Steve Guerdat can now scratch one more item off his to-do list.

The Swiss rider, for years among the finest show jumpers in the world, added a new victory to his lengthy list – the $2.5-million CP International grand prix, the feature event of the 2021 Spruce Meadows Masters tournament.

“It’s a helluva feeling,” said Guerdat, who was No. 1 on the FEI rider rankings earlier this year but recently slipped to 10. “It’s a class since I’m a little kid I’ve always been dreaming of winning. I’ve walked every year 100 times in front of the wall with the winners’ names on it; I always thought I’m not going to quit riding until my name is up there. It’s one of the nicest days in my career. For sure, a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

On Sunday, Guerdat and his 12-year-old mount Venard de Cerisy posted two clear rounds, the only combination to do so, thrilling the small number of fans allowed in the stands.

“His mind is unbelievable,” Guerdat said of his horse. “We bought him when he was seven years old, he was jumping in France, and if you see our first two years together, I don’t think anybody would have put a penny on us winning a grand prix like this one. But he’s been unbelievable the last three years now. He’s been giving me so much that I’m really happy for him today that I can give him this win and so he will stay in the history books.”

Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina were top Canadians in 5th place. (Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk)

Guerdat now becomes contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping bonus. The next show in the series is Aachen next weekend.

The course, set by the Spruce Meadows designing fixture Leopoldo Palacios, presented its share of difficulties for many riders, including a gnarly water jump that caught a number of horses. Kent Farrington of the U.S. and Gazelle were one such tandem and those four faults led to their second-place finish.

Third spot went to fellow American McLain Ward and Kasper van Het Hellehof, the other four-faulters. The top Canadian finisher was Mario Deslauriers with his Olympic mount Bardolina 2, in fifth spot.

“I didn’t really mind what the course was going to be like,” Guerdat pointed out. “We had a good first round and a much better second round. To be honest, he felt like he could have gone for a third round, the way he was feeling. I’m so proud of the horse today.”

BMO Nations Cup

The weather, unseasonably sunny and warm for the first week and a half of the September Series, threatened to revert to its predictable cool and wet. But the rain held off on Sunday, while Saturday’s BMO Nations’ Cup was contested under sunny skies. Canada, with two teams entered, won the competition for the first time since 2014, bettering three other nations.

Canada 1 – which included Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5, Tiffany Foster and Northern Light, Amy Millar and Truman and Erynn Ballard and Jack Van’T Kattenheye – finished the two-round event with a total of nine faults.

The U.S. squad, anchored by Ward and HH Azur, was second with 15 faults, while Canada 2, featuring Deslauriers, Samantha Buirs-Darvill, Ben Asselin and Brian Morton, was third with 16.

“You have to have structure and have a good plan and execute it,” explained Canada’s chef d’equipe Mark Laskin, who watched the eight Canadians closely for future reference. “Project ahead and work backwards. It’s a shorter cycle this time around but we have to get at it immediately. Obviously, next year the world championship is a qualifier for the Olympics. It would be really fantastic to qualify there because then it allows us to sort of settle and not force us to go to places that we might not think are the best preparation for the Olympics in Paris.

Go team! Tiffany Foster, Erynn Ballard and Mark Laskin look on. (Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk)

“That’s our goal. It started today. These riders are all that calibre and we just have to have the right horses in places. Put one foot in front of the other and do it the right way and I’m confident that we’ll be successful.”

For Lamaze, it was his final time taking the 18-year-old mare Fine Lady 5 around the International Ring and she responded like the true champ she is, going clear in the first round. The two were not called upon to go in the second round.

“Spruce Meadows is very big for us to win,” the veteran rider admitted, “but you have to stay on a winning streak. If you keep a winning streak, regardless if it’s in Wellington, Florida, or a three-star in Europe, Canada has to be there. We have to feel like we belong, put a solid team together and if you start that three-year journey, there’s a very good chance we could get to Paris and do something. If you start like winners, usually you can finish as a winner.”

Of Fine Lady 5, he added: “I can think of so many wins here. It was so emotional for me, leaving the arena with her today. I felt she was in form for it.”

Many of the top riders taking part in the Masters will now head to CHIO Aachen; others will remain at Spruce Meadows for the third and final tournament in the September Series, the North American.