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Inside the CSIO Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2021 - Friday 10th September

Saturday, 11 September 2021
CSIO5* Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2021

McLain Ward wins the Tourmaline Oil Cup

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.


Press release from The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping



On a breezy and autumnal Calgarian afternoon, 28 horse and rider combinations representing 12 nations contested Friday’s feature class at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the 1.55m Tourmaline Oil Cup. Legendary course designer Leopoldo Palacios set the pairings – which included three out of the world’s current top 10-ranked riders – 12 testing obstacles, with the Venezuelan and his team of assistants making full use of the vast and iconic International Ring. 

American McLain Ward set the early pace with his 15-year-old bay mare, HH Azur, going clear in a time of 72.51s, within the 75-second time limit. Compatriot Kent Farrington and his 14-year-old gelding, Creedance, looked to be on imperious form, breezing around the course fault-free. In a show of American domination, winner of 2019’s CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, Beezie Madden and her 15-year-old La Silla-bred Stallion, Breitling LS also made light work of the 15-fence course. Much to the delight of the crowd, home favourites Tiffany Foster and Erynn Ballard progressed to the shoot-out, both abroad their talented 10-year-olds, Hamilton and Gakhir respectively. In-form Nayel Nassar from Egypt and his veteran 19-year-old gelding, Coronado was joined in the jump-off by Brazil’s Eduardo Menezes and his stallion H5 Chagauns and Australia’s Rowan Willis partnered by his grey stallion Ashton Dakota. 

First to go in the jump-off was recent Olympic team silver medallist, McLain Ward, who set a blistering time of 37.38s, which looked hard to beat, after the next seven riders – Rowan Willis, Kent Farrington, Eduardo Menezes, Erynn Ballard, Beezie Madden and Tiffany Foster – all failed to navigate the eight-fence jump-off without penalties. Last to go, it was apparent that Nayel Nassar was playing it safe, with his sights set on second spot, eventually crossing the line without a fault and finishing runner-up behind deserved winner, McLain Ward. 

On his victory and his mare HH Azur’s stunning performance, the two-time Olympic team gold medallist, commented: “I don’t know if I particularly did it better than any of the other riders, she just jumped it better! I actually wasn’t upset by my position in the jump-off. I was just going to ride my plan, I know what her strengths and weaknesses are at this point, and I thought if I put a little bit of pressure on there might be some mistakes and that played out."

“HH Azur is going to jump the Nations Cup tomorrow for our team, and then Casper, a stallion I’ve been kind of bringing along, who’s a phenomenal jumper and has had a strong summer in Europe, is the horse I’m aiming towards the big Grand Prix on Sunday.”

Rider interview with: Martin Fuchs

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof. Martin Fuchs. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

What makes Spruce Meadows so special? 

Spruce Meadows is one of the most special shows there is. I feel great here, and it’s such a historic place. My dad used to come here all the time, and when I was small he would always tell me what a great show it is. Then when I got to come here eight or nine years ago for the first time it was a really special feeling. 

Which of your young horses are you most excited about? 

I have two very nice young horses. One six-year-old called Captain Morgan [Weering Z] and one seven-year-old called Diva [Van Het Cauterhof Z]. I definitely think these are two horses we will see a lot more from in the future. 

How much of a boost does it give you having fans back at shows? 

It’s great to be back with a crowd. For us riders, it’s so different between riding in front of a crowd and riding without a crowd. It really motivates you to perform better when you have people cheering for you. It really is such a great feeling.

What are you hoping to achieve between now and the end of the year? 

I still have some big goals this year, including the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex here at Spruce Meadows, which would be a dream to win. Next week we have the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, which would be another dream to win. Then at the end of the year, there is the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva, which is my title to defend, so there’s a lot still to come.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? 

My proudest moment would probably be winning the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva. It was against the best riders in the world and included a really exciting and fast jump-off, and to win in front of my home crowd was just amazing. 

Word from the organiser with: Ian Allison

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof. Ian Allison. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

You must be delighted that this year’s edition of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ is going ahead, after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19? 

It’s been a long haul, and it’s great to be getting the band back together, as they say. September 2019 was the last time we celebrated a championship here with Beezie Madden aboard Darry Lou winning the Rolex Grand Slam and starting her cycle, and then the world changed a short time later. It’s been a very, very interesting time, and at times Spruce Meadows became a pretty lonely place for those of us who were here watching all of the goings-on around the world. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the challenges that you’ve had to overcome to ensure that this year’s edition of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ has been able to go ahead? 

The challenges have been extraordinary, as each nation has approached and managed the global pandemic in a different way. Canada is a very large country which covers six time zones and has a large border with the United States, which has been one of the big hurdles, plus the restriction of flights into Canada. We started this process about nine months ago, starting at regional level, then working with the provincial authorities to get our documents in place and our plan approved to host a national event. Following that, it goes from a regulatory to a political side to get what’s called a National Interest Exemption. Fortunately, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping were deemed by the federal government, as something that merited a National Interest Exemption, both for international sport and commerce, which didn’t actually come through until 25 August, so you have to align all of the variables that may or may not effect that, and consider a lot of other planning around the international sporting calendar. We took what would be our CSI5* national tournaments and moved them to September to be part of our ‘Masters’ Tournament, which created a three-week reason for athletes, media, etc. to be at Spruce Meadows. The process was somewhat exhaustive and always everchanging, but we’re here now, the sun is shining, and we have a wonderful entry.



About the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

The Rolex Grand Slam is considered by the sport to be the ultimate equestrian challenge, primarily due to the sporting prowess required to achieve this feat. It is a quest taken on by the world’s top riders, vying to secure the legendary status associated with winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

The format of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is simple: anyone who wins three Majors in a row receives the Rolex Grand Slam trophy and a €1 million bonus on top of the class’s prize-money. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1million bonus. If two shows are won in succession, the bonus is €500,000 or if an athlete wins only 2 majors in a period of four successive shows, the bonus is €250,000.

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