The Canadian Show Jumping Team comprised of Ben Asselin, Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar clinched victory in the $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup held Saturday, September 13, at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament in Calgary, AB.
The win marked the second victory for Canada in the event’s history, having previously won in 2006. The BMO Nations’ Cup has been held at Spruce Meadows since 1977.
Calgary’s own Ben Asselin posted double clear rounds in his $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup debut to lead Canada to victory riding Makavoy, an 11-year-old chestnut Dutch Warmblood gelding (Hors la Loi II x Ahorn) owned by Attaché Stables.
“It’s an incredible feeling!” said Asselin, 20. “I’ve dreamed of riding with these guys for my whole life, and to ride on a team with them, especially in my hometown at the ‘Masters’, is just the icing on the cake.
“What an incredible horse, and what an incredible day,” continued Asselin, who is the grandson of Spruce Meadows Co-Chairs Marg and Ron Southern. “It couldn’t have gone any better.”
Canada was leading at the half-way stage, counting only one fault after Foster narrowly exceeded the tight time allowed of 78 seconds riding Tripple X III, a 12-year-old dark bay Anglo European stallion (Namelus R x Cantango) purchased by Artisan Farms LLC in June.
“We all wanted to do really well here, we really wanted to try to deliver,” said Foster, 30, of Vancouver, BC, who was making her fourth consecutive BMO Nations’ Cup appearance. “It is really amazing to ride for Canada here; it is an experience like no other. The crowd here is so awesome and they are so behind us. I am extremely proud of the team, and really proud of Ben.”
Coming back for the second round, Canada kept the pressure on when Millar added only four faults to his perfect score in the first round. Millar, 67, of Perth, ON, was aboard Dixson, an 11-year-old bay Belgian Warmblood gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Olisco) owned by Susan and Ariel Grange.
When Asselin produced his second clear round of the day and Foster kept her second round total to four faults, Canada had clinched the victory without anchor rider Lamaze having to return with Zigali P S, a 10-year-old dark bay Dutch Warmblood gelding (Kigali x STB-H Palfrenier) owned by Artisan Farms LLC. With a two round total of nine faults, Canada could not be beat.
“What a great team!” exclaimed Lamaze, 45, of Schomberg, ON. “Ian really got the day underway for us with a clear round, Tiffany with a time fault, and Ben Asselin, a newcomer to our team – what a great start! I was kind of looking forward to going in the second round but if you don’t have to go, you don’t have to go. That’s how strong this team is, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. For me, it’s very special to win here.”
The United States moved up to finish second with a final score of 13 faults while Belgium took third place with 21 faults. Riding Simon, 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games team and individual bronze medalist Beezie Madden of the United States was the only other rider to post double clear scores.
For Canadian Show Jumping Team chef d’equipe Mark Laskin, who took over the role from Terrance Millar following the 2012 London Olympics, Canada’s victory was well-deserved.
“I always expect to win, so it’s not surprising,” said Laskin as he accepted Canada’s portion of $115,000 in prize money. “We have a great team and great horses and when you put the two of them together, you get this kind of success.”
The Canadian Show Jumping Team is led by Team Manager Karen Hendry-Ouellette and chef d’equipe Mark Laskin.