Mario Deslauriers of New York, NY, Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, BC, Jonathon Millar of Perth, ON, and Keean White of Rockwood, ON, formed the Canadian Show Jumping Team that finished runner-up in the $400,000 Longines FEI Nations’ Cup held Sunday, June 3, at CSIO 5* Langley, BC.
Ireland claimed victory for the second year in a row with a total of 12 faults while Canada finished second with 18 faults. Mexico, who had claimed the inaugural Nations’ Cup at Langley in 2016, finished third with 25 faults to stay ahead of the United States with an uncharacteristic total of 34 faults, despite the last-minute substitution of number two rider in the world, Kent Farrington aboard Uceko. Without the luxury of a drop score, the three-man team from Brazil racked up 40 faults for a fifth-placed finish.
As Canada’s lead-off rider, Foster, 33, had the support of the home crowd behind her as she guided Victor, a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) owned by Torrey Pines Stable and Artisan Farms LLC, to a clear round.
“I’ve gone first a lot and with Victor, I know him so well that I can walk the course and know my plan, and he’s always fast,” said Foster of being the pathfinder for Canada. “I didn’t want to sit around waiting, I just wanted to go out there and do it!”
Foster’s clear would prove crucial to a strong team result after White was eliminated for two refusals at fence six, an oxer with an unusual turf-trimmed water tray underneath. That meant his would be the drop score, putting pressure on Millar and Deslauriers to deliver.
Millar, 43, left two rails on the floor at fences six and 11 riding Daveau, a 10-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zento x Glennridge) owned by Millar Brooke Farm. In only his second Nations’ Cup appearance since switching back to Canadian nationality in 2017, Deslauriers, hailing from Bromont, QC, had a rail at the first element of the double combination at fence seven and also picked up one time fault for exceeding the tight time allowed. Deslauriers was not alone in incurring time faults; in the opening round, 15 of the 19 athletes competing failed to complete the track set by Canadian course designer Peter Holmes of Cowichan Bay, BC, in 75 seconds or less. Foster had the closest call of all, stopping the timers in exactly 75 seconds to narrowly avoid falling victim to the clock.
In the second round, Foster and Victor made the challenging track look deceptively easy, jumping to another clear round with time to spare. Ireland’s Richie Moloney also delivered two clear rounds for his nation riding Carrabis Z. Remarkably, Moloney and Foster had been the first two riders on course and, with the day’s only two double-clear performances, split a bonus of $80,000 on offer to the top-performing individual athletes.
“In the second round, I was a little more settled and knew how the lines were going to ride,” said Foster. “When you know a horse as well as I know Victor, it is great to come back for a second time because you are always able to improve your ride. He is a horse that Artisan Farms bought nine years ago as a seven-year-old and he has delivered every time that we have asked him to. As he is 16 now, we don’t use him more than we have to, but every time we do he comes out and delivers. He was awesome!”
Foster’s spirits were also buoyed by competing in front of a home crowd.
“I always love coming here; I feel so much support,” said Foster, who grew up riding with, and eventually working for, Laura and Brent Balisky’s Thunderbird Show Stables. “My whole family is here, my two grandmothers were both here along with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I love that I get to jump in front of them and it’s even better when I do well!”
White, 35, who had been a member of Canada’s victorious team one month earlier at the Nations’ Cup of Coapexpan, Mexico, opted not to return for the second round with For Freedom Z, a 13-year-old bay Zangersheide gelding (For Pleasure x Baloubet du Rouet) owned by Angelstone Partners, automatically giving Canada its drop score.
Millar and Daveau jumped clear in their second attempt but were caught by the clock to add a single time fault to Canada’s score sheet. Clear rounds are well within their grasp, however, as the pair proved in Coapexpan when they jumped double clear to earn the bonus money. Canadian riders have benefitted immensely from the newly-introduced bonus this season, as Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar split €50,000 after leading Canada to victory in the Nations’ Cup of Ocala.
With a wealth of experience to his credit including the 1984 World Cup title, Deslauriers knocked a rail at the opening element of the triple combination set at fence nine, but emerged otherwise unscathed with the promising Bardolina 2, a nine-year-old bay Holsteiner mare (Clarimo x Landos) owned by Wishing Well Farm LLC. Deslauriers had the unique experience of watching his 18-year-old daughter, Lucy Deslauriers, become the United States’ top performer in her Nations’ Cup debut, delivering scores of one and four riding Hester.
With an Irish victory already confirmed, anchor rider Conor Swail riding Rubens LS La Silla did not return for the second round. Ireland finished on 10 faults with Canada easily sliding into second with 18 faults.
The Nations’ Cup in Langley, BC, acted as the third and final qualifying event in the North and Central America and Caribbean League for the Longines FEI Nations’ Cup Final to be held in Barcelona, Spain, from October 4 to 7, 2018. Having won the $450,000 USD Longines FEI Nations’ Cup at CSIO 5* Ocala, FL, in February, and the $5,690,000 MXN Longines FEI Nations’ Cup held Sunday, April 22, at CSIO 5* Coapexpan, Mexico, Canada confirmed its invitation to the Final by finishing the league with a total of 290 points. As the top two teams at the end of qualifying competition are invited to Barcelona, the U.S. also booked its ticket with 235 points over Mexico’s 215.
“The stars of the day for us were definitely Tiffany Foster and Victor with a fantastic double clear,” said chef d’equipe Mark Laskin of Langley, BC. “The other big positive is that we now know for sure we’re going to the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona which was the end goal all along.
“At the end of the day we were pretty happy with our second-place finish,” continued Laskin, who was supported at CSIO 5* Langley by Equestrian Canada’s Manager of Jumping, Karen Hendry-Ouellette. “It didn’t seem to be in the cards for us as we had a few things go awry in the first round that really put us behind the eight ball. We had a great recovery in the second round but the Irish were ahead and on form and we just couldn’t catch them.”
In the 2017 Longines FEI Nations’ Cup Final, Canada won the first day of competition by being the only country to jump clear among the 15 qualified countries. After the second and final round, Canada settled for an eighth place finish overall.
For full results from CSIO 5* Langley, click here.