The Canadian Show Jumping Team comprised of Lisa Carlsen of Okotoks, AB; Rachel Cornacchia of Foothills, AB; Jim Ifko of Calgary, AB; and Nicole Walker of Aurora, AB, placed third in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Mexico held Sunday, May 5, at the CSIO5* Coapexpan in Mexico.
The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Mexico acted as the second of three qualifying events in the North America, Central America, and Caribbean League for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final to be held in Barcelona, Spain, from October 3 to 6. Canada, the United States and the Mexican hosts were the only three countries to put forward teams, making for a quick yet exciting two-round competition.
Carlsen, 54, who rode in last year’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, was the pathfinder for Canada riding Parette, her 13-year-old bay Brandenburg mare (Passoa VDL x Barinello). The pair knocked down the back rail of the oxer set at fence nine for four faults and posted a time of 72.26 seconds to add one time fault to Canada’s score sheet.
Ifko celebrated his 50th birthday by making his nations cup debut. Riding Un Diamant des Forets, an 11-year-old bay Selle Francais stallion (Diamant de Semilly x Papillon Rouge) for owner Eventyre Farms Ltd., Ifko mirrored Carlsen’s result, bringing down a rail at fence nine and posting one time fault for a total of five faults.
Like her coach, Ifko, Cornacchia was also making her first appearance on the Canadian Show Jumping Team. Riding Valkyrie de Talma, a 10-year-old grey Selle Francais mare (Diamant de Semilly x Cento) owned by her Eventyre Farms Ltd., Cornacchia, 29, landed in the open water before dropping a rail at the pair of verticals that immediately followed at fence eight.
Picking up a time fault as well, Cornacchia’s nine faults would become the drop score when Walker, 25, posted the Canadian Team’s best score, four faults, riding Falco van Spieveld, her 14-year-old bay Belgian Warmblood gelding (Toulon x Lys de Darmen).
At the end of the first round, Canada had a total of 14 faults while Mexico and the United States shared the top of the leaderboard with nine faults apiece. The chance of bonus money being awarded for a double-clear effort quickly vanished when there were no clear performances in the opening round. Half of the 12 starters exceeded the time allowed of 72 seconds set by Brazilian Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge including Richard Spooner of the United States and Lorenza O’Farrill of Mexico who left all the rails in place only to have their hopes dashed by the clock.
The first rider back in the ring for round two was Carlsen who proved that a clear round was indeed possible. The Canadian Olympian and her veteran partner delivered an important clear to put Canada back in the game.
Canadian hopes waned, however, as Ifko and Cornacchia each delivered scores of eight faults the second time out. They both picked up four faults at the open water before having a rail at the double combination that followed.
In the second nations cup of their young career, reigning Canadian Show Jumping Champions Walker and Falco van Spieveld were calm, cool, and collected to put a clear round on the scoreboard for Canada, coming home well under the time allowed.
It was a case of too little, too late, as Canada fell out of the final reckoning as the United States and Mexico wrestled for the win. Clear rounds from Mexico’s Patricio Pasquel riding Babel and O’Farrill aboard Queens Darling put the pressure on the Americans. When U.S. anchor rider Alex Granato racked up 12 faults with Carlchen W, victory was handed to Mexico on a silver platter; its final rider, Salvador Onate, didn’t even have to jump with Big Red.
The final standings saw Mexico win its second straight Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ title with a final score of 13 faults while the United States was second with 15 faults. Canada placed third with 22 faults.
Having also claimed victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America at the Palm Beach Masters in Wellington, FL, in February, Mexico dominates the North America, Central America and Caribbean League with a total of 200 points. The United States has 170 points while Canada trails with 140 points. As only the top two countries in the league are invited to the final in Barcelona, Canada has its work cut out for it heading into the third and final qualifying event, the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Canada, to be held from May 29 to June 2 at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC.
“Things are going to be very interesting when we come back to Tbird for the last regional qualifier for the Longines Nations Cup Final,” said Canadian Show Jumping Team chef d’equipe Mark Laskin, who was supported in Mexico by Equestrian Canada Manager of Jumping, Karen Hendry-Ouellette. “Not only will we have home court advantage but we’ll have our two best riders, Mario Deslauriers and Eric Lamaze, leading the charge. The Americans are still catchable and that certainly will be our goal!”