Philipp Weishaupt (Photo: Spruce Meadows Media / Mike Sturk)
29 horse and rider combinations navigated the Leopoldo Palacios-designed course in Spruce Meadows’ iconic International Ring, each hoping to take home the spoils in the SUNCOR Winning Round at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.
Local favourites Eric Lamaze and his 22-year-old prodigy, Kara Chad, wowed the excited spectators in the arena’s packed stands, both going clear and posting impressive times of 71.10 s with Chacco Kid and 71.45 s with Viva, respectively, well within Palacios’s 74-second limit. Also progressing to the second round was Calgarian Jim Ifko and his 10-year-old bay stallion, Un Diamant des Forets, who went clear in a time of 71.80 s. Seven further riders from six nations successfully negotiated the Venezuelan course designer’s tough challenge to set up a 10-pairing showdown in the Winning Round, with notable top-class riders including The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten and Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt.
First to go was Ireland’s Connor Swail, setting the early pace after going clear in a time of 54.38 s. Five-time Major winner Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid demonstrated the strength of their bond by going double clear, while Lamaze’s mentee, Kara Chad, piloted Viva superbly before clipping the final rail. France’s Edward Levy, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle, and Australia’s Rowan Willis all put rails down to finish below Chad in the final standings. Jim Ifko notched up a double clear, fractionally beating Lamaze’s time. Philipp Weishaupt and Solitaer 41 entered the Ring looking sharp and impressively knocked Swail off top spot in a time of 53.25 s. Last to go was Maikel van der Vleuten, but his best wasn’t good enough to deny Weishaupt a well-deserved victory.
Weishaupt – who has had a memorable week after securing victory aboard Sansibar 89 in Thursday’s CANA Cup – etched his and his 10-year-old grey gelding Solitaer 41’s names on to the SUNCOR Winning Round trophy after a jumping display of the highest order.
Having won the CP ‘International’ in 2017 aboard LB Convall, the duo heads into Sunday’s $3 million blue ribbon class full of confidence and are sure to push the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender and Weishaupt’s fellow countryman Marcus Ehning all the way.
Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid, Photo by Starting Gate Communications.
Calgary, Alberta – Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze opened the five-day Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ show jumping tournament in Calgary, AB with a win in the $70,200 1.60m Akita Drilling Cup on Wednesday, September 5.
Lamaze closed out the four-week Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’ with a win, claiming the $500,000 CSI5* ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday, July 7 with his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5. His winning mount on opening day of the ‘Masters’ was Chacco Kid, his mount for the upcoming Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC.
“In two weeks, we are off to the world championships and I’m using Spruce Meadows as his training ground,” said Lamaze, currently ranked number three in the world. “I think I’m doing the right thing!”
Lamaze and Chacco Kid, a 12-year-old chestnut Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On), faced off against 37 entries in the $70,200 1.60m Akita Drilling Cup with six advancing to the jump-off over the course designed by Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela. With a time of 35.32 seconds over the short course, Lamaze took the win over Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat who stopped the clock in 35.53 seconds riding Alamo while Egypt’s Sameh El Dahan delivered another clear round in a time of 35.67 to take third.
“It’s always good to win on the first day because you don’t know what is going to happen the rest of the week!” laughed Lamaze.
Lamaze will saddle up Coco Bongo, owned by Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable, for the $460,000 BMO Nations’ Cup at the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament on Saturday, September 8. He will join Lisa Carlsen of Okotoks, AB, Kara Chad of Calgary, AB, and Ian Millar of Perth, ON in representing Canada in the prestigious team event.
Based in Wellington, FL and Brussels, Belgium, Lamaze is the all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows with career earnings in excess of $5.8 million at the Canadian venue.
Steve Guerdat riding Alamo at CHIO Aachen 2018 (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)
On 9 September 2018 the international equestrian community will focus its attention on the world’s top show jumpers, as they compete at the third Major of the year, the CP ‘International,’ presented by Rolex, at the CSIO 5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’. More than 87,000 spectators are expected to descend on the show and organisers are promising five days of spectacular competition.
Leopoldo Palacios, the experienced Venezuelan course designer, will set the course for the CP ‘International’ and is expected to lay down a demanding but fair challenge. Show jumping’s finest horse and rider combinations will take centre stage, all hoping to add one of the year’s most prestigious competitions to their record of top-level achievements.
Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Rider Watch
With the sport’s most revered horse and rider pairings due to compete in the CP ‘International,’ there are several strong contenders on target to take this Rolex Major title win.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, Marcus Ehning (GER) – who started his Rolex Grand Slam journey at the CHIO Aachen in July riding Pret a Tout to victory in the Rolex Grand Prix – comes to Spruce Meadows in scintillating form. He won the Rolex Grand Prix at the Stephex Masters on another one of his talented horses, Comme Il Faut 5. The former world number one ranked rider will be vying for victory in the CP ‘International’ in the hope that his Rolex Grand Slam journey continues, setting him up for a shot at the Rolex Grand Slam title at the CHI Geneva in December.
Having impressively competed in all 17 Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors since the initiative’s inception in 2013, Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat (SUI) undoubtedly has the skill and firepower to ride his way to the top of the leaderboard in the CP ‘International’. The Swiss maestro jumped clear in the first two rounds of the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen 2018, finishing in a respectable fifth place.
Shortly after winning the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva in 2017, Kent Farrington (USA) had a fall at the Winter Equestrian Festival that resulted in a broken leg. Back in action three months later and on top form, Farrington is fresh from his victory in the Winning Round class at the Spruce Meadows CSI 5* in July and is looking to add a Rolex Major to his tally of wins in 2018. The internationally renowned athlete is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the world making him a formidable contender for the CP ‘International’ title.
Rolex Testimonee and local hero, Eric Lamaze (CAN), has notched up multiple wins this year. In July he won the ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup at CSI 5* Spruce Meadows riding Fine Lady 5, who jumped an immaculate two rounds, recording the only double clear. Lamaze will be aiming to replicate this in the iconic International Ring where the CP ‘International’ is held. With home advantage on his side and an impeccable knowledge of the arena, Lamaze is a firm favourite.
A consistently solid competitor at Spruce Meadows over the past few years is Lorenzo de Luca (ITA). De Luca and his chestnut gelding, Halifax van het Kluizebos are looking an impressive partnership after picking up multiple victories this year, including the Rolex Grand Prix of Rome at the CSIO 5* Rome Piazza di Siena in May.
After jumping well in the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen in July 2018 – a title that he brilliantly won in 2017 – Gregory Wathelet (BEL) will be aiming to secure his second Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of his career in the CP ‘International’. With a large selection of top horses to choose from and a wealth of experience of what it takes to win events at the very pinnacle of the sport, Wathelet will be in a strong position to take this Major.
Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5. Photo by Starting Gate Communications.
Calgary, Alberta – Three-time Olympic medalist Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 won the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday, July 7, at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ tournament, presented by Rolex, in Calgary, AB.
The victory marked the third one of the week for Lamaze and the second for Fine Lady 5, a 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. Having won Thursday evening’s demanding $131,600 1.55m Progress Energy Cup, the pair was poised for another win. They did not disappoint their legion of fans and were the only horse-rider combination to successfully jump the two-round track set by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela without fault.
“I really respect this fantastic mare,” said Lamaze of his 2016 Olympic individual bronze medal partner. “She gives me everything she has and really understands the competition. We had a few rattles in the first round, and it made her that much better for the second round.”
Eight riders jumped clear in the first round, but Lamaze was the first to repeat his faultless performance in the second round. There was only one competitor still to come who could potentially match his clear scorecard to force a jump-off, the formidable Kent Farrington of the United States aboard Creedance. When a rail fell, the cheer went up from the crowd for a Canadian victory.
“It really begins in the second round,” Lamaze said of the format that sees the top 12 riders following the opening round of competition move forward, carrying their faults with them. “I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t happy with who was coming behind me! Fortunately, I was sitting on my best horse with the most experience. I know this arena very well; I’ve jumped in it many times, and that gives you an advantage when it comes to the second round.”
Currently ranked number four in the World Rider Rankings, Lamaze’s win in the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup capped a tremendous four weeks of competition comprising the Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’. The 2008 Olympic champion claimed no fewer than six victories with four different horses, namely Fine Lady 5, Chacco Kid, Chesney, and Saura de Fondombe.
“It’s a long, grueling four weeks of competition but every win at Spruce Meadows in the International Ring is special to me,” said Lamaze, 50, who is the all-time leading money winner at the renowned Calgary show jumping venue with earnings in excess of $5.6 million. “Spruce Meadows makes great riders and horses. I will never change my mind on that.”
Lamaze, who divides his time between training bases in Wellington, FL and Brussels, Belgium, said, “Every sport in the world is about confidence. Any win at a five-star competition with these types of jumps does tremendous things for your confidence. My next show with Fine Lady is Aachen (Germany), and I’ll be able to walk in there carrying this confidence.”
The 2018 edition of CSIO5* Aachen runs from July 17 to 22. Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 are the defending champions of the €100,000 Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe, having won the past two years in a row.
Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5. Photo by Spruce Meadows Media.
Calgary, Alberta – Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze stood in the winner’s circle for the third day in a row after claiming the $385,000 CSI5* ‘Continental’ Grand Prix riding Fine Lady 5 on Sunday, June 17, at the Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ tournament in Calgary, AB.
Having won Friday night’s $131,600 Scotiabank Cup in spectacular fashion aboard Chacco Kid, Lamaze again won on Saturday, taking the $70,200 Canadian Utilities Cup with new mount, Saura de Fondcombe, owned by Katharina Peter. His third win on Sunday came aboard Fine Lady 5, his individual bronze medal partner at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Riding Fine Lady 5, the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) his Torrey Pines Stable owns in partnership with Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms, Lamaze was one of seven riders to jump clear and qualify for the jump-off over a testing track set by course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. In the same scenario as Friday night’s Scotiabank Cup, Lamaze was chasing the jump-off time posted by young American Lucy Deslauriers and Hester when he entered the ring. And in a repeat of Friday night, Lamaze was again faster, stopping the clock in 43.22 seconds compared to the 43.66 posted by Deslauriers.
Lamaze is using the Spruce Meadows Summer Series consisting of four weeks of CSI5* competition, the highest level of show jumping competition sanctioned by the Federation Equestre International (FEI), to prepare for September’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC. When Fine Lady 5 was originally purchased in the spring of 2014 from Germany’s Holger Wulschner, she was not intended to be used for 1.60m grand prix competition.
“Fine Lady was purchased as a speed horse, as a 1.45m/1.50m ranking horse,” explained Lamaze, who is based in Wellington, FL and Brussels, Belgium. “Prior to the Rio Olympics, we stepped her up and put her in some big competitions here at Spruce Meadows in the Summer Series and she just blossomed. Then we moved her up at Aachen and she won. At the Olympics I couldn’t believe it; the final round was big and although I wouldn’t say she jumped it easily – none of the horses jumped it easily – she jumped it. It was a very pleasant surprise.
“Any horse that did well in recent major championships, the ones that ended up on the podium at an Olympics or World Championships, most of them came here in the summer time and trained for the four weeks,” continued Lamaze. “In a year when there is a world championship, there is no better place to prepare than the Spruce Meadows Summer Series. It makes you a better rider. This Summer Series serves us on many levels. It’s good for developing younger horses and younger riders and it also prepares more experienced combinations for major championships.”
As Fine Lady 5 is his intended mount for the World Equestrian Games, Lamaze is choosing her classes carefully. He will now rest the mare for two weeks before bringing her out to contest the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ tournament from July 4 to 8.
“I love coming to Spruce Meadows; we have real competition here,” said Lamaze, who is the all-time leading money winner at the Calgary venue. “It’s the only venue in Canada that I come to. This facility has been very good to me. And I love competing in front of our fans. It feels like home.”
Lamaze will now have a week off from competition before returning to Calgary for the back-to-back Spruce Meadows ‘Pan American’ and ‘North American’ tournaments.
Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid. Photo by Spruce Meadows Media.
Calgary, Alberta – Canada’s Eric Lamaze scored back-to-back victories at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ tournament on June 15 and 16. Hot off his win in Friday night’s $131,600 Scotiabank Cup, Lamaze returned to the Meadows on the Green arena on Saturday to claim victory in the $70,200 Canadian Utilities Cup.
On Friday night, Lamaze qualified both Chacco Kid, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On) owned by the Chacco Kid Group, and his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, for the jump-off, joining six other horse-rider combinations. Once Chacco Kid posted a time of 37.13 seconds over the course designed by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge to move into the lead by over two seconds, Lamaze elected to withdraw Fine Lady 5 in the hopes his leading time would stand up for the win. Stand up it did, with Lamaze and Chacco Kid claiming the Scotiabank Cup over 19-year-old American Lucy Deslauriers who stopped the timers in 39.16 seconds riding Hester.
“Most grand prix events don’t even offer $100,000 in prize money so when you’re going for $131,000 on a Friday night, you are jumping for real money,” said Lamaze. “It was an incredible class. The track that Guilherme set was built for speed. If you wanted to win, you had to be committed.
“After the jump-off round I had with Chacco, I didn’t think I could possibly go any faster with Fine Lady!” said Lamaze of his decision to withdraw Fine Lady 5, automatically placing the pair eighth.
The leading all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows, Lamaze increased his lead even further on Saturday by winning the Canadian Utilities Cup. A total of 12 riders jumped clear in the first round to advance to the tie-breaker including Lamaze aboard a new mount, Saura de Fondcombe, owned by Katharina Peter. As the tenth rider to return for the jump-off, Lamaze was chasing a time of 36.07 set by Daniel Coyle of Ireland riding Quintin. Despite the new partnership, Lamaze guided the 12-year-old selle francais mare (Balou du Rouet x Paladin des Ifs) home in a time 35.38 seconds to claim his second victory in as many days at the iconic Canadian show jumping venue.
“Last night, the jump-off was insane! Today was a little more subdued,” laughed Lamaze, 50, who also finished runner-up in Thursday night’s $40,000 1.50m Husky Energy Classic with Saura de Fondcombe. “It was a solid 1.50m course with 12 clear, and I had a good position going towards the end. She is a very careful, genuine mare. She’s had a lot of experience at this level and you can take a lot of risk. She’s a really good horse.
“As I always say, if you win a class at Spruce Meadows, you can win anywhere in the world,” said Lamaze. “Horses learn a lot and riders learn a lot by competing here. It’s real sport. If you want to participate in any major championships, you have to prove you can survive Spruce Meadows!”
Lamaze will saddle up Fine Lady 5, the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) he owns in partnership with Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms, for Sunday’s $385,000 CSI5* ‘Continental’ Grand Prix beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Following the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, concluding on July 8, Lamaze will return to his home base in Brussels, Belgium. From there, he will compete at the CSI5* Global Champions Tour in Chantilly, France, from July 12 to 15 followed by CHIO Aachen, Germany, from July 17 to 22.
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.