The Canadian Show Jumping team finished fourth in the Longines Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) Jumping Nations Cup™ USA on May 14, 2023. The inaugural event held on Mother’s Day at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, California was the second of three Nations’ Cups being contested in North America this season.

Hosted by Blenheim Equisports, the CSIO 5* event challenged the three North American teams of the four participating nations of Mexico, the United States, Canada and Ireland, to compete for points towards qualification for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona later this year. This provides Team Canada with a further opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“Great compliments to our hosts here on the west coast in San Juan Capistrano,” said chef d’équipe Ian Millar. “It was first rate, it was a proper CSIO 5* and our congratulations to the sponsors, the organizing committee and everyone involved.”

Ending the competition in fourth place, the Canadians earned an additional 70 points in their fight for a spot in the Nations Cup final in Barcelona, Spain. Team USA put on a strong showing, with veteran Olympian McLain Ward posting the only double clear performance over the Leopoldo Palacios track resulting in a win for the USA.

“Good fortune was not with us,” shared Millar about the day’s result. “Going into today’s competition we had to replace two of our horses due to very minor injuries. That meant we did not lead with our best horse and rider combinations. Regardless of that, all four riders did their very best. It was an extremely difficult course with only one double clear.”

Beth Underhill and Nikka VD Bisschop jumping a water jump.

Anchor Beth Underhill and Nikka VD Bisschop had the best result for Canada. (Kim Gaudry photo)

Lead rider Erynn Ballard from Tottenham, ON aboard the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Narcotique v/h Dingenshof (Harley VDL x Chacco-Blue) owned by Esperanza Imports LLC and Ilan Ferder came back after a first round score of 12 faults and posted a very improved four fault effort in the second round.

In his second Nations Cup, 20-year-old Sam Walker of Nobleton, ON rode Nalu Quality (Numero Uno x Con Air) a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Forest Hill Farm. Following a first round score of 12, they came back in the second to put eight faults on the scoreboard.

Riding Freaky (Darco x Litho X) the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding she co-owns with Team Eye Candy, Jacqueline Steffens Daly from Harriston, ON Produced a eight fault performance in the first round, followed by nine faults in the second round.

Anchoring the team, veteran Beth Underhill clearly showed her skills with her World Championship mount Nikka VD Bisschop (Emerol NOP x Nabab de Reve) a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by the Rein Family LLC. In the first round, Beth and Nikka produced a four fault round in a slower time earning two time faults. Coming back in the second, they had a fault at the wall element at fence 10 resulting in a four fault effort.

“We earned some very useful points today that are a key part of this Nations Cup series for the team,” maintained Millar. “I want to thank our owners, our supporters of Team Canada, our grooms, the whole team so very much. Everyone did their best; it just wasn’t going to be our day.”

With the margin increasing between the three North American teams, following the second leg of the Longines North America Series, scores are as follows: USA 200, MEX 170 and CAN 150. The chase continues on the road to the Barcelona final. Next up for the Canadians will be the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Canada on June 4, 2023, at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, British Columbia where they hope to have hometown advantage.

“In Langley,” said Millar, “We are coming at the other teams with our A-squad and I predict a win.”

Results from the FEI Jumping Nations Cup USA here.

More info/standings here.