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Inside the CSIO Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2021 - Saturday 11th September

Sunday, 12 September 2021
CSIO5* Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2021

Tiffany Foster and Brighton win the Suncor Winning Round

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof. Tiffany Foster and Brighton. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

Twenty five combinations contested Saturday’s 1m50 Suncor Winning Round in a wet International Ring following overnight and early morning rain. However, spectators’ spirits were not in the slightest bit dampened, as they were treated to some world-class performances from not only Canada’s finest equestrian athletes, but also a number of leading riders from eight other nations, who descended on Calgary for the 2021 edition of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.

Round 1’s proceedings were dominated by the home nation, with four Canadian riders amongst the 10 who eventually progressed to Round 2, including Tiffany Foster and her 15-year-old gelding, Brighton, Amy Millar and her 11-year-old gelding, Christiano, and the experienced duo of Eric Lamaze and Jim Ifko, who were partnered by 11-year-old gelding, Kino and the 12-year-old La Silla-bred mare, Celine Ls La Silla, respectively. The Irish trio of Jordan Coyle (Centriko Volo), Daniel Coyle (Ivory TCS) and Conor Swail also made the top-10 cut, and were joined in the Winning Round by the talented 23-year-old Belgian, Zoe Conter (Dawa De Greenbay Z), the in-form Egyptian, Nayel Nassar (Igor Van De Wittemoere), and British rider, Matthew Sampson (Geneve R). 

But in the end, it was Tiffany Foster’s day to shine in front of an enthralled crowd, after she and the brilliant Brighton did enough to see off a late challenge from Irishman, Conor Swail, beating him to top spot by three tenths of a second, with the current world number 59-ranked rider, Egyptian Nayel Nassar slotting into third place.

Delighted with her long-time partner, Brighton, Foster, commented: “The Suncor Winning Round here at Spruce Meadows is a kind of unique event, as you know you don’t carry your faults, which means you’ve got to get into that top 10, so it’s always better to carry a little bit of rhythm. Brighton seems to love this class, so I just ride my round. The good thing about him is he’s super-fast, so even if I happen to have one down I’m usually in with a shout, but he’s clear more than not!”

Rider interview with: Eric Lamaze

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

Which horses are you competing with this week? And can you tell us a bit about their characters? 

I have Dieu Merci [Van T & L], who is an up and coming stallion. He’s 11-years-old this year and he’s going to be my future star. He will be doing the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex here on Sunday, and hopefully in the future he’ll be able to put a Rolex Grand Slam Major in his pocket, or in my pocket. He’s going to do great things, this horse – I really believe in him. I have my young horse, Fine Lady [5], who’s 18-years-old (!) – I don’t know if I have to say much about her. She’s a winner. She’s not as sharp as she once was, but she still loves jumping and we’re planning on keeping her in form just to finish in Geneva, if she will let us do that. I have a new horse called Kino, who we just purchased, as an addition for this year, as we have some great young horses coming next year. I don’t know him well, so I can’t tell you which way it’s going to go. I like the horse and the horse seems to like me. 

Why is CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ such a special show to compete at? 

Spruce Meadows in general is special. Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ is the Wimbledon for me; it’s the French Open; it’s all of the above. It’s a Rolex Grand Slam Major; it really is the event. This year with travelling and covid and the restrictions, you’re not going to see the familiar faces, but you’re not going to see any less difficulty in the course. I really believe that it’s going to be something that’s incredible.

Who do you think will be the one to beat in the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex? 

I believe Kent Farrington, Scott Brash and Steve Guerdat. It’s like horseracing: I always pick the favourite, but I always lose, so I don’t know!

Walking the course with: Leopoldo Palacios

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

What makes Spruce Meadows different from other international shows? 

We see other shows using long distances, very light poles, not a lot of materials and a short time allowed. Here at Spruce Meadows we have big poles, heavy fences, and I believe we’re using more space than any other show. I’m seeing other shows’ 5* courses around the world today with 1.60m and 1.70m oxers in their Grands Prix. On Sunday I will have 1.75m and more, and I’m also using short distances. We like to be this way and we like to be unique. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the course that you’ve designed for tomorrow’s CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex? 

For many years, I believe the course that I’ve been designing for Sunday’s class is one of the hardest in the world. The feature class at Spruce Meadows has become a benchmark for what the horses are able to jump, and this year I feel confident that we will have an excellent Grand Prix, as I think we have a group of riders here who are absolutely world class. The first round will require a normal level of show jumping. You then have to remember that only 12 riders will progress to the second round, which I think will prove to be the absolute limit to what their horses are able to handle.

How much work has the team at Spruce Meadows put into making this year’s event happen?

They’ve all spent an incredible amount of time to put the ‘Masters’ Tournament on. The team has been working tirelessly to ensure that my visa was granted to allow me to travel to Canada from Venezuela. People have to understand how international this show is, the huge amount of people come from so many different overseas countries. To find show jumping crew was a huge challenge for the organising committee. Spruce Meadows is a seasonal event, which requires a lot of people to make it happen, and finding help wasn’t easy.

 


 

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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