The Canadian Show Jumping Team finished eighth at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Team Final held September 4 in Caen, France.
Yann Candele, 43, of Caledon, ON, Tiffany Foster, 30, of Vancouver, BC, defending Individual Bronze Medalist Eric Lamaze, 45, of Schomberg, ON, and Ian Millar, 67, of Perth, ON, comprised Canada’s team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Canada was ranked sixth coming into the Team Final, which saw the top 10 nations from an original starting field of 35 countries battling it out for world supremacy. Following three consecutive days of competition, Canada finished with a total of 31 points for eighth place. The Netherlands claimed the gold medal with a total score of 12.83, France took the silver with 14.08, and the United States earned the bronze medal with 16.75.
Yann Candele was once again the lead-off rider for Canada, and faulted early on course at fence two, the Land Rover oxer, riding Showgirl, a 14-year-old chestnut selle francais mare (Gold de Becourt x Elf III) owned by The Watermark Group. The pair jumped the remainder of the course in excellent form.
“I was between distances and I had two choices and I made the wrong one,” said Candele candidly about having a rail at fence two. “She did exactly what I asked her to do; it was a rider mistake. She tried her heart out, but that’s just the sport. It’s disappointing.”
Foster was the next Canadian in the order with Verdi III, a 12-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding (Hors La Loi II x Cantus) owned by Artisan Farms LLC. Fatigue caught up to the pair, and with three fences down and a time fault, their 13-fault performance would be Canada’s discard score.
“I thought we started out really well but, by the last line, I think he was just a little tired and kind of gave up a little bit,” said Foster, who is currently ranked the number eight female rider in the world. “It’s definitely hard jumping out there, and it’s a big exertion for the horses to jump like this over three days.”
Of her World Championship debut, Foster noted, “It was a cool experience; they did a good job here. It’s been really fun, and you always have a good time being on Team Canada. Hopefully at the next World Championships in Bromont (Canada), I can be a little bit more helpful.”
After two days of strong performances, Millar and Dixson added eight faults to Canada’s bottom line in the Team Final.
“We ask these horses to do extraordinary things and Dixson has done very well here,” said Millar of the 11-year-old bay Belgian Warmblood gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Olisco) owned by Susan and Ariel Grange of Cheltenham, ON. “Overall, that’s the way it is and we go on to the next week. I remember back in the day with Big Ben – sometimes you would come to a major event and he just wasn’t his best, and then you would go to the next competition and he’s his normal self and you win. That’s horses. There were no great disasters. It’s just the sport.”
Riding in the anchor position, Lamaze had one rail plus one time fault riding Zigali P S, owned by Carlene and Andy Ziegler’s Artisan Farms LLC. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games marked the first time that Lamaze had ridden the 10-year-old dark bay Dutch Warmblood gelding (Kigali x STB-H Palfrenier) in team competition.
“I thought he jumped very well; I was very pleased with how it finished,” said Lamaze of Zigali P S, a horse he began riding at the beginning of the year. “The mistake he had yesterday was lack of experience, nothing else. Today, it was an unlucky rub, but otherwise he jumped a good round, it was solid. I just think his lack of experience caught up to him.”
As for Canada’s performance overall, Lamaze noted, “We were off to a good start, and the team spirit was great. You have to be perfect every day, and we had a few mistakes, mistakes that you can’t have at a championships. It has to line up for everyone, not just one person. Nothing can go wrong, from the horse side of it or from the rider side of it.”
The first three days of competition also counted towards the individual rankings. Candele finished in 22nd position with a score of 8.19 as the top Canadian. Lamaze placed 31st with 10.96 while Millar had a three-day score of 12.91 to finish in 36th position. Foster placed 51st with 11.13 in her world championship debut. A record total of 153 individuals competed at this year’s world championships.
Following a day of rest, the top 30 riders in the individual standings will compete over two rounds on Saturday, September 6. In a format unique to world championship competition, the top four riders in the individual standings will advance to Sunday’s ‘Final Four’. World championship titles do not come easy; in the ultimate test of horsemanship, each rider will complete the course with their own mount before jumping the track with each of their competitor’s horses.
Despite being ranked 22nd, Candele and Showgirl have withdrawn from Saturday’s individual competition. In consultation with Canadian Show Jumping Team chef d’equipe Mark Laskin, it was determined that it would not be in Showgirl’s best interest to continue.
“Due to the mare’s age, between Yann, myself, and Mark, we made the decision that it was too much to put her through,” explained Lamaze, who is one of Showgirl’s owners in The Watermark Group. “If they were in the top 10, we would consider sending her, but being in 22nd and having so many riders in front, it is not possible for them to advance to ‘The Final Four’. There are several other riders who have also made the decision not to go on Saturday for this reason.”
Lamaze continued, “For Yann, it is the only horse that he has, and we need to preserve her for future team competition. Given her age, there are limitations to how much she can do. Yann was here for the team, he is happy with his result, and he did a great job for us.”
The Canadian Show Jumping Team will next compete at the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows “Masters” tournament in Calgary, AB, from September 10 to 14.
The Canadian Show Jumping Team is led by Team Manager Karen Hendry-Ouellette, chef d’equipe Mark Laskin, veterinarian Dr. Sylvie Surprenant, and Darren Roberts as stable manager.
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are held every four years and act as the world championships. This year’s Games take place from August 23 through September 7 in Normandy, France. The next FEI World Equestrian Games will be proudly hosted by Canada in beautiful Bromont, QC. More information on the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Bromont is available here.
For more information, including live scoring, visit the official 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games for www.normandy2014.com.