Lauren Esdale (Seagrave, ON) captured the biggest win of her career Sunday afternoon at the International Bromont, guiding Viamdios D’Avril (aka ‘Ted’) to the win in the $45,900 FEI CSI2* 1.45m Grand Prix presented by the Government of Quebec.

Of the 14 combinations to attempt the challenging course set by Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela, only three were able to successfully qualify to return for a jump-off. First in the ring, Alexanne Thibault (Boucherville, QC) with Cidano Z, followed by Francois Lamontagne (Saint-Eustache, QC) with Thunderbird VH Scheefkasteel and finally Esdale.

Both Lamontagne and Thibault are ‘Elite’ members of the Programme de soutien au développement de l’excellence, organized by the sport ministry of Quebec and sport federations, to support and nurture the development and progression of athletes to reach the highest level of their sport.

Fences fell over the length of the course, but none more frequently than the dreaded bicycle jump at fence 9, modelled after the infamous original from Spruce Meadows, which came from the second World Equestrian Games in the Hague, Netherlands (1994) and has been keeping riders up at night ever since.

Set on a tight left-hand roll-back in front of two hillsides full of spectators, exactly 50% of the field were unable to clear it. Those who did elicited anything from polite applause to downright cheers by the end of the first round. Thankfully it did not make an appearance in the jump-off.

Last to enter the ring for the short course, Esdale had watched both Thibault and Lamontagne’s rounds, each lowering one rail to finish on jumping scores of four faults. She knew “all” she had to do was produce a clean round with Ted to capture her first FEI Grand Prix win.

“I definitely knew I wanted to go for the win today,” exclaimed Esdale following the presentations. “With only three in [the jump off] that’s good odds! It’s always interesting to be the last to go – realizing you ‘only’ need a clear to win. In some cases I think that makes it almost a bit more nerve wracking!

“All I had to do was jump clean. I tried to keep a bit on-the-pace in case I had an early rail — I knew I would make up on the time. When I came to the last fence and I was still going clean, I saw [a long spot] and thought no, I better not today! Luckily it paid off and I couldn’t be happier.”

Esdale and Ted have been partnered togeher for nearly three years, and seem well matched with bubbly and energetic personalities. Esdale explained that Ted draws from the atmosphere and crowds, especially at the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park with its amphitheatre design.

“Ted is always pretty excited, he loves his job and loves to jump.” Esdale replied when asked about a few displays of exuberance shown on course by Ted today. “I wasn’t expecting there to be so many people here today. You got in the ring and the crowd was cheering! He was definitely being a little expressive about how excited he was. Then the crowd would cheer and I think that just egged him on

Esdale and Ted posted a fault-free jump-off round stopping the clock in a conservative 50.19 seconds, well behind Lamontagne and Thunderbird’s four-fault round in 43.10, and that of Thibault and Cidanos Z’s in 43.19.

Sunday’s FEI Grand Prix wrapped up two weeks of FEI CSI2* at the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park, marking the return of FEI competitions since before Covid. Over 600 horses competed for over $350,000 in prize money across hunter, jumper, equitation and young horse sections (including everyone’s favourite the Canine-Equine Challenge.) You can watch Sunday’s action from the International ring on the event’s Facebook page under “previous Facebook Live videos.”

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$45,900 CSI2* 1.45m Grand Prix presented by the Government of Quebec

1. Viamdios D’Avril / Lauren Esdale / CAN / 0/0/50.19
2. Thunderbird VH Scheefkasteel / Francois Lamontagne / CAN / 0/4/43.10
3. Cidanos Z / Alexanne Thibault / CAN / 0/4/43.19
4. Ella V/D Helle / Nicolas Bayzelon / CAN / 4/75.58
5. Phil V/D Wezelse Heihoeve / David Arcand / CAN / 4/77.85
6. Conny 409 / Kama Godek / USA / 4/79.32
7. Donner / Peter Leone / USA / 4/80.64
8. Zambia Z / Maude Filiatrault / CAN / 4/83.55