Canada clinched their second victory in a row in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Coapexpan, Mexico yesterday. Only four teams lined up for the second of the three qualifiers in the North America, Central America and Caribbean League – and the Canadians won in a two-way jump-off against the American team. Having also topped the opening leg in Wellington, Florida in March the Canadians are now in a very strong position going into the third and final qualifer on home turf at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, next month.
French course designer Frederic Cottier's course started out over a multi-coloured oxer which was followed by a vertical at fence 2 and an oxer at three. The white vertical at fence four led on to an oxer at five and then the triple combination - vertical, oxer, vertical with just one stride between each element - at six. There was a wide blue oxer at 7 before riders turns right-handed to the open water and then on to the double at fence 9 with its big opening oxer followed by a vertical.
The real battle was played out between the Americans and Canadians, and both teams gave their all. Jonathan McCrea and Special Lux improved from a first round on four faults to jump a fabulous clear to get the Americans off to the perfect start in round two, and that was followed by the second of two quality clears from Sarah Segal and Ramses. Christine Tribble McCrea and Zerly landed on the back bar of the big blue oxer at fence seven and also hit the first element of the double at nine for eight faults, but Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo followed their single first-round error with a foot-perfect second round to ensure the US side had nothing to add to the five faults they posted in round one.
The Canadians looked a little vulnerable when Chris Sorensen and Bobby hit the oxer at fence five, but when Jonathon Millar and Calvin Klein improved from a five-fault first-round effort to leave the entire course intact and then 18 year old Kara Chad followed with a second sensational clear with Alberto ll it was up to Ian Millar to keep them in the game, which he did despite a very lucky moment at the second element of the double at nine.
The stage was now set for a two-way showdown, and you could hear a pin drop as Madden returned to the ring for the jump-off. The new course was twisting, and it was clear from the outset that the turnback to the tricky double at fence nine would prove crucial, and so it was, Madden's 16-year-old Coral Reef Via Volo clipping this one for four faults in 33.40 seconds.
It was no surprise when the Canadians sent Ian Millar back into the ring with Star Power, and with the door now open, he had to decide whether to go for a slow clear or to attempt to beat his rival's time. He joked afterwards, "You don't often have this type of situation when competing in a Nations Cup but Beezie did a really nice thing for our team and we're really delighted with the result!" His decision to take it slowly paid dividends as he left all the poles in place to cross the line in 41.96 and seal the victory.
The North America, Central America and Caribbean League series now moves on to one final clash in Calgary in five weeks time and that promises to be another thriller as just 20 points separate the leading Canadians from the USA in second place while Mexico lies just 20 points further adrift.
1. Canada 5/0 0/41.96 in third-round jump-off: Bobby (Chris Sorensen) 5/4, Calvin Klein (Jonathon Millar) 5/4, Alberto ll (Kara Chad) 0/0, Star Power (Ian Millar) 0/0/ 0/41.96.
2. USA 5/0/ 4/33.40 in third-round jump-off : Special Lux (Jonathan McCrea) 4/0, Ramses (Sarah Segal) 0/0, Zerly (Christine Tribble McCrea) 1/8, Coral Reef Via Volo (Beezie Madden) 4/0 4/33.40.
3. Mexico 1 : Pekin St Denis (Lorenza O'Farrill) 4/5, Jumex Sport Archimdes (Sofia Larrea) 1/4, Wick (Manuel Rodriguez) 1/9, Anton (Jaime Axcarraga) 19/1.
4. Mexico 2 : Candela (Patricio Pasquel) 9/25, Quin Chin (Juan Carlos Franco Hernandez) 0/4, Caressini L (Luis Alejandro Plascencia) 8/4, Siterma (Hector Caro) 8/0.
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