Team Canada came out on top in a tough 12-way battle for the honors at the second leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2014 series at Wellington in Florida on Friday night.
Taking command with the only zero score at the end of the first round, the Canadians fended off a strong challenge from the British to claim the top step of the podium by a single fault. The host nation, USA, slotted into third, while Brazil and Ireland shared fourth place ahead of Venezuela in sixth, Columbia in seventh and Germany in eighth spot.
Just eight of the 12 competing countries qualified for the second round, and Mexico, New Zealand and Chile all missed the cut while the Israeli side was eliminated in round one. All bar Mexico had only three members.
With many of the most experienced riders partnering relatively inexperienced horses the course set by the USA’s Steve Stephens proved testing enough. However the USA and Canada sent out their big guns and it was the latter who proved the strongest on the night. Just three riders managed to jumping double-clear over the course; Canada’s Yann Candele with Showgirl, Britain’s Tim Gredley with Unex Chamberlain Z and Brazilian pathfinder Alvaro de Miranda riding AD Uutje.
Canadian Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin, was delighted with the result, and picked Candele out for special mention. “I want to welcome Yann back to our team, I’m really happy to have him, especially tonight. I think that’s a key for Canada right now. We have four fantastic riders with four fantastic horses, and they did an incredible job!” Laskin said.
As round two began, it was the USA who were lying second carrying just four faults while the British were only a single point further adrift carrying five. The Brazilians and Irish were tied on nine faults at this stage, and they would remain locked together when each added a further eight faults to their tallies.
Ben Maher led the British into the second round with another four-fault run with Diva, but Gredley’s back-to-back clear bolstered his team’s chances only for third-line rider, Gemma Paternoster who had collected just a single time penalty first time out with Osiris, to collect nine faults at her second attempt. A brilliant anchorman clear from World No 1 Scott Brash and Hello Annie steadied the British ship, ensuring they would add only Maher’s four to leave them on a final total of nine faults.
A surprising double-error from McLain Ward and Rothchild, at the bicycle vertical and the final oxer, put pressure on the USA. But despite four, at the first element of the influential double at nine, for Brianne Goutal and Nice de Pressey, it seemed hope was not lost if Laura Kraut and Beezie Madden could leave the course intact. Kraut’s fabulous little grey, Cedric, had been foot-perfect first time around and seemed a banker for a second clear, but when he put a toe in the water at his second attempt, then not even Madden’s superb run with Simon could rectify the situation. Because by then the Canadians already had it in the bag.
Candele and Showgirl led their side into round two with another copybook clear, so despite a mistake from Tiffany Foster and Victor at the second element of the double at nine and for the legendary Ian Millar and Dixson who had been spectacularly clear first time out but who fell foul of the planks at the second element of the double at seven this time, it was all done and dusted. Canada’s total of eight faults would be good enough to clinch it, and anchorman, Eric Lamaze, didn’t need to bring Powerplay back to the arena for a second time.
The evergreen 67-year-old Ian Millar continues to mesmerise with his stunning performances at the top of the game. He showed all of his trademark skill as he steered Dixson into the winner’s enclosure. Talking about the horse he said, “I’ve had him for a year and he’s coming along extremely well, and I’m looking to include him in the next cycle for the World Equestrian Games, Pan Ams and Olympics. so its a very long term plan for him. I was very pleased with him today, his progress is great, he just gets better and better! He’s the right age, he’s a young horse and he has his whole life and his whole future ahead of him! And I’m very very proud to have him,” said the man long-known as Captain Canada.
Showgirl joined Candele’s string after the 2013 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final in Barcelona (ESP) last year. She was previously owned by Jonathan Asselin. “We were in Barcelona for the Final last year, and Eric (Lamaze) was thinking already about WEG,” Candele said.
“And he put a group together of Canadian and American owners to be able to have that mare compete for Canada under me,” said the French born rider who has ridden for Canada for about six years.
Ireland’s team manager Robert Splaine said the team’s equal fourth place with 17 faults was encouraging, with some new partnerships making their debut in a Nations’ Cup. “Once again, we owe a huge debt to the owners. We need top horses and without owners we cannot fulfil our ambitions, and it was pleasing to see a new one being involved last night.”
The competition was the first qualifier in the North America, Central America and Caribbean League. Next stop for riders in this league on the road to Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2014 Final will be Coapexpan in Mexico which follows one week after the opening round of the Europe Division 1 League at Lummen, Belgium on Friday 2 May.
1. Canada 8 faults: Showgirl (Yann Candele) 0/0, Victor (Tiffany Foster) 4/4, Dixson (Ian Millar) 0/4, Powerplay (Eric Lamaze) 0/DNS.
2. Great Britain 9 faults: Diva (Ben Maher) 4/4, Unex Chamberlain Z (Tim Gredley) 0/0, Osiris (Gemma Paternoster) 1/9, Hello Annie (Scott Brash) 9/0.
3. USA 12 faults: Rothchild (McLain Ward) 0/8, Nice de Prissey (Brianne Goutal) 4/4, Cedric (Laura Kraut) 0/4, Simon (Beezie Madden) 4/0.
4. Ireland 17 faults: Eregas van’t Kieselhoft (Shane Sweetnam) 4/4, Carrabis Z (Richie Moloney) 8/0, Lilli (Paul O’Shea) 5/4, Quidam’s Cherie (Cian O’Connor) 0/8.
4. Brazil 17 faults: AD Uutje (Alvaro de Miranda) 0/0, First Division (Yuri Mansur) 5/4, Quintol (Eduardo Menezes) 4/4, Status (Rodrigo Pessoa) 5/4.
6. Venezuela 24 faults: Caballito (Andres Rodriguez) 8/0, G&C Quitador Rochelais (Gustavo Arroyo) 4/4, G&C Flash (Luis Larrazabal) 16/8, Zara Leandra (Pablo Barrios) 0/Ret.
7. Columbia 31 faults: Woklahoma (Roberto Teran) 0/5, Zipo CG (Manuel Espinosa) 10/8, Lagran (Mark Bluman) 12/Ret, Sancha LS (Daniel Bluman) 8/0.
8. Germany 39 faults: Conthendrix (Andre Thieme) 9/17, Mic Mac du Tillard (David Will) 0/4, Quintana Roo (Johannes Ehning) 18/5, Evita dan de Veldbalie (Daniel Deusser) 4/Ret.
9. Mexico 21 faults IN FIRST ROUND: Colasko (Nicolas Pizarro) 8, Jumex Sport Archimedes (Sofia Larrea) 1, Vicky Van Het Geinsteinde (Luis Alejandro Plascencia) 25, Chepepe La Escondida (Fernando Martinez) 12.
10. New Zealand 34 faults IN FIRST ROUND: Watch Me (Grant Wilson) 18, Que Pasa Z (Kirk Webby) 16, Derly Chin de Muze (Sharn Wordley) 0.
11. Chile 49 faults IN FIRST ROUND: William Wallace (Samuel Parot) 12, Player de Brocelia (Carlos Milthaler) 17, Carla TM (Jorge Matte) 20.
12. Israel Eliminated IN FIRST ROUND: Carisma (Danielle Goldstein) 1, Zamillus Again (Elad Yaniv) Elim, Quito 36 (Joshua Taylor) 20.