Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the athletes representing the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team at upcoming Nations Cup competitions. Robert Ridland will serve as the Chef d’Equipe for both teams.
The following athletes (in alphabetical order) will represent the U.S. in the BMO Nations Cup during the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ CSIO5* Tournament in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 9-13:
Georgina Bloomberg (New York City, N.Y.)
Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.)
Todd Minikus (Loxahatchee, Fla.)
McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.)
1 September 2015, Spruce Meadows, Canada – The 2015 edition of Spruce Meadows marks the 40th edition of this exceptional event. The peak of this anniversary tournament will be the CP International, presented by Rolex, where one rider has the chance to take home the ultimate Show Jumping prize: The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
British competitor Scott Brash could make history and become the first to succeed in this unique challenge. Brash has already made history by becoming the first rider to win two consecutive legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
His quest started at the greatest indoor show in the world, CHI Geneva, last December, when he triumphed in the Rolex Grand Prix. A few months later, he soared to stunning victory at the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in Germany – possibly the most prized in the world. Winning it – in the electric atmosphere of the huge grass arena – is akin to winning a gold medal at a championship.
He instantly declared his intention to compete for the final stage of the Rolex Grand Slam at Spruce Meadows, saying: “To win one leg is already hard enough; to win two is extremely difficult; to win three is going to be really hard. But the Rolex Grand Slam is the ultimate challenge, so I will definitely try and win it.”
Scott Brash’s partner in both Geneva and Aachen was Hello Sanctos, the 13-year-old Belgian-bred gelding owned by Lord and Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, with which he has won many major grand prix around the world. Brash is taking no chances with Hello Sanctos and is resting him in order to target this exceptional opportunity at sporting glory in Spruce Meadows.
THE ROLEX GRAND SLAM OF SHOW JUMPING
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping represents the pinnacle of equestrian sporting achievement. Launched in 2013, it is the only global initiative to reward the outstanding rider who wins the three Majors consecutively – CHIO Aachen in Germany, Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Canada and CHI Geneva in Switzerland. Only a great horseman or horsewoman could win this most prestigious challenge of show jumping.
A VENUE LIKE NO OTHER
Spruce Meadows is one of the world’s greatest equestrian venues, founded by the Southern family, who understood just what it takes to reach the pinnacle of such a demanding and thrilling sport. At the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Canada, Spruce Meadows has a spectacular setting, as well as the perfect facilities for athletes to perform to the best of their abilities.
Spruce Meadows is the most popular venue for equine sport in North America. The highlight of its season is the ‘Masters’ Tournament, which runs from 9-13 September 2015.
The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament has been named the number one event in Show Jumping four times, and Rolex is proud to have been associated with it since 1989.
Rolex Testimonee Eric Lamaze, who won The International, presented by Rolex, at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2007 and 2011, said, “For me, Spruce Meadows is one of the most exciting venues in the world. As you proceed through the course the noise gets louder and louder; as a rider I’ve never heard anything like it and the horses feel it, too.
“It’s the Super Bowl of Show Jumping and gives you chills when you come into the ring. You want to put in that clear round to hear the crowd come to life.”
The finest riders and horses from round the globe will be vying for victory and leading the way will be Rolex’s Equestrian Testimonees.
At its heart, top-class sport is all about performance. To be the very best, an athlete must be able to repeatedly deliver under pressure. As the world’s leading makers of timepieces, this is something Rolex understands perfectly.
But some of the fascination in equestrian sport comes from the fact that, however talented and consistent the human athlete may be, he or she must possess an exceptional range of complementary abilities in order to form a winning partnership with the equine athlete.
They must be patient, sportsmanlike and sympathetic – but also courageous, resilient and quick-thinking. It is these qualities that turn a rider into a horseman, qualities found at the heart of every Rolex Testimonee.
Eric Lamaze is a Canadian sporting hero. He won individual gold at the 2008 Olympics, and his many Spruce Meadows victories include two at The International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex (the predecessor to the now CP International). He is respected worldwide for his outstanding horsemanship and will be one of Scott Brash’s toughest opponents.
Kent Farrington is the United States’ highest-rated show jumper. His 2015 form has been superb, and includes a win in the RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, another at Spruce Meadows in June and again in the Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex, in July. He has yet to win the grand prix at the ‘Masters’ Tournament, and is determined to make it happen.
The Europe-based riders will have further to travel but are still in contention for the prestigious prize.
Kevin Staut has established himself as one of the top riders in the world and travels to Canada looking to claim his first Spruce Meadows title. Swiss leading rider Steve Guerdat has accumulated some impressive results in 2015. With a victory at the World Cup, held in Las Vegas earlier this year, he is a strong contender for the prize.
Rolex’s newest and youngest Testimonee, Bertram Allen from Ireland, will make his Spruce Meadows debut this year. At only 19 years-old, Allen has proved he has maturity beyond his years after becoming the youngest ever rider to compete in the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Caen, where he placed in the top 10.
Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance and prestige. Pioneer in the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905, the brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism introduced in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities, as well as philanthropic programmes.
SPRUCE MEADOWS INTERNATIONAL – PAST WINNERS
2014 Ian Millar (CAN), Dixson
2013 Pieter Devos (BEL), Candy
2012 Oliver Philippaerts (BEL), Cabrio Van De Heffinck
2011 Eric Lamaze (CAN), Hickstead
2010 Jeroen Dubbledam (NED), Simon
2009 McLain Ward (USA), Sapphire
2008 Nick Skelton (GBR), Arko III
2007 Eric Lamaze (CAN), Hickstead
2006 Eugenie Angot (FRA), Cigale du Tallis
2005 Beezie Madden (USA), Judgement
2004 Jos Lansink (BEL), Cumano
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 12, 2015 – Kent Farrington (USA) and Amalaya Investments’ Voyeur concluded the Spruce Meadows ‘Pan American’ Tournament CSI 5*, presented by Rolex, with a masterful win Sunday. Competing in the $400,000 Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex, competition ended impressively as the three highest ranked American riders in the world claimed top honors. With Farrington leading the way, Beezie Madden (USA) finished second aboard Abigail Wexner’s Simon, and McLain Ward (USA) placed third riding Sagamore Farm’s Rothchild.
Thirty-three entries contested course designer Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) first round track, with nine combinations earning the chance to jump-off, and five clear rounds over the short course.
Colombia’s Roberto Teran set the standard in the jump-off aboard ARK Partners LLC’s Arkos des Rosiers Z, clear in 42.36 seconds, to eventually fifth. Charlie Jayne (USA) and Alex R. Jayne’s Chill R Z immediately upped the pace, finishing with a time of 39.56 seconds to earn the fourth place prize.
Ward jumped the next clear, and easily took the lead with his remarkable partner, Rothchild, in 38.98 seconds. The lead quickly changed hands, however, as Farrington and Voyeur blasted through the course in 36.71 seconds. Last to go, Madden and Simon jumped into second with their time of 38.09 seconds.
Rich Fellers (USA) and Harry and Mollie Chapman’s Flexible clocked in at 38.14 seconds, but brought down the final fence to place sixth with the fastest four-fault round.
Farrington won the same competition in 2014 aboard RCG Farm’s Uceko and was back this time aboard the talented Voyeur, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Tolano van’t Riethof x Goodwill).
Farrington and Voyeur most recently won the $400,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, during June’s ‘National’ Tournament and have been on a hot streak all season. On Sunday, the pair sprinted easily through the jump-off course to secure a substantial margin of victory.
“I had the advantage in the jump-off today of going after McLain,” Farrington noted. “He is one of the most competitive riders in the world, and we always have a good rivalry between us, so I got to watch him go. Unfortunately, coming after me was one of my other rivals, also one of the best in the world (Beezie Madden). It was a tough day of sport today and I thought my horse was fantastic.”
“My horse has a huge gallop,” Farrington commented on his jump-off. “Between the second and third fence I think I did one less stride than everybody else in the competition. The rest of it, I just kind of stayed on the same pace. He has a monster gallop, and he is naturally fast across the ground anyway and that is a big advantage in a field like that.”
In the first course, Voyeur was exceptionally strong and caused Farrington to adjust his ride to accomplish the clear round.
“When he is very fresh and he is really jumping, the downside is that he gets really strong,” Farrington explained. “He jumped out of the double really high, and coming towards the gate he got very strong with me. I had to do an extra stride that I did not plan on. It was a bit more work than I was expecting, but he pulled it off.”
Madden worked hard for her clear round as well, as Simon was also extra strong throughout the first round. In the jump-off, she then rode the plan that she knew was best for her horse.
“He was actually a little stronger than usual today,” Madden detailed. “I don’t know that I have ever shown him this many weeks in a big field, so I think it is catching up with me a little bit, but the good part about him is you get him to the jump even within range and he tries his heart out to make it over.”
“When I have him in a jump-off, I almost don’t watch the others because I want to just stick to my plan and do what I know I can do,” Madden added. “I have some limitations with how much I can let him out of the bag, but he is surprisingly fast anyway.”
Ward and Rothchild are always ones to watch in the jump-off, and they did not disappoint, with a fantastic clear round to land in third place. It had rained most of the day and throughout the competition, and Ward noted that the conditions were not ideal for ‘Bongo.’
“I was thrilled with Bongo. He has had two great competitions here building up to the Pan American Games,” the rider remarked. “Traditionally, he has not been great in the wet going. The footing was actually very good considering the amount of rain we had, but that has always been an uncomfortable type ground for him.”
“To be frank, that was the round I could do today in that situation,” Ward said of his jump-off. “I would never have been able to beat Kent with his horse’s stride. It was one of those rounds that Kent does where the day is over basically. I felt with the Pan Am Games coming, and with the conditions, that was the right round to do and I am just thrilled with his performance. He came here, he did two grand prixs and jumped two double clears, so I can’t really be too upset with that.”
Ward explained where he left the door open with his time, specifically two strides that could have made a difference, stating, “I did one too many rolling back on the double. I was a little bit worried about the vertical coming in because he (Rothchild) will cut right on you. For sure to the last jump, I knew both Beezie and Kent could do one less stride. In the wetter going, he does not cover the ground quite as well as he would when it is firm, but even leaving out those two strides I could never have caught Kent. It was a pretty significant margin.”
For Farrington, course designer Guilherme Jorge did a good job with the conditions he was dealt.
“We didn’t know how much rain there was going to be or how wet the ground was going to be,” Farrington stated. “It was probably a more technical course today than size. It was a little generous with the time allowed, but I think that he took into account the rain and the wet ground, so I think that was a smart play for today. It was better to have a couple extra clear rather than having us go ripping around the ring when it was really wet in the first round. I think that was a good strategy, and if you look at the top three finishers, those are the top three horses a lot of places in the world.”
Jorge agreed, noting, “The idea with the time allowed was exactly that. We didn’t know how much rain we would still have during the competition, so we didn’t want to press too much on that. I still think that nine is an okay number for a jump-off. It is a little bit more than we are used to here at Spruce Meadows, but the quality was still very good and like Kent said, the top three are top three anywhere in the world.”
With a fantastic Summer Series under their belts, Farrington and Ward are now off to Toronto where they will compete in the 2015 Pan American Games. Ward will pilot Rothchild in the Games, while Farrington will jump up-and-coming talent, Gazelle. Madden is on her way to Europe for the rest of the summer.
Also competing on Sunday, a $34,000 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m Derby was held in the North American Ring with a win for USA’s Rich Fellers aboard Chapman and Fellers’ Colgan Cruise. Twenty-five pairs jumped the one round competition over a course set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA).
The course saw three clear rounds, with the win for the fastest time of 100 second going to Fellers and the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Cruising x Clover Hill). Andres Rodriguez (VEN) and Arao Enterprises LLC’s Fifty Fifty 111 finished second in 108 seconds, and Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) placed third in 115.65 seconds aboard Mario Onate’s Melbourne.
The Spruce Meadows Summer Series of Tournaments concluded Sunday, after five weeks of top level, international competition.
Of 19 Nations entered in FEI competition, 12 nations depart Calgary, Alberta with Championship Titles, important FEI World Ranking points, and their piece of over 6.2 million dollars in total prize money.
This summer tour saw great sport, family fun, delicious cuisine, fantastic shopping, and for the first time ever, hundreds of participants joined in the amusement of the Pawsitively Fun Run in support of Alberta Guide Dogs and a Military style obstacle course, the Heroes behind the Heroes Run supporting the Military Families Fund. If you have not already, please visit SpruceMeadows.com for more information and registration for this popular six run series!
The hugely successful 4th and 40th Party was an anniversary throw back to our roots of the original Spruce Meadows hosted exhibitor parties. Invited athletes, corporate supporters, media and fans enjoyed dinner and dancing to entertainment by Country Music Star, Corb Lund, in a completely transformed Spruce Meadows Riding Hall.
With over 1,000 horses traveling with their some 5,000 support staff, over 50 retail vendors/exhibitors and over 230,000 Show Jumping fans and families visiting from all over the world, Spruce Meadows is delighted to share 40 Years of Excellence with all of you, and hopes to see you back in September for the showcase event, the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament.
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 11, 2015 – Venezuela’s Andres Rodriguez is finishing the 2015 Spruce Meadows Summer Series just the way he started. The rider won two days in a row to begin the ‘National’ Tournament in June with Fifty Fifty 111 and Darlon van de Groenhove, respectively. He won again with Fifty Fifty 111 the first day of the ‘North American’ Tournament last week, and Saturday of the ‘Pan American’ Tournament, he dominated the competition with two wins in one day aboard two different horses.
The ‘Pan American’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, hosted two competitions in the Meadows on the Green Saturday. Rodriguez began the day with a win in the $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m aboard SF Ariantha, and continued to victory in the highlight $34,000 McDaniel & Associates Cup 1.50m riding Verdi. The ‘Pan American’ Tournament concludes on Sunday, July 12, featuring the $400,000 Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex.
Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) saw 32 entries in the $34,000 McDaniel & Associates Cup, but a tight time allowed caused problems for many of the riders and only two were able to complete the course without fault. Seventh in the order, Rodriguez and Verdi were the first pair to jump clear. It looked like they could win as the competition neared its end with no other clear rounds, but last to go Emanuel Andrade (VEN) and Bon Jovi made it a jump-off.
“For a while I thought I was going to win with the only clear round. All the horses kept coming and having rails, and there was the last to go and still no clears,” Rodriguez detailed. “I had my helmet on, but I was already thinking that I may have won and then Emanuel went clear. I ran and got the horse ready and warmed up. Our plan for the jump-off was to go fast. Not crazy fast, but fast, and let Emanuel finish the competition. If he was able to catch that time and be clear, then he would have won, but we put everything on him and luck turned out on our side.”
Rodriguez and the 13-year-old Warmblood gelding (Andiamo x Libero H) cleared the short course in 33.82 seconds and set the challenge. Andrade and Bon Jovi were fast, but a rail came down and the rider chose to retire on course.
Commenting on his win, Rodriguez smiled, “It is amazing. The way this horse jumped today was really great. A big field like this one is perfect for him. He has an amazing, huge step. His step is so enormous that sometimes it gets me in trouble because it is so big that you don’t know if you are on the earlier stride or the one you want to be. He is hard to maneuver in a smaller ring, but this grass field with big, wide fences suits him perfectly.”
“I am excited about this horse,” Rodriguez continued. “We have him going in a really good way, so I hope we can plan some big things for him. We did him in the Global Champions Tour in Miami and had a fence down in the grand prix, but he was really good. We are hoping to bring him back to that level and compete him in more 5* grand prix.”
Earlier in the day, Rodriguez and SF Ariantha won the $34,000 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m competition in a seven-horse jump-off out of 44 starters. Brianne Goutal (USA) and Remarkable Farm’s Ballade van het Indihof began the jump-off with a fast clear round in 29.63 seconds. Last to go, Rodriguez and SF Ariantha were just faster in 29.41 seconds for the win. François Mathy (BEL) and Elvis van de Vrunte placed third in 29.75 seconds.
Rodriguez started riding SF Ariantha, a ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Corland x Emillion), just two months ago. At the time, Jennifer and Mike Crooks owned her, and just last week Robert and Sofi Castro bought the mare for Rodriguez to continue riding.
“I have to say thank you to Jennifer and Mike, who first trusted me with the ride on the mare. Since the first day I rode her, I was really excited. Every single jump she tries her best; even little fences, she always tried so hard,” Rodriguez stated. “Then Robert and Sofi purchased the mare last week. This was their first week owning the mare and she was clear in every competition she did, so they are pretty happy too.”
“We have worked hard for owners, and now for them to be giving us back the chance to have horses of this caliber is really amazing,” Rodriguez noted. “I think this mare is the best horse I have had. I have been close to winning a competition with her a few times and it has not happened, so for her to win on her last day here is really amazing.”
Rodriguez was close to winning Friday’s 1.45m competition as well, but had some bad luck in the jump-off. Even in Saturday’s jump-off, he needed a little luck when SF Ariantha almost fell on course.
“This is a funny sport,” Rodriguez remarked. “Yesterday, I had the time on two horses in the jump-off and I had the last fence down, and today I thought I rode the last fence worse than I did yesterday and it stayed up. That is just the luck factor in our sport and that is the way it is. I don’t think I had the perfect stride to the last fence today; I was a bit close, but you need a little bit of luck to win.”
Commenting on Ariantha’s slip in the jump-off, Rodriguez detailed, “I didn’t know what happened. She was very fast the first three fences and then she landed from that vertical. It wasn’t a slip to one side; she was pretty much on her belly on the ground with four legs open. I was trying to pick up the canter again and at that point, I really have such high hopes for this mare that I wasn’t sure if I should pull up or keep going. As soon as she picked up the canter again, she was three strides in front of the double. It was amazing for her to pick up like that and jump the double the way she did. That was unbelievable.”
Rodriguez has high hopes for SF Ariantha and plans to compete in Vancouver in August before making a plan for the rest of her year. “I really want to take my time with her; I think she is a big time horse,” he concluded.
With five wins on four different horses in the summer’s international competition, Rodriguez has his sights set on Sunday’s $400,000 Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex, to conclude the 2015 Spruce Meadows Summer Series. He will jump another horse, Caballito. Then he is off to represent Venezuela at the Pan American Games in Toronto.
Eduardo Menezes Tops $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 10, 2015 – USA’s Richard Spooner jumped to victory aboard his own Chivas Z in the $85,000 ASHCOR Technologies Cup on Friday of the ‘Pan American’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, at Spruce Meadows. Friday’s competition also included a $34,000 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m competition with a win for Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes and Carushka 2. The ‘Pan American’ Tournament continues with world-class show jumping through Sunday, July 12.
Guilherme Jorge (BRA) is the course designer in the Meadows on the Green this week and set the 1.55m track for 43 starters in the $85,000 ASHCOR Technologies Cup. Fifteen entries jumped clear over the first round course and 14 returned for round two.
Speed was key for a win over Jorge’s jump-off track, but rails fell for many entries on the way to the finish line, and only four combinations cleared the short course without fault. Spooner and Chivas Z, a 16-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Cumano x Lord Gotthard), crossed the timers in 36.97 seconds for the win despite an unconventional finish.
“The jump-off started off fantastic actually and ended with a major chocolate chip,” Spooner laughed. “I absolutely missed to the last jump. I wanted to do one less stride, and then at the last minute I realized that there was a snowball’s chance in hell that we were going to get there. I just kind of dropped the reins and closed my eyes, hoped for the best and sat back so that if something bad happened I wasn’t the first person at the scene of the accident. Somehow he jumped it clear and we were fast enough in the beginning that even with the debacle in the end, we ended up with the win.”
Hardin Towell (USA) and Jennifer Gates’ Emilie de Diamant AS finished second in 39.15 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) and Kessler Show Stables’ Cylana placed third in 40.78 seconds, and Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) and Mario Onate’s Whin Whin took fourth with a time of 42.74 seconds. Coming in fifth, McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z had the fastest time of the day in 36.63 seconds, but dropped a rail at the last jump.
Spooner explained that Chivas Z is not typically the kind of horse that would save the day in a tricky situation like that.
“Not at all actually,” the rider remarked. “The horse is very careful and quite sensitive, and we have been working through little issues, so the fact that he did that for me today – I am flabbergasted and quite impressed with his willingness to carry on even with my gross negligence.”
“He is a wonderful horse,” Spooner added. “He is really sweet and loving. He is a little bit of a nervous-type, a little spooky here and there, but that is what makes him so careful at 16 years old. I have just been so impressed with him during this circuit. He just continues to wow me.”
Menezes Gets a Win for Brazil
Friday’s international competition in the Meadows on the Green got underway with the $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m and a win for Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes and Carushka 2. The competition saw 53 entries, with 15 advancing to the jump-off and six double clear rounds. Menezes and Carushka 2 were second to go and completed a fast, clear round in 37.28 seconds that would prove unbeatable.
Brianne Goutal (USA) and Remarkable Farms’ Ballade van het Indihof jumped into second place in 37.61 seconds. Thursday’s winners, Pablo Barrios (VEN) and Emanuel Andrade’s Fananka A had another great day, finishing third with their time of 37.91 seconds.
Carushka 2 is an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Caspar x Continue) that Menezes has owned for three years.
“She is a winning machine,” the rider described. “She always goes clean and she is super fast, so she is a really fun horse to have for these 1.45m and 1.50m competitions. She is super careful; she jumps clean in 90% of her competitions, so she is a great horse.”
Detailing his jump-off round, Menezes stated, “We know already here at Spruce Meadows that all jump-offs are super fast. They are even faster when you have 15 plus riders in the jump-off, so my plan was to go as fast as possible. I know that I can count on her to go clean, so I was just trying to focus on my job and fortunately everything worked fine for us.”
“We are always pleased to come here,” Menezes added. “I have been coming here now for 15 years and we love it. The sport is always great and we are happy to be here.”
Menezes will jump one more 1.45m competition on Saturday and then heads to Toronto, where he will represent Brazil at the Pan American Games with his top horse, Quintol.
Competition continues at the ‘Pan American’ Tournament on Saturday featuring the $34,000 McDaniel & Associates Cup 1.50m as well as another $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m.
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 9, 2015 – The 2015 Spruce Meadows Summer Series began its final week of competition, the ‘Pan American’ Tournament CSI 5*, presented by Rolex, with wins for Pablo Barrios (VEN) and Abigail McArdle (USA) on Thursday. The ‘Pan American’ Tournament continues with world-class show jumping through Sunday, July 12.
Pablo Barrios led the victory gallop in the $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.50m riding Emanuel Andrade’s Fananka A in the Meadows on the Green. Out of 48 entries, 13 cleared Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) speed track, and Barrios and Fananka A blazed the winning time of 56.73 seconds. Hardin Towell (USA) and Jennifer Gates’ Lucifer V finished second in 56.91 seconds, and Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) placed third aboard Mario Onate’s Charielle, with a time of 58.09 seconds.
Barrios has had great results throughout the summer at Spruce Meadows, but this was his first international win of the series. Fananka A, a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Chin Chin x Kannan), is a new mount for the rider this summer and he explained that Thursday’s course suited the horse perfectly.
“I am happy that I finally got one victory,” Barrios stated. “I never expected to have it with her because she is just a new ride for me. Emanuel let me ride her because I was a little short on FEI horses. Basically, we trained her to do the derbies. I was a little unlucky in both derby competitions, but she placed in both.”
“Finally, this course was perfect for her,” Barrios continued. “When I walked the course I really liked it for her. It was long lines for a big horse and she has a big step. Two of the tightest turns were to her good side on her left lead. Everything was perfect for her, so I went for it to see if I could win and I was lucky.”
“She has a very different style,” Barrios said of Fananka. “The quality is top; I have never ridden a horse with that much quality, but the rideability is a little tough. You have to place her in a distance that she feels comfortable. Normally, she gets deeper than what you want or she will put herself in a place that you think she is in trouble, but she is so careful and she tries so hard. I do not know how, but she leaves the rails up.”
Further detailing his round, Barrios explained, “I was fast in the rollback from number three to the plank. Then I was the only one in the competition who did seven strides to the combination. She has a huge step and she goes a little left, so I planned the seven and it worked perfect. I think I was very quick there; everybody was doing nine or eight strides. Then I was fast in the rollback after the liverpool. Again, she goes left and she turned great, so I made good time there.”
Barrios hopes to continue riding Fananka and thanked the Andrade Family for letting him compete the mare this summer. He also thanked sponsors: Animo, Hagyard Equine Clinic, Devoucoux, Purina, Choice of Champions, Healthy Coat, and Der Dau.
On Friday, Barrios plans to compete ZL Group, Inc.’s Zara Leandra in the $85,000 Ashcor Technologies Cup 1.55m. The mare has been competing very well and he hopes to jump her in Sunday’s $400,000 Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex, to conclude the Summer Series.
McArdle Opens with a Win
International competition at the ‘Pan American’ Tournament got underway in the North American Ring Thursday morning with a win for Abigail McArdle (USA) and David McArdle’s Cosma 20 in the $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m. Held over a one round speed track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA), the competition saw 50 competitors with 14 clear rounds. McArdle and Cosma 20 clocked in at 65.90 seconds for the win.
Hardin Towell and Jennifer Gates’ New York placed second in 68.46 seconds, and Kent Farrington (USA) finished third with a time of 68.76 seconds aboard Haity McNerney and Amalaya Investments’ Cha Cha Cha 7.
McArdle and Cosma 20 have been a winning team for several years, and the 12-year-old Hanoverian mare (Couleur Rubin x Stakkato) proved why she is a winner on Thursday, speeding through the course and giving a little extra effort at the end.
“I got lucky,” McArdle detailed. “She lost a shoe and she slipped a little bit on the way to the last line, but she still true blue left the ground for me and had a super finish.”
Thursday’s win marks the pair’s third victory in the 1.45m division for this year’s Summer Series and McArdle explained that the venue suits her horse well.
“Spruce Meadows is a great venue for her because of the grass fields; she is able to really gallop,” the rider explained. “In today’s course, the way the numbers were, she was able to keep a big stride and a big gallop where the other horses had to steady in the lines. She is also really quick away from the fences.”
“It is important to remember with her that where other people may leave out strides in the lines, I have to not get so focused on that and really try to make it up in the turns and always just stick to my plan,” McArdle added. “We have had a super partnership. I consider her the best 1.45m speed horse there is. She is super careful.”
Competition continues on Friday featuring the $34,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m followed by the $85,000 Ashcor Technologies Cup 1.55m.
Todd Minikus was third with Two Swan Farm’s Babalou 41 in the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup on July 4th at Spruce Meadows. (Photo courtesy of Spruce Meadows Media)
Calgary, AB, Canada (July 7, 2015) – 2015 U.S. Pan American Games Show Jumping Team Traveling Reserve Todd Minikus continues to occupy the leader board before the 2015 Games in Toronto, delivering two trips to Spruce Meadows podiums this past week. At Spruce Meadows’ ‘North American’ CSI 5*, Minikus took home reserve in the $85,000 Enbridge Cup 1.50m on July 5th with Quality Group’s Quality Girl, and third with Two Swan Farm’s Babalou 41 in the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
Less than a week before, the 2007 U.S. Pan American Games Team Gold Medalist had the victory lap against a field of 77, riding Plum Creek Hollow Farm’s Con Capilot to first-place in the $34,000 WestJet Cup of the ‘Canada One’ Tournament FEI series at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
In the $85,000 Enbridge Cup, Minikus and twelve-year-old Oldenburg (Quidams Ruben x Dobrock) mare Quality Girl kept the heat on fellow American rider and two-time Olympic Gold medalist, McClain Ward, on HH Carlos Z, staying within less than a second of Ward’s 40.50-second winning effort and delivering the second-fastest (41.26 seconds) clean ride over Santiago Verala’s 1.50m course.
Minikus also faced two-time U.S. Olympic Gold medalist and three-time Queen’s Cup champion Beezie Madden on July 4 in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Minikus finished third on ten-year-old Oldenburg mare Babalou 41, after Madden retired Cortes C and ceded to the 39.52-second effort by Ward and HH Azur in the jump-off.
Minikus was thrilled with Babalou 41 and her performance, saying “I have been riding her since she came to the states as an extremely green five/six-year-old in the schooling jumpers and on, so it is very rewarding for me to get to this stage with her. I am very proud of her and very thankful to Two Swans Farm for their support.”
The Florida-based rider, with over 75 grand prix titles, has been amply successful in acclimating his Pan American Games Traveling Reserve partner, Babalou 41, to Canadian show soil leading up to Toronto. Earlier in June at Spruce Meadows, the pair were second in the $210,000 CP Grand Prix during the ‘Continental’ CSI 5* Tournament, and fourth in the $34,000 Duncan Ross Cup. The pair had a spectacular start to their season in March at Wellington, Florida, with double clears to anchor a U.S. squad to victory in the $100,000 Nations Cup and first-place in the $150,000 Winter Equestrian Festival 8 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix.
When not proving his and his horses’ talent in the show ring, Todd Minikus offers sales and training services just minutes from Wellington, Florida’s Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) show grounds. Follow Team Minikus on Facebook or click www.toddminikus.com to ensure you don’t miss a minute of Minikus or the news that keeps the world jumping.
McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z Win $85,000 Enbridge Cup
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 5, 2015 – Spruce Meadows hosted the final day of competition in its ‘North American’ Tournament CSI 5* on Sunday with a win for USA’s Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis 2 in the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby. Earlier in the day, McLain Ward (USA) and HH Carlos Z won the $85,000 Enbridge Cup 1.50m.
Howard and 16-year-old Lennox Lewis 2 (an Oldenburg gelding by Loreatus x Weizenkorn) have been together for ten years, so the pair definitely had experience on their side on Sunday. They also won the same competition in 2009 and have two wins in the $210,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby from 2011 and 2013.
Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios designed the derby course for Spruce Meadows eight years ago with a demanding 19 numbered obstacles and 25 jumping efforts. It is an incredible test of endurance and stamina for both horse and rider, including double liverpools, a table bank, a 26-foot, steep derby bank, and the Devil’s Dyke.
The course is the same for every derby competition and has only seen three clear entries out 199 starters since it was first set in 2007. Beezie Madden (USA) cleared the course twice aboard Judgement, the first year in 2007 and again in 2008. Pablo Barrios (VEN) went without fault in 2010 with G&C Sinatra. As is often the case, no one was able to jump a clear round on Sunday. There were four entries that finished on just four faults, however, and a jump-off was held to break their tie.
Ben Asselin (CAN) and Linda Southern-Heathcott’s Doremi were first to jump-off, with one rail down in 45.58 seconds, putting the pair in fourth place. Lisa Carlsen (CAN) and Alycia Hayes’ World’s Judgement were next to go, with a clear round in 36.86 seconds that landed the duo in second. Howard and Lennox Lewis 2 followed, with the fastest clear round in 36.63 seconds to take the win. Last to go, Richard Spooner (USA) and Show Jumping Syndication Intl’s Cristallo had a rail down in 40.55 seconds to place third.
As Howard detailed, her horse has jumped the derby course so many times that he could probably do it in his sleep at this point.
“The first derby earlier this summer, he was actually going very well and I got to the top of the bank and started daydreaming,” Howard laughed. “I said to myself, ‘I wonder how many times we have come down this bank?’ I was just so nonchalant; he just came to a complete halt at the bottom of the bank because I did not even tell him that he was supposed to continue on.”
One of Lennox Lewis 2’s strong suits is jumping the Devil’s Dyke (or grob), which causes problems for many other horses.
“In all the derbies I have ever shown him in, win, lose or draw, he has only ever had a rail once in the grob,” Howard detailed. “The water jump he is a little lackadaisical. I have to practice the water a lot because he would rather canter through it or maybe stop and take a drink than actually jump it. That is actually my biggest concern. If you were watching, everybody did seven strides to the water and I actually did eight because I really wanted to get him back on his hind end and just blast him at it as hard as I could. I was hoping that momentum would carry me past the tape and it worked out.”
In addition to her four wins with Lennox Lewis 2, Howard has two other derby victories with two different horses at Spruce Meadows.
“The key is just to have a good horse, and it is really that simple,” she noted. “There are not a lot of horses that you would show in a derby, but the ones that do it well can do it with their eyes closed. I have had three or four now that are just really good at it.”
“They cannot be a cold horse because they run out of gas,” Howard continued. “First of all, they have to have blood and second of all, they have to be very brave with a great, calm mind. My younger horse today (Moondoggie) exerted all of his energy at the beginning of the course. I came around the corner to the last two jumps and he just ran out of gas. He had tried too hard at the beginning of the course, whereas Lenny just comes in and says, ‘Oh, we’re back in the derby and here we go.’”
Lennox Lewis 2 had a break from competing at the top level and showed instead with an amateur rider last year.
“Since I got him back this May, I think he is actually fresher than he was two years ago,” Howard noted. “He had done a lot at the top level and dropping down to the 1.35m and 1.40m I think gave his body a bit of a break. I do feel he is as fresh as he has ever been.”
“He is also an extremely sound horse,” Howard added. “I have been doing this for about 50 years now and I have never had a horse as sound as Lennox Lewis. He has never missed a show. We bought him as a six-year-old and he is 16 now. His legs never fill up. He never limps. If you go back to the barns right now, other horses might be resting a leg or feeling a little tired. He will be standing there, I promise, four on the floor, eyes pricked, begging for food. He is just an extremely athletic, sound horse.”
Second place finisher, Lisa Carlsen, has a horse with great lineage for the derbies and explained how she has improved with World’s Judgement in the four derbies that the pair has jumped. The mare is by Judgement, the stallion that jumped two of only three clear rounds on the course with rider Beezie Madden.
“As Leslie said, they have to be blood horses and brave, and that she is,” Carlsen stated. “She is a unique horse. I cannot warm her up, so I only get on her about two horses away from my round. Her warm up is on a lunge line up top where she can settle. I just get on and canter two laps and walk in. By the end of the course, I might have more rails than the beginning because she starts to get her blood up too much, but she is getting better every time I go to the ring.”
Course designer Leopoldo Palacios explained that endurance is very important to success in the derby and that you not only need a good horse, but a good rider.
“For many years I have seen this derby and Leslie can say that you need a good horse, but you need to be a good rider too,” Palacios remarked. “For jumping derbies, the rider needs to administrate the energy of the horse, and she really does that. From the very beginning, Leslie is very soft, she is very light in the saddle the whole time, and at the end she still has enough horse. A lot of riders start fighting at the beginning, and then at the end they do not have enough horse. In the derbies, the endurance is very important. I need to congratulate these riders for doing it well. They are good riders and they know how to do it right.”
Ward Wins Another
McLain Ward (USA) carried his winning momentum from Saturday’s $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup into Sunday morning with a victory in the $85,000 Enbridge Cup 1.50m aboard Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z.
Course designer Santiago Varela (ESP) set the track for 39 entries in round one of the Enbridge Cup, with 16 advancing to the jump-off, and nine double clear rounds. Ward and HH Carlos Z blazed to the win in 40.50 seconds. Todd Minikus (USA) and Quality Girl finished second in 41.26 seconds. Pablo Barrios (VEN) and Antares placed third in a time of 41.27 seconds, and Kent Farrington (USA) took fourth in 41.38 seconds riding Gazelle.
The win marks Carlos and Ward’s third victory in this year’s Summer Series along with many other top placings. HH Carlos Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chellano Z x Voltaire), is always fast and careful.
“He is a remarkable little horse,” Ward remarked. “I have been lucky enough over the years to have a few like him. He is just a great little competitor.”
“I have a great string of horses,” Ward said of his success this summer. “I have great people behind me, great sponsors. I have the same team that I have always had, but we all bring a lot of experience and knowledge to the table. It is always the same in a series – if things start off well, typically you keep going that direction. If it starts out a little rough, it is sometimes hard to pull yourself out. I have been on the top and I have been on the bottom and I probably will be both again, so I will enjoy it while it is going well!”
Carlos jumped several times this week, but the cards played differently each time, and Ward chose to keep his preparation for Sunday’s competition simple.
“It was a long week; this is his fourth competition of the week,” Ward noted. “On Wednesday, he was in good form and then he lost his shoe in the jump-off and kind of fell down. Yesterday, he was in great form and had the time in the jump-off and I messed up the last fence. He doesn’t need much practice. Today we just walked him to the ring right out of his stall. He jumped a few jumps and went in the ring.”
Commenting on his winning jump-off, Ward detailed, “He is very fast everywhere. Everything was showing up nice. I had a nice cut on the original fence number one. I got the six-stride, which was a little longer than I thought to the Rolex jump, and then I think I was very fast to the last. He is so careful; you can kind of leave out all the way.”
The 2015 Spruce Meadows Summer Series concludes with one more week of competition, the ‘Pan American’ Tournament CSI 4*, presented by Rolex, on July 9-12, 2015.
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 4, 2015 – The stars aligned for McLain Ward (USA) and HH Azur to earn a major victory in Saturday’s $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows. There are not many major competitions left in the world that Ward has not won, but he will now have his name etched in history in one of the sport’s most prestigious events aboard a rising young star.
For the momentous win, Ward topped a U.S. showdown over Olympic teammate Beezie Madden (USA) and her top mount, Cortes ‘C’. Todd Minikus and Babalou 41 completed a U.S. trifecta in the top three as the nation celebrated its Independence Day. Earlier in the afternoon, Calgary’s own Kara Chad won the $85,000 TD Cup aboard Star la Tuiliere.
Course designer Santiago Varela (ESP) set a difficult track for the competitors in Saturday’s $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. The competition took place over two rounds with a jump-off if necessary. The first round was a speed round against the clock, which saw 49 entries in total. The top twelve competitors from the first round then returned for round two in reverse order of penalties. In the end, USA’s Beezie Madden and McLain Ward were the only competitors able to jump clear in both rounds, necessitating a competitive jump-off to break their tie.
It was a storybook ending for Ward, who earned his first win in the prestigious competition with three perfect rounds to take home the winner’s share of $132,000. Madden and Cortes ‘C’ had trouble in the jump-off and ended up retiring, but still took home a substantial $80,000 check for their second place finish.
“It means a lot,” Ward said of his victory. “It is a competition that I have always really coveted and always wanted to win. I think I have come here with a lot of very good entries, including Sapphire, over the years and taken a good shot. I am very excited about this horse in my life, so to see her step up in her first major grand prix is great. It is an incredible horse.”
It was a hard fought battle through three rounds of competition for Ward and HH Azur, and the nine-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui) was the only horse to complete all three rounds and clear every obstacle.
“I do not think I have sat on a horse like this,” Ward stated. “I knew she could do it well, but there were so many things that she had not seen – the bicycle jump, the Chinese wall, the double Liverpools. There were so many questions, and that is what makes her so unique; you put it in front of her and she answers the question every time. Every time we have stepped her up or set a benchmark, that is how she has responded.”
HH Azur is a horse that is owned in partnership by Hunter Harrison ‘s Double H Farm and Francois Mathy. As Ward explained, a lot of things had to happen for him to get to where he is with the horse today.
“You wonder in life if certain things are meant to be, because I probably did everything not to get this horse for a while and still ended up with her,” he noted. “I had a great partnership with Hunter years ago and we reunited a couple years ago. He is an incredible man, and sort of a father figure in my life, and Francois Mathy even more so. He was my dad’s partner for 30 years and I have worked with him since I was 17. He was a great rider, an Olympic medalist, a great horse dealer and horseman, and a real inspiration for me. He basically told us about this horse, and said he was 70 years old and he wanted to own a great horse in the sport and would sell us half. They own it together 50/50 and it is a pretty exciting situation.”
Speaking about each round with HH Azur, Ward detailed, “I was actually really nervous for the competition because I think so highly of the horse. I did not want to let the horse down; I wanted it to go well. She felt like she cantered around the first round really easy. I thought it was a great course because in the first round you had a pretty wide level of competitors – you had the best in the world here and you had some people getting their feet wet at this level. Santiago did a beautiful job of weeding that out.”
“The second round was big,” Ward continued. “The double Liverpools are always a difficult test and I thought it was particularly short today with two verticals, but she handled it beautifully. Then I figured in the jump-off with just Beezie and me, I would take a shot. The worst I could be was second.”
Madden has won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on three separate occasions in 2005, 2006, and 2012, but she was still not going to let Ward have it without a fight. She went second in the jump-off, but retired on course after Cortes slipped and stopped out in the combination.
“I think I kind of matched McLain on fences one, two and three, and then I ended up going around the island. I did not get inside, so I got a little worried and then I went fast. I think I made up time from the wall to the oxer and could have slowed down a little bit, but honestly Cortes was a little into the game by then,” Madden explained. “He kind of landed and turned, and then I saw the distance and I went to go for it and he slipped a little. In hindsight, obviously I should have taken a little more time there, but he was a little into the game and I was a little into the game. I thought it best just to go with it, but it did not work out. He still jumped amazing.”
Despite trouble in the jump-off, Cortes ‘C’ jumped two fantastic rounds to make it that far and Madden was happy with her start to the day.
“He felt amazing. I think every jump was just airy and confident. It might possibly be the best he has ever gone, and that is saying a lot,” she remarked. “He has had some super results already, but I would say not one jump felt risky today.”
Just one time fault in the second round kept Todd Minikus and Two Swans Farm’s Babalou 41 out of the jump-off, but Minikus was thrilled with his horse’s performance as well.
“I have been riding her since she came to the states as an extremely green five/six-year-old in the schooling jumpers and on, so it is very rewarding for me to get to this stage with her,” Minikus acknowledged. “She is extremely green for this level of competition. The first week here we struggled a bit. The second week she was actually second to McLain in the grand prix. I am very proud of her and very thankful for Two Swans Farm for their support.”
“I would also like to thank Spruce Meadows,” Minikus added. “This is always such a special event, and everybody at Spruce Meadows does such a fantastic job that it is really a pleasure to compete here.”
Kara Chad Tops $85,000 TD Cup
The $85,000 TD Cup 1.50m was held in a winning round format on Saturday with a big win for Canada’s Kara Chad (19). Thirty entries jumped in round one, and course designer Santiago Varela saw nine clear rounds and one entry with a single time fault advance to round two for the top ten.
Kara Chad jumped to victory with the fastest of six clear trips over the second round course. She stopped the clock in a time of 45.55 seconds aboard Stone Ridge Farm’s Star la Tuiliere. Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) finished second with Mario Onate’s Charielle in 46.33 seconds. Pablo Barrios (VEN) placed third aboard ZL Group, Inc.’s Zara Leandra in a time of 47.96 seconds.
The win was Chad’s first in Spruce Meadows’ famous International Ring and a memorable moment in the young rider’s career.
“It is surreal,” she stated after leading the round of honor. “My horse was so good to me. I had a few difficult distances, but she really showed herself and was able to perform for me out there. Coming out of the ring, I was ecstatic. Of course when you come out, you want to hold on to that lead and that is exactly what happened.”
Chad got Star la Tuiliere, a nine-year-old Selle Francais mare (Dollar de la Pierre x Quick Star) in September of 2014.
“She is a little fighter,” the rider praised. “She is rather small, but she has all the jump and all the ability. We just moved up to our first 1.50m yesterday. She was incredible and showed so much talent, so then we decided to jump today because she is quite a quick horse and we thought she was good for the winning round. She is absolutely incredible.”
When Chad says “we,” she includes Eric Lamaze, who she and her sister, Bretton, began training with just before the start of the Summer Series. They previously rode with Susie Schroer and Dick Carvin for almost 12 years.
“I mean, it is Eric Lamaze; he is nothing but the best,” Chad smiled. “He just puts more of a competitive edge on everything. He is such a great trainer and I am having such a great time with him, so big thanks to Eric!”
Chad’s next stop is Europe, and she looks forward to diving into more international competition with a big win under her belt.
“For sure this changes your perspective a little bit. When you see that you are able to do this, you become more competitive, and you come out of the ring wanting more,” she admitted. “Going into Europe, that is exactly what I want to do.”
Growing up in Calgary, Chad had quite the cheering section for Saturday’s competition and received many congratulations after her win.
“It is pretty incredible,” she acknowledged. “The response from the riders is amazing and also the people from Spruce Meadows, for example Jon Garner (Competition Manager) and Ian Allison (Senior Vice-President Media). They were so ecstatic to see me out there and I got a big hug from both of them when I went out for the presentation. It is really nice to have a community to celebrate with.”
The ‘North American’ Tournament concludes on Sunday with the $85,000 Enbridge Cup followed by the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby.
Mario Deslauriers and Scout de la Cense Capture $34,000 Pepsi Challenge
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 3, 2015 – The ‘North American’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows continued on Friday with two feature competitions hosted in the International Ring and a win for USA’s Kent Farrington and RCG Farm’s Uceko in the highlight $50,000 Lafarge Cup 1.50m. Also competing on Friday, Mario Deslauriers took a big win in the $34,000 Pepsi Challenge 1.45m riding Lisa Deslauriers’ Scout de la Cense.
Continuing through Sunday, July 5, the ‘North American’ Tournament boasts $1.3 million in prize money across 14 FEI events throughout the week. Highlights include the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday and the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby on Sunday.
Spain’s Santiago Varela continued a successful week of course building with the $50,000 Lafarge Cup Friday evening. The competition saw 33 entries, with seven in the jump-off and three double clear rounds.
Emanuel Andrade (VEN) set the pace with a clear track in 44.39 seconds to place third with his own Bon Jovi. Kent Farrington and Uceko were next to clear the short course in a blistering pace of 42.22 seconds to take the win. Eric Lamaze (CAN) did his best to catch the time with Artisan Farms LLC’s Fine Lady 5, but finished just off the mark in 42.35 seconds to finish seconds.
In a very fast jump-off, Farrington knew he had to lay it all on the line with Lamaze coming right behind and three more riders to follow.
“These classes, especially the ones that do not have the most entries, the ones that are good are not just good, they are usually great,” Farrington stated. “You have some of the best riders in the world, so it is very difficult to win a class here.”
“The horse is very brave,” Farrington said of Uceko. “He has quite a big step, so I think right from the beginning (of the jump-off), fence one to two on his rollback was already pretty aggressive. I did not watch the others, but I would probably guess that he did at least one, if not two less strides on that turn. Then across the middle of the field he also makes up a lot of ground because his stride is so long. I would say those are two places in particular I think he always gets a little bit ahead of the other horses.”
Uceko, a Dutch Warmblood gelding (Celano x Koriander), is 14 years old and Farrington has been careful to manage his schedule and choose the appropriate venues to compete in.
“I think that part of being a top rider is also being a top manager of the horses that you have,” Farrington noted. “As he gets older, I try to pick the venues where I think he can shine and give him rests where I do not think he is as competitive. I gave him a big break. I hardly ever show him in Florida, and I usually gear him up here and then take him to Europe the rest of the summer.”
Speaking of the success that Uceko has had at Spruce Meadows and why the horse excels in this particular venue, Farrington explained, “The jumps are very big here and really impressive, and that suits the horse because he can get a little casual. He is not a naturally fast horse actually; he is a bit slow, so a big field makes him competitive because I can use the length of his stride and turn really short to make him fast out here.”
“He has learned to be very fast,” Farrington continued. “Over the years he has learned to turn shorter to the fences and watch for them. With his experience, he knows when I open him up on the field that the jumps are going to come up fast, so he starts anticipating the fences and he starts looking for them himself, which over time has made him super competitive.”
Deslauriers Leads Pepsi Challenge
A total of 76 entries jumped the first round of the $34,000 Pepsi Challenge 1.45m on Friday, with 19 qualifying for the jump-off and 17 continuing on. The short course saw only five double clear rounds in a very fast race against the clock that put Mario Deslauriers (USA) in the winner’s circle.
Eduardo Menezes (BRA) set the challenging pace in 43.53 seconds aboard his mare, Catalina, and held the top spot through most of the jump-off. It was Deslauriers, however, who stole the lead for his first win in the International Ring since 2012. He completed the fastest clear round in a time of 42.35 seconds riding Lisa Deslauriers’ Scout de la Cense. Nicola Philippaerts placed third in 44.66 seconds with Ludo Philippaerts’ H&M Harley vd Bisschop.
Originally from Quebec, Deslauriers switched to U.S. citizenship six years ago. Regardless of nationality, a win at Spruce Meadows was still very special to the rider.
“This place has come such a long way; it is amazing. I came here when I was 14 the first time,” he noted. “It is always a good feeling (to win here). We have had several young horses the last few years while trying to rebuild our team. We skipped Spruce the last two years and now I am here with my daughter that is 15 and also showed in this competition today. My wife is also here riding. It is fun to be here with the whole family.”
During the ‘National’ Tournament’s Omega Alpha Cup in June, it was Menezes who won and Deslauriers who finished second in a two-horse jump-off in the All Canada Ring with Catalina and Scout de la Cense, but this time Deslauriers made sure he was faster.
“It was the same horses, but Eduardo beat me by four seconds!” Deslauriers detailed. “I said, ‘Where did you go?’ I thought I went pretty fast, but the All Canada Ring is a bit of a slope. This field is flatter and I really went today. The other day in All Canada I went, but not like this. Today, I really went for it.”
“It was a good track for me,” Deslauriers explained. “My horse is 17.2 hands and he has a very big step, so I knew I could do all the strides. If I got the turn right at the wall, I knew there were seven strides there for me and also seven strides to the last jump. Everybody else was doing eight and eight, and they were all slipping around the wall, but mine did not slip. I got a great turn and he did the job today. I knew I hit every fence right. I was really pushing everywhere. I knew I did not leave too much out there.”
Nine-year-old Scout de la Cense is a Selle Francais gelding by Easy Boy x Crazyhorse of Coco. He is one of several promising young horses that Deslauriers is developing, and the rider was happy to get a big win with the horse, especially at Spruce Meadows.
“It is one of the only places in the world that you come for a summer tour and it is really exciting when you come in the ring, even if there are not that many people,” he stated. “It is a great place to show. I have won here when there were 50,000 people, and you still have that in the back of your mind. It is always good. For show jumping, it is one of the best places in the world.”
The ‘North American’ Tournament continues on Saturday featuring the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup as well as the $85,000 TD Cup.