The Canadian show jumping team comprised of Yann Candele, Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar dominated a starting field of 12 countries to win the $75,000 Furusiyya Nations’ Cup, presented by G &C Farm, held Friday night, February 28, at the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.
Canada finished the two-round competition with a total of eight faults, followed by Great Britain in second with nine faults and the United States in third with 12 faults. The win marked the sixth victory for Canada since the inception of the Nations’ Cup in Wellington in 2002.
Canada led the way at the half-way mark, having posted a perfect score of zero faults thanks to clear rounds from reigning four-time Canadian Champion Candele riding Showgirl, ten-time Olympian Millar riding Dixson, and 2008 Olympic Champion Lamaze aboard Powerplay.
The top eight countries returned for a second round of competition over the track set by 2008 Olympic co-course designer Steve Stephens. Canada pulled away from the pack when lead-off rider Candele posted a second clear round with Showgirl, a 14-year-old selle francais mare owned by Watermark Group. Purchased last fall by a group of owners committed to the success of the Canadian show jumping team, the pair is quickly proving itself to be deserving of their support.
“We were in Barcelona at the (Furusiyya Nations’ Cup) Final last year and Eric was thinking already about the World Equestrian Games coming up and he looked at Showgirl and approached the owner about acquiring the mare for me,” explained Candele, 42, of Caledon, ON. “Eric is not selfish and he is all about the team. He put a group together of Canadian and American owners to be able to have that mare compete for Canada now under me.”
Candele continued, “All the success of today is about Eric and his team spirit, and Ian and Tiffany were as solid as can be. That is the end results that we have today, and we are going to try to keep going for bigger events.”
Tiffany Foster, 29, of Vancouver, BC, returned to the International Arena for the second round with Victor, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Torrey Pines Stable and Artisan Farms LLC. A rail down at the first element of the double combination at fence nine left the pair with four faults, the same score they had delivered in the opening round of competition.
“I’m really excited about my performance tonight, as usual!” exclaimed the effervescent Foster. “I thought my horse jumped really well. In the first round he was a bit unsettled, and got a little bit rushed in a couple of places, but came back really well in the second round, and I was very happy with him.”
Millar, 67, of Perth, ON, added only four faults to the bottom line for Canada when the plank at fence 7b fell. He was aboard Dixson, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Susan and Ariel Grange that he has been riding for approximately one year.
“Dixson is coming along extremely well,” noted Millar, who has his sights firmly set on the next cycle of World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games. “I’m very pleased with him tonight; his progress is great and we just need to get better and better. He’s the right age, and he has his whole future in front of him. I’m very proud to have him.”
Having produced a fault-free effort in the first round riding Powerplay, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Artisan Farms LLC, such was Canada’s strength that Lamaze did not have to return for the second round. A score of eight faults had already won the title for Canada, and Lamaze could not have been prouder of his teammates.
“For us, it’s a fantastic evening,” said Lamaze, 45, of Schomberg, ON. “I’ve had the pleasure to ride with many great riders on this Canadian team, but none more than Ian has taught me the importance of riding for your nation. We take it very seriously, and we all pull together.”
Canadian show jumping team chef d’equipe Mark Laskin was equally as pleased with his team’s performance, saying, “We have a great group. Somehow, they always seem to get the job done. I also want to welcome Yann Candele back to our team. We are very happy to have him, especially tonight. We have four fantastic riders with four fantastic horses.”
The $75,000 Furusiyya Nations’ Cup, presented by G &C Farm, in Wellington, FL, is one of three Nations’ Cup events held in North America. Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB, hosts the other two, one in June and the other during its marquee “Masters” tournament in September.