The Canadian Show Jumping Team, comprised of Yann Candele, Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze, and Chris Pratt, finished eighth in the €1,250,000 Longines FEI Nations’ Cup Final held Saturday night, September 30, in Barcelona, Spain.
With the top eight countries moving forward to Saturday night’s Final following the opening round of competition on Thursday, the stage was set for a dramatic climax. The tension mounted further when technical issues with a stadium flood light caused an almost two-hour delay. When competition did get underway just before 11 p.m. local time, Canada had the advantage of going last in the order by way of its win in Thursday’s opening round. Having topped a starting field of 15 nations after posting three clear rounds on Thursday, Canada had every reason to be optimistic coming into the Final. With all countries starting on a clean slate, there was no margin for error.
Making their competition debut in the Longines FEI Nations’ Cup Final, the new pairing of Candele, 46, of Caledon, ON, and Theodore Manciais, a ten-year-old selle francais gelding (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Power Light) owned by Ashland Farms and Torrey Pines Stable, had jumped clear for Canada on Thursday. The pair could not maintain its perfect form over the challenging track set by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela however, with a foot in the water followed by a fence down at number ten adding up to eight faults before an additional time fault was assessed for stopping the clock in 81.20 seconds, just over the snug time allowed of 81 seconds.
Foster, 33, of North Vancouver, BC, had a strong start to her day, jumping double clear to place third in the €63,000 1.50m Queen’s Cup for the Segura Viudas Trophy riding Brighton. With Tripple X III, her Rio Olympic partner, Foster was looking solid until the final line when the back rail of the ‘a’ element came down in the triple combination. Having jumped clear on Thursday, Foster would add four faults to Canada’s score card with the 15-year-old Anglo European stallion (Namelus R x Cantango) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable.
Pratt, 48, had the weight of a nation riding on his shoulders as he entered the ring with Concorde, the promising ten-year-old chestnut Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vaillant x Concorde) owned by The Epic Group LLC. A clear round would keep Canada in the game but, when two rails fell to the floor and a time fault was added to the final tally, any hope for victory was quickly extinguished.
A Dutch win had already been decided before Lamaze, 49, tackled the course as the final rider of the competition. While he could not improve his country’s placing, there were still €150,000 reasons for Lamaze to repeat his faultless performance from Thursday as a bonus was on offer to all riders who could manage the feat. Once again, the 2008 Olympic Champion withstood the pressure, delivering a second clear round with Coco Bongo, a 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding (Caretino x Calido) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and his own Torrey Pines Stable.
Six riders in total jumped double clear – Jur Vrieling and Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands, Lauren Hough and McLain Ward of the United States, Belgian anchor Gregory Wathelet, and Lamaze – to earn a bonus of €25,000 each.
With two clear rounds to its credit and counting one time fault from Michel Hendrix, the Dutch, who had also won in 2014, claimed victory with a total of one fault. The United States was the fastest team with four faults to finish runner-up while Belgium was third. Switzerland was fourth followed by Sweden, while Germany placed sixth with nine faults. Like Canada, the reigning Olympic Champions from France also finished with a total of 13 faults, but faster combined times put them ahead of the Canadians in the final standings.
“We were in competition with seven of the elite teams in the world, and everyone was firing on all cylinders,” said Canadian Show Jumping Team chef d’equipe Mark Laskin of Langley, BC. “We needed one more good score to put us in the mix but we didn’t get it.
“The positives garnered were the experience gained by two of our horse-rider combinations, the great overall performance of Tiffany and Tripple X, and the stellar double clean produced by Eric and Coco Bongo,” concluded Laskin, whose team won €66,000 for its eighth-place finish.
All four members of the Canadian Team qualified for the €153,700 Longines Cup of the City of Barcelona. Set to begin at 3 p.m. local time on Sunday, October 1, the grand finale of CSIO5* Barcelona will be aired on FEI TV. For more information, including full results, click here.