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Torrey Pines

Canadian Show Jumping Team Third in Nations’ Cup of La Baule, France

La Baule, France – The Canadian Show Jumping Team finished third in the €250,000 Nations’ Cup held Friday, May 6, during the CSIO5* International Jumping La Baule in La Baule, France.

Comprised of Canadian Olympians Yann Candele, Tiffany Foster, Amy Millar, and Beth Underhill, Team Canada faced seven other nations in the François André Stadium during the 61st edition of the French show jumping fixture.  Canada was competing under the guidance of 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze, who was acting in his new role of chef d’equipe for the third time.

Canada opened with a strong result in the first round, counting four faults to sit tied for the lead with Belgium at the half-way mark.  France, Italy, and Sweden were close behind with eight faults apiece ensuring that the second round would be pivotal to the outcome.

Candele, 51, of Orangeville, ON, was the lead-off rider for Canada, despite having only been paired with a new mount, Farezzo, days earlier.  Riding in a five-star Nations’ Cup was a big ask for the pair’s international debut, and Candele and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Arezzo VDL x Van Gogh) posted scores of eight and 12 faults, both of which were discarded from Canada’s final tally.

Foster, 37, of Langley, BC, was picture perfect in the opening round and delivered a clear for Canada with Figor, a 12-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding (Querly-Elvis x Indoctro) that she owns in partnership with Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms LLC.  Coming back in the second round, the pair faulted at both the double and the triple combinations, picking up a total of eight faults.

Underhill, 59, of Mulmer, ON, was third in the rotation for Canada riding Lamaze’s former mount, Dieu Merci van T&L, owned by the Rein Family LLC and Torrey Pines Stable Inc.  Having jumped clear the first time over the track set by French course designer Gregory Bodo, Underhill and the 13-year-old Belgian Sport Horse stallion (Toulon x Corrado I) once again produced a fault-free round.  Underhill was one of three competitors to produce a double clear performance, the other two being Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet riding his Tokyo Olympic mount, Nevados S, and Antonio Maria Garofalo of Italy aboard Conquestador.

“I’m thrilled!” said Underhill.  “The horse jumped so well for me; he was spectacular.  I don’t know him that well and it was my first Nations’ Cup with him.  We’d only done a handful of classes together, but I felt very confident.  Eric knows the horse so well having ridden it himself and has helped me with that aspect of putting together a partnership.  I thought he jumped even better in the second round than the first; he gave me a supreme effort.

“I’m so grateful to Eric for believing in me and thank him and the Rein family for giving me this opportunity,” continued Underhill.  “To be here and be riding against this type of competition brings everything up another level.  It was great, and a fantastic team effort all around.  There is a lot of solidarity within our team; it all bodes well for the future.”

There was a new Millar family member riding in the anchor position for Team Canada.  As the daughter of 10-time Olympian Ian Millar, Amy stepped into her father’s former role.  The 45-year-old from Perth, ON, had a rail at fence nine for four faults in the opening round but returned to deliver a crucial clear the second time out with Truman, a 13-year-old Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago x Kolibri) owned by Millar Brooke Farm Ltd. and Overlund.

Adding Foster’s eight faults to the four incurred by Millar in the opening round gave Canada a final score of 12 faults.  France also produced a score of 12 faults but in a faster combined time of 211.13 seconds compared to Canada’s 217.12 seconds to break the tie in favour of the home nation.

Belgium claimed victory with eight faults, followed by France and Canada.  The defending champion, Switzerland, was faster than Italy to take fourth place when both countries had 16 fault totals.  Germany took sixth position with 17 faults followed by Brazil in seventh with 21 faults while Sweden was eighth with 28 faults.

“They are all great riders and what they did today was incredible,” said Lamaze of his Canadian team members.  “It’s a new horse for Yann and it was a big ask, but they’ll be further along for the next time.  Beth was nothing but class; I’m not sure I could have done any better myself.  She is a world-class rider and I’m glad she had the opportunity to show her talent.  All four riders are great to work with and everyone came prepared and ready to execute.  We tied for second on faults at one of the best shows in the world with eight incredible teams and proved we belonged.”

A fan favourite at the French venue when he was competing, Lamaze has a long history with La Baule.  He has won the Grand Prix of La Baule on two occasions, in 2011 riding the great Hickstead and again in 2014 aboard Powerplay.

“It was emotional to walk into the ring during the parade carrying the Canadian flag and to hear the crowd cheering for Canada and screaming my name,” said Lamaze, who recently announced his retirement from competition.  “I wasn’t sure if I would still feel like I was a part of it if I wasn’t riding myself, but I realized today that I now have more responsibility as chef d’equipe than I ever did riding my own horse.  Not only are you a part of it, you’re a really big part of it.  Now I’m responsible for four people.  I’m the guy in front of the orchestra now.

“What the riders did today was incredible and puts Canada back on the international scene,” continued Lamaze.  “Team spirit has never been higher and that’s very powerful.  Everyone helps each other, and they treat each other with respect.  That’s what it’s supposed to be about.  The story for Canada is about to change in a major way.  The world is ahead of us and we’re ready for it!”

Show jumping competition at CSIO5* La Baule continues through Sunday, May 8, when the €500,000 Rolex Grand Prix will be the featured event.  For more information and full results, visit www.labaule-cheval.com.

The Canadian Show Jumping Team will next compete in the €220,000 Nations’ Cup of Rome on Friday, May 27, beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET.  Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States have been invited to take part.

PHOTO:
Canadian Show Jumping Team personnel celebrate in the ‘kiss and cry’ area.  From left to right: Karen Hendry-Ouellette, Tiffany Foster, Tim Wilks, Eric Lamaze, Clémence Resseguier, and David Marion.
Photo by Pierre Costabadie/Scoopdyga.com

Beth Underhill of Mulmer, ON, delivered double clear rounds riding Dieu Merci van T&L, owned by the Rein Family LLC and Torrey Pines Stable Inc. Beth Underhill of Mulmer, ON, delivered double clear rounds riding Dieu Merci van T&L, owned by the Rein Family LLC and Torrey Pines Stable Inc. Photo by Pierre Costabadie/Scoopdyga.com

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