Ocala, Fla. – Feb. 18, 2018 – Nations Cup week at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit culminated on Sunday with the highly anticipated $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the USA CSIO5*, which kicked off the 2018 season of the North/Central America and Caribbean division of the brand new Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series. After two rounds of tough competition, Team Canada stood atop the podium with the only two riders to produce double-clear efforts throughout the competition: Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar.
Led by Chef d’Équipe Mark Laskin, Canada drew third in the order out of six nations for the first round. The course, designed by Brazil’s Marina Azevedo, posed a great challenge to the international field of athletes, which consisted of 10 Olympic veterans, as rails fell all over the course, but particularly in the triple combination across the diagonal (triple bar-oxer-vertical) and over the very last fence, a tall Longines vertical. Sunday’s Nations Cup was also the first CSIO5* track Azevedo has ever built, and she didn’t hold back.
Canada’s leading combination, Francois Lamontagne and his own Chanel Du Calvaire, picked up 5 faults to kick things off in the first round, which would eventually end up being the team’s drop score. Tiffany Foster and Brighton, owned by Artisan Farms, LLC, collected 4 faults, while Millar and Ariel Grange’s Dixson and anchor combination Lamaze and Artisan Farms, LLC and Torrey Pines Stable, Inc.’s Coco Bongo jumped clear to end on a total of 4 faults at the conclusion of round one.
The teams returned in reverse order of their standings for round two, where Canada sat tied for first place with Germany, who also finished round one with only 4 faults. Yet the second round proved to be much more difficult for the German team, who collected rails in each of their rounds and had horse-and-rider, Christian Heineking and Nkh Caruso, eliminated due to a refusal at the open water obstacle, thus throwing away their drop score. As a result, the top position was left wide open for Canada if they could stay consistent with their first round.
Lamontagne lowered the height of one fence for 4 faults, while Foster had an unfortunate second round with Brighton finishing with 16 faults. However, Millar and Lamaze came through in the clutch once again, delivering faultless performances to drop Foster’s score and finish on 4 faults for round two, and 8 faults in total, garnering them their sixth Nations Cup gold medal at HITS Ocala (tied with the USA).
Brazil, who sat behind Canada on the leaderboard after the first round with 8 faults, also stayed consistent to only collect another 8 faults in the second round, claiming the silver medal with a total score of 16 faults. The team consisted of Felipe Amaral and Premiere Carthoes BZ, Fabio Leivas Da Costa and Fox Trot V D Padenborre, Rodrigo Lambre and Coleman and anchor combination Yuri Mansur and Inferno with Chef d’Équipe Pedro Paulo Lacerda.
The United States team tied for bronze with Team Ireland with a total score of 24 faults. Lauren Hough and Ohlala picked up 8 faults in the first round, while Laura Kraut and Confu and Beezie Madden and Darry Lou collected 4 faults. McLain Ward and HH Callas added 12 faults, which was dropped for a first round total of 16 faults.
In round two, the USA sat tied in the third place position with Ireland, who also finished round one with 16 faults, and was third in the order-of-go. Hough and the 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood kicked off the second round successfully completing the course and jumping fault-free to deliver the first and only clear round for the U.S.
Kraut and Madden picked up 4 faults each in round two, while Ward incurred another 12 faults to be the drop score once again for a total of 8 faults and a cumulative score of 24 faults.
However, since Ireland competes in the Europe Division 1 group, the USA was able to pick up the third place points towards qualifying for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in October.
After Sunday’s results, Canada currently leads the way in the North/Central America and Caribbean division standings with 100 points, followed by the USA in second with 75 points and Mexico in third with 55 points.
The next leg in the North/Central America and Caribbean division of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series will be CSIO5* Coapexpan in Xalapa, Mexico, on Sunday, April 22, followed by CSIO5* Langley at Thunderbird Show Park on Sunday, June 3.
For full results from Sunday’s Nations Cup, click here.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
On performing under the pressure of being the anchor for Team Canada:
“We kept changing between me and Ian as far as who was going to be the anchor, but I can really rely on Coco Bongo’s carefulness, especially lately. He’s really been on form. I love the Nations Cup format and I’m a big fan of it. For me, there is always pressure whether you go first, second or third. You want to do well. You’re not riding for yourself, you’re riding for your country so you always have pressure. Going fourth there is pressure, but the first rider also has pressure.”
On the week’s courses:
“Congratulations to Marina. I’ve traveled around the world to many 5* shows and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen courses so well built. They were fair to the horses but there were still very few clear rounds. I thought the grand prix was fantastic and this was a super well-built Nations Cup.”
On the new Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series format:
“I like it because I’m very much a Nations Cup rider. When I was less mature than I am now, my big objective and all I wanted to do was ride for Canada on the Nations Cup teams. Yes, the grand prix events are very important, but Nations Cups are even more important to me. For them to have this prestige and financial backing — I’m all for it.”
“He is generally showing one level below this level. I kind of changed my plan a little bit in the second round because I had number two down. I sometimes like to do that because then it just puts a little more pressure on Ian and Eric. They really rescued us so it was all just part of the plan.”
On Chanel Du Calvaire:
“My mare jumped well both rounds. It was my mistakes both times that we finished with faults; she went her best and she wasn’t discouraged afterwards. I think my teammates were more useful to me than I was to them.”
Mark Laskin – Canada chef d’équipe
On selecting Sunday’s gold medal-winning team:
“Ocala is a priority for us. Most years it is the qualifying point for the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona so this was a great first step. When a Nations Cup is this important, the first two phone calls I always make are to “Captain Canada” (Ian Millar) and Eric Lamaze. I’m really proud of our team today. I think it was a real team effort with everyone contributing.”
Marina Azevedo – Course designer
On building her first CSIO5* courses at HITS:
“It’s very hard to build at the 4* and 5* levels in America. I wanted to have 4 or 8 faults for the winner of the Nations Cup so I’m very happy we had 8 faults today. I’m happy we didn’t have less. I think 8 faults is a good number to have for the Nations Cup. I think the time-allowed today was more fair than in [Thursday’s] grand prix, but the grand prix, to me, is harder to build than a Nations Cup.”
Tom Struzzieri – President and CEO of HITS
On hosting the U.S. leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series at HITS:
“This is my first time organizing a 5*, but Longines is such a spectacular sponsor. They make it a lot easier to put on the event. We think we learned a lot after today and we hope we’ll have another chance.”