Wow. Give me a moment to restart my heart…..okay, I’m good, but just thinking about today gets me excited!
Today was nearly a perfect day with lovely Alberta sunshine, 36 000+ fans in attendance, special guests, and some world class show jumping. I must admit, I got a little camera happy, I managed to take nearly 500 photos…..yikes….but that means I have lots to show you- it will just be hard to pick my favourite ones!
So, starting at the beginning, lets take a look at the 1.50m $80 000 TD Cup. 26 pairs took on the tough track set by Werner Deeg (GER), with only 6 advancing to the jump-off.
Ian Millar (CAN) was ever so close with ‘Star Power’, but unfortunately had the very last jump down- the crowd was very loud in its displeasure, but being the gentleman he is, he just shook his head and smiled…there is always another class.
The day truly belonged Canada’s Tiffany Forster who, with her horse ‘Victor’, jumped a flawless first round and a careful yet quick jump-off round to capture the victory. I have never ever ever seen anyone so ecstatic and appreciative over a win. It was a lot like a speech at an awards show, she was so thankful and had nothing but wonderful things to say about her horse – “Wasn’t he wonderful? He’s just fantastic!”/trainer (Lamaze- who came 12th)/everyone(!)….it really was fantastic to see.
Many thanks to Carlene Ziegler from Artisan Farms for sending us this great video of Tiffany Foster accepting the TD Cup Championship. Mrs. Southern called her the most enthusiastic winner in the 36 year history of Spruce Meadows!
In case you are not familiar with this combination, we found a video of Tiffany riding Victor at the Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI2* 1m45 in Kentucky earlier this year.
Eric Lamaze later said that the win couldn’t have gone to a better person. A few years ago she had a serious back injury and her prospects were uncertain, and today her hard work was rewarded. Congratulations Tiffany!
So, who were the special guests? The Royal Couple? No – unfortunately they flew out to LA on Friday…it was nice to see Prince William in a cowboy hat earlier though 😉 . Instead, Canada’s Governor General- David Johnston, and the Prime Minister- Stephen Harper, stopped by for the 1.60m $200 000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. There was a buzz about it all morning and security was noticeably increased. Super exciting? Okay, maybe not, but it was nice to see nonetheless. They were both very friendly and seemed to enjoy the competition…especially the end result!
Alright, heart attack time.
The QEII consists of 2 rounds – all 29 competitors attempting the first with only the top 12 moving onto the second, and then a jump-off if needed. The course was long and very tough with some of the top horses and riders in the world having a lot of grief with not only the fences, but also with the tight time allowed.
Hap Hansen (USA) almost met the ground after crashing through a fence with ‘Archie Bunker’. Fortunately, he was able to regain his balance and some level of control to finish the course with 6 faults – good enough to make it into the second round and eventually place 5th.
Only 2 clears were produced in the first round belonging to Rich Fellers (USA) on ‘Flexible’ and Eric Lamaze (CAN) on ‘Hickstead’. The second round consisted of a shorter track, and riders came in carrying their faults from the first round. Ian Millar (CAN) on ‘In Style’ produced a solid 5 fault go over the tricky course, finishing on a score of 6, good enough for 3rd place and $25 000- not bad.
Now, as you have probably realized, I am a huge Lamaze fan (especially on Hickstead) and obviously was rooting heavily for them. They came into the second round, as the second-to-last pair to go, looking wonderful. Hickstead was fabulous (as usual), and they made it look pretty easy.
Phew, great they have it in the bag, I thought……but who’s left? Rich Fellers?! Gulp, okay this may get interesting. And it did. If I have learned anything about balancing equations in my countelss algebra and calculus courses, I know that this one (when both pairs are ‘on’) holds true: (Fellers+Flexible)=(Lamaze+Hickstead). Both riders are fantastically talented and both horses are quick and can jump the moon. So, when Fellers went clear on Flexible to force a jump-off, it was certainly game-on.
The jump-off took place over a different, even shorter, course. Lamaze had the unlucky position of going first and he put it all out on the line. Slicing and dicing turns, galloping to the base of fences….it look good with a time of 43.32sec. But Hickstead has a tendency to spend a lot of time in the air…so there was a narrow window that Fellers could possibly take advantage of. And, well guess what, he did.
In a time of 42.82 sec he flew around the course, and it seemed like he had it for sure….until the rail of the very last jump came down. The crowd exploded! Sorry Rich, but you are on Canadian turf, and we love it when a Canadian duo takes the win…especially Eric and Hickstead!
Check back tomorrow for Sunday’s action from the ‘North American’! As always, full results can be found here.
Here’s a video of Saturday highlights from Spruce Meadows