and fourth place honors, finishing in the runner up position with The Doodle Group’s Cocq a Doodle in a time of 43.05 seconds, and placing fourth aboard The Stranger Group’s Stranger 30 in 43.70 seconds. Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt jumped into third place with his time of 43.57 seconds riding Catokia 2. Olivier Robert took the fifth place prize for France riding Quenelle du Py through the timers in 43.80 seconds. Nigel Coupe jumped the final double clear round in 44.22 seconds to place sixth aboard John O’Halloran’s Jubilee III for Great Britain.
Veniss began riding For Felicila in January this year and described his winning mount as a lovely horse, adding, “She is really fast in the jump-off and she was very good today.”
He continued, “The first round was good. The time was a bit tight, but she jumped great. Then in the jump-off, I tried to go as fast as I could, and she was amazing. She has a really big canter, so I think I did fewer strides than the others to the last jump for sure, and maybe from one to two also.”
Veniss traveled to Spruce Meadows for the first time in 2015 when he was a part of the winning team for Brazil in the BMO Nations’ Cup and also placed third in the $1.5 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, aboard his top mount Quabri de l’Isle. The pair also recently jumped for Brazil at the Olympic Games on home soil in Rio.
“The grand prix is the goal. The prize money is really high, so we have the best riders in the world, but I think I have a really good horse that loves that ring,” Veniss noted. “He jumped beautiful here last year and was very good in the Olympic Games, and he jumped very good today, so he feels ready.”
While Quabri de l’Isle takes on the major tracks in Saturday’s BMO Nations’ Cup and Sunday’s $2 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, this weekend, Veniss will jump For Felicila again in Saturday’s Suncor Winning Round competition.
His win with the mare on Thursday not only secured his qualification for the grand prix, but was also his first individual win ever at Spruce Meadows.
“This is my first win here, so I am very happy,” Veniss acknowledged. “This is a top show. I came here for the first time last year and we won the Nations’ Cup and I was third in the Grand Prix, and every week I have been thinking about coming back to Spruce Meadows.”
The ‘Masters’ Tournament continues on Friday with competition in the International Ring featured during the Mercedes-Benz Evening of the Horse beginning at 5 p.m. Competition highlights the Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.60m followed by the exciting ATCO Six Bar competition. The night will be capped off by a performance by the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and a Symphony of Fireworks.
Lorenzo de Luca and Limestone Grey. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB – The 2016 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* began on Wednesday with first-time wins in the famous International Ring for both Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Steve Guerdat (SUI). De Luca kept his recent winning streak alive with a victory in the Akita Drilling Cup 1.60m aboard Limestone Grey. Guerdat took the first win of the day riding Albfuehren’s Happiness in the Telus Cup 1.50m.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament runs September 7-11, 2016, featuring the best horses and riders in the world competing at Spruce Meadows. Highlights include Friday’s Mercedes-Benz Evening of the Horse, which hosts the exciting ATCO Six Bar competition; the BMO Nations’ Cup on Saturday, with teams from around the world competing for top honors; and Sunday’s CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, with a staggering $2 million in prize money up for grabs in this year’s competition.
The course designer in the International Ring for this year’s ‘Masters’ competition is Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios. Palacios set the track for 51 starters in the afternoon’s Akita Drilling Cup 1.60m, with 18 advancing to the jump-off, and 10 double clear rounds. De Luca and Stephex Stables’ Limestone Grey clocked the winning time of 34.30 seconds. Frank Schuttert (NED) and Handelshuis Schuttert’s Winchester HS finished second in 35.34 seconds, and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and Ludo Philippaerts’ H&M Challenge vd Begijnakker placed third with their opening jump-off time of 35.55 seconds.
De Luca’s recent string of victories includes a big win in St. Moritz, Switzerland with Limestone Grey, as well as a major win in the grand prix in Dublin, Ireland with Ensor de Litrange LXII. Commenting on the continuation of his recent success with a win at Spruce Meadows, de Luca remarked, “It is fantastic. I did not think I would win straight away the first day. The horses have been in great form. The last few months they have been jumping very well. My horse was very good the first round today. I was a little bit afraid because everybody said the ring is spooky for some horses, but I took this horse with me in Dublin and Hickstead, and he was very good over there. Today he jumped very well, so I am very happy.”
Limestone Grey is a ten-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (by Try-Time) that de Luca began riding in October of 2015. After jumping in Florida this winter, the pair returned to Europe, where Limestone Grey jumped as de Luca’s second horse in 5* competitions.
Commenting on his mount, de Luca stated, “He is improving a lot. He is sensitive, and really intelligent, and really fast.”
The rider continued, “I knew there were so many good riders in the jump-off, so I just watched the first to go, and I knew that I had to go a little bit everywhere. He is really good on the short turns, so the turn from one to two was very good for him, and then I just kept going and he was great.”
Remarking on his first time competing at Spruce Meadows, de Luca smiled, “It is like a dream. It was always a dream for me to come here. This week we also have the Global Champions Tour in Rome and everybody was pushing me to go there. But when you have two good horses like that at the moment, I thought it was a good time to come here, and I am really pleased to be here.”
Guerdat Opens ‘Masters’ Tournament with a Win
Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and Albfuehren’s Happiness were the first winners of the week in Calgary, opening Wednesday’s competition with a victory in the Telus Cup 1.50m jump-off. For Guerdat’s first-ever victory in Spruce Meadows’ famed International Ring, the rider topped an eight-horse jump-off out of 74 first round starters. With six double clear over the short course, USA’s Hardin Towell and Jennifer Gates’ SF Ariantha set the pace in 36.86 seconds to eventually finish third. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Chacco Kid followed with a very fast time of 36.75 seconds, but settled for second place. Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Callisto jumped into fourth place with a time of 37.28 seconds. Patricio Pasquel (MEX) followed with the sixth place time of 38.24 seconds aboard Candela. Nigel Coupe (GBR) then secured fifth place honors with his time of 38.16 seconds riding Jubilee III. Last to go, Steve Guerdat and Albfuehren’s Happiness stole the lead with a time of 35.71 seconds.
Happiness, a 10-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Heartbeat x Lambrusco ASK) owned by Hofgut Albführen GmbH, began with Guerdat as an eight-year-old in 2014 and has become very competitive this year.
“I have built her up slowly,” Guerdat explained. “She did not have so much experience when she came to me as an eight-year-old. Then as a nine-year-old I tried to step her up because she had to learn the job and this year she has been good. She has won some 2* and 3* grand prixs and placed in some 1.50m competitions. That is a good height for her – bigger is more difficult for her – but at 1.50m she is very competitive and very fast. She can go fast every day.”
Speaking of Wednesday’s competition, Guerdat noted, “It was a nice course. We had so many starters, so just eight coming back was quite good. Then I was last to go (in the jump-off), which is always the best spot. I knew, more or less, what I had to do and she is always a very naturally fast horse. There were not many places where you could leave strides out, so it was actually a perfect jump-off for her, and I did not have to really rush anything. She is so fast off the ground that it was just enough to beat Eric.”
As the 2012 Olympic champion and back-to-back FEI World Cup Finals winner (2015 and 2016), among many other accolades, Wednesday’s victory was Guerdat’s first at Spruce Meadows.
“Most of the time I had two horses here – one for the Nations’ Cup and one for the Grand Prix – so I was always saving them through the week to be successful in those two main classes,” Guerdat explained. “Those first two or three days were always quite long because I never really had a horse to play the game. This year was different. I just had one first horse to bring that is going to do the Nations’ Cup and the Grand Prix, so I brought another one that was competitive for the other classes.
“This is one of my favorite venues,” Guerdat added. “I love to show here because of this ring, because of its fences, and because of its courses. It is quite tough here because we are not used to jumping fences like this and it always takes a few days to get in the rhythm. This is one date that I do not want to miss for anything. Every year, Calgary is one of the big yellow marks on my calendar of the most important places to go. I want to be good here every year and I am trying to achieve my goal.”
The ‘Masters’ Tournament continues on Thursday with the ATCO Founders Classic 1.50m followed by the CANA Cup 1.60m. For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Media were treated to a ride-on tour of the new International Ring Terrace. Photo by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB – The 2016 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* hosted its opening festivities on Tuesday, September 6, as the world’s top show jumping competitors prepare to compete in Calgary this week. The ‘Masters’ Tournament runs September 7-11, 2016, featuring the best horses and riders in the world competing in Spruce Meadows’ famed International Ring.
To kick off the tournament, national and international media were invited to a special luncheon on Tuesday afternoon, joined by top competitors, as well as Spruce Meadows staff and corporate supporters. The annual Media Day celebrated Spruce Meadows in its 41st year of competition and launched this week’s world-class event.
Highlights from the ‘Masters’ Tournament include Friday’s Mercedes-Benz Evening of the Horse, which hosts the exciting ATCO Six Bar competition; Saturday features the BMO Nations’ Cup, with teams from around the world competing for top honors; and Sunday highlights the CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, with a staggering $2 million in prize money up for grabs in this year’s event.
Welcoming athletes to the 2016 tournament, Spruce Meadows President Linda Southern Heathcott stated, “I want to thank our athletes for the singular honor of coming to the ‘Masters’. You have many choices of where to compete in the world, and we are very humbled that you have chosen to come to Calgary. So many of our athletes are near and dear to us, and it is our honor to welcome you.”
Heathcott also thanked the wonderful corporate partners that support Spruce Meadows each year, noting, “We are so proud that we have so many relationships with our corporates that date back 40 years, and that is thanks to the relationships that my mother and father built. They are relationships built on trust and respect, and it is our honor that they continue with us. They have provided a great venue for our athletes, and they have also provided a great venue for our fans.”
Southern Heathcott continued, “Together with our corporates, we have ensured that the access to Spruce Meadows is for everyone. There are not many places in the world that you can go for $5 and bring your family. You don’t have to be a fan of show jumping. You can enjoy the Prairie Dogs, or the Pet Fair, or great shopping, and also just enjoy our park-like setting. We thank our corporates for helping us to open Spruce Meadows to the public, whether it is people from Calgary, or Canada, or international fans. They get to experience the pageantry and tradition of our honor guards, as well as the great sport of our athletes, and a wonderful venue. We thank all of the people that have participated in making Spruce Meadows a very special and unique place.”
In this year’s highlight competition, the 2016 edition of the BMO Nations’ Cup has all the ingredients to be an all-time best. The starting field features the entire medal podium from team show jumping at the recent Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as France, USA, and Germany will all compete. The reigning World and European Champions (NED), the defending BMO Nations’ Cup Champions (BRA), the Pan American Gold Medal Team (CAN), 10-time BMO Nations’ Cup winners (GBR), as well as the always competitive Swiss, Belgium, and Mexican teams will all contest top honors.
The biggest Grand Prix in the sport with an increase to $2 million in prize money this year, the CP ‘International’ is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and offers the sport’s biggest, most technical, and demanding test. A year ago it was Scott Brash (GBR) who jumped to victory and secured the coveted Rolex Grand Slam for the first time in history. Brash now returns in 2016 to defend his title in the Grand Prix. Both Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Philipp Weishaupt (GER) will also be competing for added bonus rewards as a result of their respective victories this year in Geneva and Aachen.
Outside of the tournament ring, the ‘Masters’ is sure to delight the more than 200,000 fans that are expected over the five days of events. There is plenty to see and do for fans of all ages. The Equi-Fair, Pet Fair, and shopping in the Plaza and the Gallery on the Green offer a world of entertainment, food, and fun. Not to be missed are the sights and sounds in Founders Plaza and the splendor of the all new International Ring Terrace, which is open to the public for a fantastic vantage point of the week’s competition.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament begins on Wednesday, September 7, with the Telus Cup 1.50m followed by the Akita Drilling Cup 1.60m. For a complete tournament schedule, visit the Spruce Meadows website at www.sprucemeadows.com.