The Canadian Dressage Team placed seventh overall in Nations’ Cup team competition held from September 17 to 19, 2021, at CHIO Aachen, GER.
The Canadian Dressage Team for the CDIO5* Nations’ Cup included three athletes fresh off their recent appearance at the Tokyo Olympic Games – Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu of Saint-Bruno, QC; Naima Moreira Laliberté of Outremont, QC; and Chris von Martels of Wellington, FL. The Olympic trio were joined by Ryan Torkkeli making his Nations’ Cup debut for Canada. Fellow Tokyo Olympian Lindsay Kellock of Wellington, FL, had originally been scheduled to compete on Canada’s Nations’ Cup team but withdrew when her mount, Sebastien, did not display his usual form in training.
The Aachen Nations’ Cup format saw all four team members compete in the Grand Prix on Friday, September 17, with two then contesting the Grand Prix Special on Saturday and two competing in Sunday’s Grand Prix Freestyle. Canadian Team Chef d’Équipe, Ashley Holzer, determined that Laliberté and Torkkeli would compete in the Special while Fraser-Beaulieu and von Martels would ride in Sunday’s Freestyle.
Fraser-Beaulieu led the way for Canada, earning a score of 73.891% to place seventh in the Grand Prix riding All In, a 16-year-old liver chestnut Dutch Warmblood gelding (Tango x Damiro) that she owns in partnership with her father, Craig Fraser, and her husband, Marc-Andre Beaulieu. In addition to being a personal best for the pair, their score of 73.891% set a new Canadian record for highest Grand Prix score in international competition.
“It was a dream of mine to win a ribbon in Aachen, and to have a personal best and set a new Canadian record was incredible,” said Fraser-Beaulieu, 33, who previously competed at Aachen as an individual in the four-star division in 2017. “The timing worked out after Tokyo that we were able to do such a prestigious event. We also met a new rider, Ryan, who put in a very strong performance for Canada which was exciting.”
In Sunday’s Freestyle, Fraser-Beaulieu performed to music composed by Dutch freestyle designer Joost Peters that featured Celine Dion’s ‘I’m Alive’ at the opening and closing of the program. They received a mark of 75.85% to place 12th overall.
“The music gives me chills and suits my horse very well,” said Fraser-Beaulieu of her Freestyle routine. “The degree of difficulty is a ‘10’ but All In was nervous at the beginning which pushed my mark lower. Half-way through, he settled in and relaxed, but it was a costly beginning. It was still a good score, but I was hoping for a little bit higher and to get into the 80s. I will have to save that for another show.”
With a score of 70.348%, von Martels placed 21st in the Grand Prix riding Eclips, a 12-year-old black Dutch Warmblood gelding (Apache x Olympic Ferro) that he owns in partnership with Barbara Soederhuizen. Following Sunday’s Grand Prix Freestyle to dramatic music that highlighted the horse’s passage and piaffe, von Martels placed 15th with a score of 71.755%.
Laliberté, 24, also scored in the 70s with Statesman, a 14-year-old bay Hanoverian gelding (Sandro Hit x Brentano II) owned by KML Inc. The pair received a score of 70.174% in the Grand Prix to place 23rd and 69.702% in Saturday’s Grand Prix Special for 14th position.
In his Canadian Team debut, Torkkeli finished 27th in the Grand Prix with 69.391% and edged ahead of teammate Laliberté to finish 13th in the Special with 69.830%. Torkkeli, 39, is currently based in Königsdorf, GER, and began his journey at the international level earlier this year riding Sternenwanderer, a 15-year-old bay Rheinlander gelding (Lord Loxley I x Ragazzo), owned by Ingetraud Bolz and Dieter Laugks.
Following three days of competition, Canada finished seventh in the final team standings. Germany won the Nations’ Cup in front of a home audience followed by The Netherlands and Great Britain. The United States placed fourth followed by Spain and Sweden in a tie for fifth.
Canada also fielded an individual entry in the CDI-Y Young Riders’ division, open to athletes aged 16 to 21. Camille Carier Bergeron of Mascouche, QC, earned a score of 65.559% to place 11th in the Young Riders’ Individual test on Friday, September 17. The following day, the 21-year-old athlete returned to the Deutsche Bank Stadium for the Freestyle competition. Riding Sound of Silence 4, a 13-year-old dark bay Westphalian gelding (San Amour I x Limes) owned by Gilles Bergeron, Bergeron earned a score of 70.275% for 10th place. Bergeron worked with Canadian freestyle designer, Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage, to create a program featuring music by Simon and Garfunkel, including the iconic song ‘Sound of Silence.’
“She had many great highlights; the trot work was phenomenal,” said Fraser-Beaulieu, who trains Bergeron. “In the canter and the walk, her horse was a little nervous in the atmosphere. The horses aren’t used to the audience, we haven’t competed in front of an audience since March of 2020, so the horses will have to get used to it again. In Aachen, even though it was a limited audience of 7,000 people, they are a well-educated crowd and all like to clap!”
The Canadian Dressage Team was supported at CHIO Aachen by veterinarian, Dr. Usha Knabe, and Chef d’ Équipe, Ashley Holzer.
For more information on CHIO Aachen, including full results, visit www.chioaachen.de/en.