The Canadian Show Jumping Team won the $600,000 BMO Nations’ Cup held Saturday, September 11, at the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament in Calgary, AB, for the third time in the event’s history.

Erynn Ballard, Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze, and Amy Millar led Canada to the win over four other teams. With travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 global pandemic compounded by the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and European Championships taking place weeks before this year’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament, the starting field was diminished in numbers but not in thrilling sport.

Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and the United States were all invited to put forward a second team with only Canada taking advantage of the opportunity. However, it was Canada’s top team that secured the victory with a two-round total of eight faults over the United States with 15 faults. The Canada 2 team placed a close third with 16 faults while Mexico took fourth with 32 faults. Ireland rounded out the top five with 44 faults.

At the end of the opening round, Canada 1 sat at the top of the leaderboard with a single time fault. The horses and riders carried their form into the second round and, after the first three riders had jumped, there was no need for anchor rider Lamaze to return as Canada 1 had the win sewn up.

As the lead-off rider, Foster, 37, of North Vancouver, BC, jumped clear in the first round but, like so many other competitors in the Nations’ Cup, incurred a time fault for exceeding the 82-second time allowed set by two-time Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela. Coming back in the second round, Foster had one rail down for four faults plus one time fault riding Northern Light, a 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Plot Blue x Contender) that she owns in partnership with Artisan Farms LLC.

Ballard, 40, of Tottenham, ON, exuded skill and confidence to produce the day’s only double clear performance. Riding Jack van’t Kattenheye, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Diabeau x Canadian River) owned by Lindemann Barnett Sporthorses, Ballard overcame a dramatic moment at the open water in the opening round to deliver for her country. Ballard was also a member of the Canadian Team riding Robin Van Roosendael when Canada won its first BMO Nations’ Cup title in 2006.

Erynn Ballard and Jack van’t Kattenheye had the only double-clear performance. (Spruce Meadows Media / Mike Sturk)

Millar, 44, of Perth, ON, also left all the rails in place throughout the two rounds of competition but was caught by the tight time allowed. Aboard Truman, a 12-year-old Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago x Kolibri) owned by Millar Brooke Farm Ltd. and Overlund, Millar incurred one time fault in the opening round and two time faults during her second trip around the International Ring.

Last to go for Canada, Lamaze, 53, of Wellington, FL, delivered a textbook clear performance with his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner Fine Lady 5, an 18-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Artisan Farms LLC and Torrey Pines Stable. That left the Canada 1 team with only one time fault to count in the opening round. With seven faults added in the second round by Foster and Millar, Canada’s score of eight faults had already secured the win, giving Lamaze no reason to return.

“How fitting that she was able to put in a good performance in her final gallop around this fine arena,” said Lamaze, who has indicated that Fine Lady 5 will soon be retired from international competition. “The girls did a great job today; they all rode wonderful and allowed me to not have to jump my 18-year-old mare in the second round. It was a little emotional for me leaving the ring today; there are a lot of memories of a lot of great wins with her here.”

Having claimed victory in the richest Nations’ Cup team event held in North America in 2006 and 2014, Canada can now add a third win in the event that’s been held since 1977 to its record.

“It’s a simple formula; you get good riders, good horses, and good people,” smiled Mark Laskin, chef d’equipe of the Canadian Show Jumping Team. “Nations’ Cups are hard. It has to be your day, but it also has to not be the other teams’ day. I was quite confident, but you just never know. So much has to come together. When it works, there is no sweeter feeling. And it’s the most fun to win at Spruce Meadows. It’s home.”

Speaking to the unusual circumstance of being invited to enter two teams, Laskin said, “We felt we could put together two competitive teams, so we jumped at the opportunity. It’s hard to get invitations to jump in a Nations’ Cup, even at the three-star level. We showed we do have depth as our second team was one fault away from being second.”

The Canada 2 team put forth a strong effort with Mario Deslauriers, 56, of New York, NY, posting scores of zero and four riding Uris de la Roque, a 13-year-old Selle Français gelding (Capital x Quick Star) that he owns in partnership with Aram Ampagoumian LLC.

Brian Morton, 35, and now based in Calgary, AB, provided the drop score for both rounds after posting 17 and 15 faults respectively with Cadillac, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Corlensky G x El Bundy) owned by Spruce Meadows Ltd.

Samantha Buirs-Darvill, 34, of Langley, BC, impressed by jumping clear, albeit with time faults in both rounds aboard Baton Rouge, her 10-year-old Canadian-bred Oldenburg gelding (Banderas x Karandasj). Baton Rouge’s dam, Total Touch, is the horse Buirs-Darvill rode in her last Nations’ Cup appearance for Canada in 2010 in Buenos Aires, ARG.

Riding in the anchor position, Ben Asselin, 27, of Calgary, AB, posted scores of five and four faults respectively with The Freshman, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Namelus R x Chin Chin) owned by Spruce Meadows Ltd. and Asselin’s grandmother and Spruce Meadows co-founder, Margaret Southern.

Competition concludes at the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament on Sunday, September 12, with the $2.5 million CP International, presented by Rolex. For more information and results, visit