The Canadian Show Jumping Team has qualified for the Team Final to be held on Thursday, September 4, at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen, France.
The Canadian Team comprised of 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, are currently sitting sixth in the team standings with a two-day score of 14 penalties. The top 10 teams, from an original starting field of 35 nations, qualified for the Team Final.
Candele was the pathfinder once again for the Canadian Team, delivering a clear round as only the second rider to tackle the deceptively difficult track set by French course designer Frédéric Cottier. In his second consecutive world championship appearance, Candele is riding Showgirl, a 14-year-old chestnut selle francais mare (Gold de Becourt x Elf III) owned by The Watermark Group.
“The course was a step up from yesterday, still fair, but bigger and wider,” said Candele. “It rode even bigger than it walked. Thankfully, our clear round gave a little bit of comfort, and it carries a little bit of momentum, but there is still a lot of work. I hope everything goes well for us. We are a super group; we are best friends, all of us.”
Candele’s would prove to be the team’s only clear round of the day, allowing Canada to maintain its sixth place standing following the opening speed phase of competition on Tuesday. Millar and Lamaze both posted scores of four faults each, while Foster provided the drop score of eight faults.
Individually, Candele moved up to 17th in the individual standings with a two-day score of 4.19. With 4.91 penalties, Millar is close behind in 19th position with Dixson, an 11-year-old bay Belgian Warmblood gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Olisco) owned by Susan and Ariel Grange of Cheltenham, ON.
“The sport today is such a game of inches,” said Millar following his four-fault round. “There is such quality and quantity out there. You miss by that much and they are going to get you for sure. There is no mercy. The other teams are not going to let you get by with that one.
“On the other hand, tomorrow is another day,” the 10-time Olympian continued. “We are the eternal optimists. As a small (show jumping) country, we have achieved some amazing results, and there is no reason why we can’t do the same here.”
Lamaze is also close in the rankings, sitting 24th on a score of 5.96 with Zigali P S, a 10-year-old dark bay Dutch Warmblood gelding (Kigali x STB-H Palfrenier) owned by Carlene and Andy Ziegler’s Artisan Farms LLC while Foster lies 51st with 11.13 riding Verdi III, a 12-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding (Hors La Loi II x Cantus) also owned by Artisan Farms LLC.
Lamaze and Zigali P S were close to home when a rail fell at 12 ‘a’ of the double combination.
“I wasn’t a big fan of that line,” said Lamaze, expressing his concern having watched the first three-quarters of the competition before it was his turn to tackle the track. “That’s Zigali’s lack of experience; I knew I was going to have to be a little bit lucky there. I thought he handled everything else quite well.”
As for Canada’s current standing, Lamaze smiled, “Yann is an early riser; we are going to keep him first thing in the morning, doing his thing! He did a great job, and the horse is experienced; he knows her well now. You need clear rounds, and no more than four faults. As a team, it’s not over, and individually, anything can still happen. There’s a long way to go!”
The Team Final gets underway Thursday and will see the top 10 teams challenging for the medals. The Netherlands currently leads the way with 4.83 followed by the United States with 8.72. Germany lies third with 8.82, the French home side is fourth with 10.08, and Brazil rounds out the top five with 12.95. The top five countries in the Team Final earn a berth to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. As Brazil is the home nation, they are automatically guaranteed a starting spot.
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.
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.