The Canadian Show Jumping Team finished second in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico held on Sunday, March 20, to close out CSIO5* Coapexpan, Mexico.
Three countries contested the annual event with a three-member Canadian team comprised of Tiffany Foster, Jacqueline Steffens, and Beth Underhill taking on Mexico and the United States. Having suffered two eliminations when Maria Costa fell from Valentino V Z and Tanner Korotkin had two refusals with Volo’s Diamond, the United States was eliminated and could not return for the second round. That left Mexico and Canada to battle it out for top spot on the podium.
Mexico had the edge with a clear scoresheet following the opening round when three of its four riders posted clears, allowing the four faults incurred by Nicolas Pizarro riding Pia Contra to be dropped from the team tally. Without the advantage of a drop score, Canada was sitting on 12 faults but, with a second round of competition still to come, had an opportunity to make up lost ground and came back fighting.
Lead-off rider Beth Underhill, 59, of Mulmer, ON, got the Canadian side off to a strong start in the opening round with a clear effort from Chacco Kid. In the second round, the Canadian Olympian and the 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On) owned by the Chacco Kid Group, dropped a rail at the last element of the triple combination, set as an oxer-vertical-oxer by Mexican course designer Anderson Lima.
Making her Canadian Show Jumping Team debut, Jacqueline Steffens of Harriston, ON, posted a first-round score of eight faults after having rails at the ‘b’ and ‘c’ elements of the triple combination. The 28-year-old rookie returned to deliver a clear for Canada the second time out riding Freaky, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Darco x Litho X) owned by Steffens in partnership with Team Eye Candy.
Riding Hamilton in the horse’s first Nations’ Cup appearance, Foster, 37, of Langley, BC, acted as the Canadian team anchor. The two-time Olympian was close to home when a rail fell at the penultimate fence in the first round. Coming back for round two, Hamilton, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Quadros 3 x Acolord) owned by The Hamilton Group, touched the rail at ‘b’ in the triple combination to post another four faults for Canada.
Adding the 12 faults incurred in the opening round with the eight picked up in the second, Canada had a final score of 20 faults. While Mexico had been clear at the half-way point, things were not as picture perfect in the second round with 12 faults to be counted. A double clear effort from Patricio Pasquel and Babel, the only double clear performance of the day, kept Mexico at the top of the leaderboard and helped give former Canadian team Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin of Langley, BC, his first win with the Mexican team.
Acting as Chef d’Equipe of the Canadian Show Jumping Team for the second time since being appointed to the position in February, Eric Lamaze’s all-female squad once again finished second, having also finished runner-up among 11 countries in the Nations’ Cup held in Wellington, FL, two weeks earlier.
“It was a good team effort,” said Lamaze, the 2008 Olympic show jumping champion. “Whenever you go with three riders, you need three strong-minded riders and three dependable horses. We took a big chance and came here with three riders and ended up bringing some young horses and riders. Mexico had their ‘A’ team and to be second to them shows a strong team effort.”
Lamaze analyzed the Canadian team performance by saying, “To see Jacqueline start out with eight and come back and have a clear round was fantastic. Beth continues to be a strong member of our team and maybe the first time Tiffany had a rail it was rider error, but the second four faults was unlucky; it was well-ridden, and the rail was barely touched. In Florida, I felt like we let it slip away and this time we came back to get it.
“All in all, it was a good performance,” he concluded. “The day wasn’t ours, but we lost to a Mexican team made up of their best riders. We continue another step in our journey forward.”
The Mexican feature heralded the start of the North and Central America and Caribbean League which sees the top two teams following qualifying events head to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain, from September 29 to October 2, 2022. Following the cancellation of the U.S. leg of the league due to complications arising from EHV-1, only the third and final qualifying event in Langley, BC, remains on the competition calendar. Canada will be looking for a win on home soil when the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada comes to Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC, from May 31 to June 5, 2022.
For full results from CSIO5* Coapexpan, Mexico, held from March 16 to 20, 2022, click here.