We did it! Canada kept it together when others failed. Team spirit and a collective effort pulled her back from the brink and raised her the only two rungs she needed to climb today. As I wrote yesterday, 12 is just a number two places away from 10.
It was a crazy day at the races, folks. One needed a bank of calculators to keep track of who was where in the rankings. Even our own people feared the worst when Eric crossed the finish line with eight rotten, good-for-nothing penalties. Surely he was our last hope. Turns out Colombia and Israel were having a less favourable day than we were. Turns out the miniscule edge we held overnight on Belgium stood like the Great Wall keeping them out and keeping us in.
I tip my hat to young Kara Chad, who built that wall with her five-penalty effort on the 11-year-old Carona. One point more and Belgium would have scuppered the red and white ship and all who sailed with her. The smart, articulate young lady may be a relative newcomer, but as she told me yesterday, if she could keep a lid on the nerves she had 100% faith in her horse’s ability. “I’m supported from all ends, but for me I think it is just mentally staying in it and keeping focused and not getting too overwhelmed by the whole thing.”
I thought it was interesting that Eric thought the 90+ degrees we seem to be hitting daily (so hot my mascara melts) was affecting Chacco Kid today, yet yesterday, Steve Guerdat said he thought his horse benefitted from it. “With a better climate I think you might have seen more clear rounds today,” noted Eric, who questioned the logic of holding the second round in the middle of the day when it’s hottest. “I think a lot of horses are empty from the heat. I know mine was today.”
What a difference a day makes, eh? Or even .27 of a penalty point . *
*the spread that decided who between Canada and Belgium would reach the second round.
Rowan Willis is the Australian dude who gave everyone a shock on day one by finishing in the top three. It wasn’t a question of his worthiness, it was just, well, he seemed have landed from Mars. Anyone who spent any time in Florida or at Spruce Meadows this year may know the name.
The UK-based Aussie prepared for WEG in North America, arriving in February with three horses. They took in Wellington and Ocala before heading to Calgary for the Spruce Meadows summer series via Lexington and Tryon. Somehow the pair managed to fly under the radar of the international equestrian press corps despite winning the $265,000 Ocala 5* Grand Prix last spring. Rowan seemed rather put out that no one had noticed that they had also finished 11th in the Spruce Meadows Masters the week before WEG.
Rowan left his native land when he was 19 and headed to southern England where he worked for the next 14 years for Fred and Sue Welch as their stable jockey. Both the Welchs were international show jumpers and when they retired they turned to breeding and producing young show jumpers, one of which was a mare called Showtime. Nick Skelton took her all the way to the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
When the Welchs retired her from the sport, they put the mare to a few stallions and Blue Movie is the product of her coupling with Chacco Blue. Rowan, along with his parents and sister and a few friends from his home town Armidale, bought the chestnut mare when she was a five-year-old. Rowan had had his eye on her since she was foaled.
According to Rowan’s sister Renée there is talk of breeding Blue Movie to Nick Skelton’s Big Star. All potential names considered. I pick Stormy Daniels.
What a little gem the Germans have in the delightful Laura Klaphake. Born into the family business at Muhlen where her father Joseph has managed Paul Schockemohle’s competition and sales yard for over two decades, the 22-year-old says show jumping is “just my hobby.” A passion, but not an occupation, at least for now. She is a full-time student whose time is limited so she job shares with mum Gaby to keep her string of five to eight horses going smoothly for the stables.
Laura graduated with a degree in international management and marketing, but is currently pursuing a masters in real estate management. She has one more year to study before she has to make a decision. “I would love to find a way in between the one or the other because riding is my passion and I want to keep it that way. I don’t want to wake up every morning and think I have to go and earn money with the horses. Sometimes I’m not very motivated to study, but I do it and then I go to the stable and that’s my gift, my reward for studying.”
According to the German magazine BILD, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, father of budding jumper Jennifer Gates and one of the richest men in the world, offered Paul Schockemohle 8 million dollars for Laura’s mount Catch Me If You Can, but Paul turned it down. The mare was not for sale then, but I bet she is now!
Happy Hour With Mark
Into my inbox last night appeared an invitation to happy hour with TIEC Ceo Mark Bellissimo. About time, too ‒ not for the free drinks, but for the man with the master plan to face the music.
I have a pretty good idea what he will say. Here’s a preview: they lost two months of construction out of five due to weather. There was a labour shortage due to a “white hot” employment market; contractors failed to deliver (really? no way! A contractor not showing up or finishing on time?) on time and materials or started making obscene mark ups at the 11th hour. What he won’t admit to is a bull-headed reluctance on his part to curb his ambitious plans for the future of the TIEC and just concentrate on what needed to be done in time for the World Equestrian Games. Nice-to-haves are exactly that – not necessities!