The Canadian Junior Team took sixth place in the Hollow Creek Farm Junior Nations Cup, held March 5 during the CSIO 4* Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
The Nations Cup was held as part of a series during WEF 8 that put the spotlight on the rising stars of show jumping. In addition to the Nations Cup, a Jumper Welcome and Grand Prix for Children, Junior and Young Riders were held, all sponsored by Hollow Creek Farm.
Canada’s Junior Team earned their hard-fought sixth place in the Nations Cup after two challenging rounds set by course designers, Steve Stephens and Ken Krome from the USA. The course featured a total of 15 jumping efforts, which included three one-stride combinations, and a tricky related distance to a full-size water jump, also used in the senior FEI Nations Cup on March 4.
Canadian Junior Team members, Jennifer Mattell of Milton, ON, Kathryn Dafoe of Nobleton, ON, Zoe Meloff of Toronto, ON, and Christine Carlsen of North York, ON, completed the Nations Cup on a two-round total of 41.
Pathfinder for Canada, Dafoe kicked things off in round one with 12 jumping faults, and two time faults after finishing up slightly above the tight time allowed set at 81 seconds. The time was later adjusted to 84 seconds for round two. Her partner was Eos van de Donkhoeve (Calvaro x Ohio van de Padenborre), a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by KD LAN Solutions LTD. The duo returned to improve their performance in round two, lowering just one rail for four faults.
Next in for Canada in each round was Carlsen aboard Cardoso, her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, sired by Apple Juice. Together they incurred just one rail and one time fault in each of the two rounds, finishing on scores of five faults.
Meloff, partnered with her 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, HHS Charmer (Don Juan de la Bouverie x Diamonds are Trumps), incurred elimination in round one, but persevered to complete the course in round two.
Riding in the anchor position was Mattell, who was one of few to finish under the time allowed in round one, incurring eight jumping faults, and returned to better her score and finish on four faults in round two with Cherokee (Cardento x Creool), a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Joe Mattell.
Following senior Nations Cup rules, teams of four riders had the ability to drop one score from each round, bringing Canada’s total to 28 for round one and 13 for round two, for an overall team total of 41 faults for sixth place. The USA claimed the win on three faults, with Brazil following in second on 13 faults. Third place went to Ireland on a team total of 17, with Mexico following in fourth on 26 faults and Ecuador rounding out the top five with 30 faults.
“In a team event like that, there is always a lot of pressure and it’s a different type of atmosphere,” said Beth Underhill, Chef d’Équipe for Canada’s Children and Junior teams during WEF 8 and Jump Canada Young Rider Development Program Advisor. “I think the first round of the Nations Cup was challenging, but everyone came back and rode much better in the second round and had very respectable results. That was very encouraging to me that they were able to pull it together as a team and really ride for Canada and fix the mistakes they had in the first round.”
Outside of the Nations Cup, Mattell and Cherokee were also successful in the Hollow Creek Farm Junior Welcome on March 3, putting in a faultless performance in a time of 72.03 for sixth place. Dafoe and Eos van de Donkhoeve were also clear in a time of 73.22 for 10th place. On the final day of competition on March 6, Mattell put in a double-clear performance in the Hollow Creek Farm Junior Grand Prix for fourth place on a time of 31.972, less than two seconds off the winning time of 30.017 seconds by Carlos Hank Guerreiro of Mexico.
Canada was also represented throughout the week by the Children’s Team of Madison Hilderman from Calgary, AB, Sam Walker from Nobleton, ON, and Jada Wagner from De Winton, AB. Children’s highlights included Hilderman riding to a second place finish in the Hollow Creek Farm Children’s Grand Prix on March 6. Paired with her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Kenzo, sired by Kupido K, Hilderman put in a double-clear performance, stopping the clock at 41.889, just behind the winning time of 39.403 achieved by Luciana Gonzalez Guerra of Mexico. Hilderman also achieved a clear round in the Hollow Creek Farm Children’s Jumper Welcome on March 3 for sixth place.
“I think what we were most pleased about was how everyone improved dramatically as the week went on,” said Underhill. “For riders to have their personal best scores on the last day of competition was really gratifying. Thank you to everyone who helped make it all possible. We really enjoyed the week and it was great competition. I hope we can have more of them to give the kids experience at that level.”
On behalf of Canada’s Children and Junior Teams, Equine Canada thanks three Canadian companies who supported the teams during WEF 8. Running Fox provided saddle pads and Canadian Team apparel, Asmar Equestrian supplied athlete apparel, and SSG Gloves donated SSG ‘Digital’ style riding gloves.
For more information on the CSIO 4* WEF, and full results, visit pbiec.coth.com.