The Canadian Dressage Team earned the silver medal for the second consecutive year in the CDIO 3* FEI Nations Cup presented by Stillpoint Farm, held March 13-14, 2019, during the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) 10 in Wellington, FL.
The annual Nations Cup provides Canadian dressage athletes with the rare opportunity to compete as a team. As per the AGDF Nations Cup rules, teams consist of three or four riders, and can contain a mix of big and small tour horse-rider combinations, with a bonus of 1.5% added to big tour scores.
The Canadian Dressage Team was represented by Jill Irving of Moncton, NB, Tina Irwin of Stouffville, ON, Lindsay Kellock, who currently resides in Wellington, FL, and Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON.
Leading the team to the podium was Irwin and her long-time partner, Laurencio (Laurentio x Donnerhall), a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding she owns with her husband and fellow Grand Prix athlete, Jaimey Irwin. No strangers to small tour success, having achieved a world record score in 2017, the duo contributed back-to-back wins to Canada’s score in the Nations Cup. They started strong after earning a personal best score of 74.912% on day one in the CDIO 3* Prix St. Georges, then followed up with 73.588% in the Intermediate I during an evening performance under the lights on March 14.
The accomplishment was made even more impressive considering Irwin had recently taken a break from competition since AGDF 5 due to injury, passing the reins to Jaimey in the interim.
“Laurencio felt amazing the last two days, and to achieve a personal best in the Prix St. Georges to help the team is a great feeling,” said Irwin, who is no stranger to nations cup competition, having helped Canada win gold in 2017. “I am always honoured to represent our country, especially in a team event; it is very special.”
Irwin continued, “Riding on a team brings a unique aspect to our sport, as we normally compete on an individual basis. My approach when riding on a team is exactly the same as when I’m riding as an individual, but there is definitely added pressure knowing that your score is affecting the end result, which includes your teammates. I think it is an amazing opportunity to compete on a nations cup team in Wellington, as a dress rehearsal for the Pan American Games. It gives the riders much more experience riding on a team, and it’s important to learn how to deal with the added pressure.”
Kellock wasn’t far behind Irwin on the small tour leaderboard, which made for an exciting nations cup debut for the 28-year-old rising star. Paired with Floratina (Fidertanz x Rubin-Royal), Chloe Gasiorowski’s 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, she kicked things off with a score of 71.824% for third place in the CDIO 3* Prix St. Georges, then moved up to second in the Prix St. Georges on 71.500%.
Irving, who made her major games debut at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, was Canada’s sole representative in the big tour with Arthur (Jazz x Contango), Windhaven Farm’s 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Their strong performances resulted in third place finishes in both the CDIO 3* Grand Prix on March 13 and Grand Prix Special on March 14. With the big tour bonus added, they enjoyed scores of 68.457% on day one, and 70.404% for their Grand Prix Special.
Canadian veteran, Trussell rounded out the team, competing in the small tour with her up-and-coming partner, Carlucci (Contendro I x Compliment), a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Barbara Holden Sinclair. Their scores of 68.176% in the Prix St. Georges and 68.176% in the Intermediate I earned them fifth and sixth place, respectively.
At the close of the two-day competition, Canada earned their silver medal on a combined team score of 433.685 – not far off the United States, who took gold with 437.693. Bronze went to Germany on 402.724, while Colombia finished just off the podium in fourth (389.647).
“Our team of both seasoned athletes and rising stars provided a glimpse into the strength in the Canadian dressage ranks as we head towards the Pan American Games,” said Christine Peters, Equestrian Canada’s Senior Manager Dressage, Olympic/Paralympic Program, who also took on the role of Chef d’Équipe for the Canadian Dressage Team in Wellington. “Each performance in the Nations Cup this week was inspiring. I personally cannot wait to see these combinations reach their full potential.”
With the team medals now decided, athletes will move forward to challenge the freestyles for individual honours on March 15.
For more information on the Nations Cup, and full results, visit gdf.coth.com.