Wednesday: Elena Haas wins 1.50m

An overjoyed Elena Haas of the USA celebrated winning Wednesday’s Friends of the Meadows 1.50m at the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ ahead of Thursday’s qualifier for Saturday’s Grand Prix, where the 21-year-old is aiming to top the podium after a near-miss on the weekend.

Haas, originally from Oakland, California, came second to Matthew Sampson (GBR) in Sunday’s Pan American Cup Grand Prix.

Tomorrow, Haas will have a double shot at possible Grand Prix glory, with two horses entered into the Jayman Built Cup qualifier in anticipation of Saturday’s ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup Grand Prix, the biggest event of the Spruce Meadows Summer Series.

“We definitely have our eyes set on the Queen Elizabeth Cup,” said Haas, who will compete tomorrow with Westphalian gelding Claude, as well as Belgian Warmblood Koss Van Heiste.

“It’s the class I’ve looked forward to jumping for a long time, so hopefully we’ll get a shot at it.

“Hopefully all goes well with the qualifier tomorrow. We’ll be in good form for that.”

This evening all of Haas’s praise went to today’s champion Irish Sport Horse Ogue Bt Special, who only began competing in CSI5* events last month, during the ‘National’, presented by Rolex.

“I felt very much in rhythm with him today,” Haas said. “He’s been jumping great here.

“I felt confident to go out and give it our all today. I’m so thrilled with how he jumped.

“He delivered for sure.”

Haas and Ogue Bt Special completed today’s 540m course, thought up by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela, in 70.73 seconds.

Second-place finisher Lillie Keenan, also of the USA, ended the 12-obstacle, 14-effort course in 73.16s, while Amy Millar (CAN) and Christiano came third at 74.73s.


A horse and rider jumping a fence at Spruce Meadows.

Elena Haas (USA) narrowly missed out on back-to-back 5* victories, coming second in the Jayman BUILT Cup with Claude after Wednesday’s triumph in the Friends of the Meadows 1.50m with Ogue Bt Special. (Spruce Meadows Media/Tony Lewis)

Thursday: US riders take first and second in Jayman BUILT Cup

It was a sea of red, white, and blue as Americans Nicholas Dello Joio, on Cornet’s Cambridge, and Elena Haas, with Claude, came first and second in today’s Fourth of July Jayman BUILT Cup.

The 1.55m International Ring competition — the qualifier for this summer’s biggest Grand Prix event on Saturday — started with 64 but was whittled down to just nine jump-off finalists, with Mexico’s Patricio Pasquel and Chakkalou PS arriving third. Top Canadian in the class was Vanessa Mannix riding Kingston, 7th.

The top 40 riders from today’s event will advance to the ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup, where Dello Joio will follow the same advice his show jumping legend father, Norman, gave him today, for guiding Cornet’s Cambridge.

“Dad was basically like, you know, put him in drive and keep him in cruise control,” Dello Joio, 35, said.

“He loves galloping on that big open field. I mean, especially in the second round, he didn’t really have to try. You just kind of turn him loose at his own natural pace.

“He’s big but he moves like a thoroughbred. It’s unbelievable for such a big horse. He’s so light on his feet, which makes him catlike in those jump-offs.

“He’s fast enough without any gas on the fire.”

Dello Joio, who is back in top form following surgeries on both hips and his groin just last year, planned to mark his Fourth of July win sensibly.

He said: “No celebrating tonight. We’ll be back out here tomorrow morning. We’ve got another big day ahead.”

But there was room for a little fun, as Dello Joio made a cheeky dig at his Canadian hosts, referring to last month’s Edmonton Oilers loss in the Stanley Cup finals.

“I think between this and the Panthers winning the Cup, I’m pretty happy being up here in Canada,” said Dello Joio, who is from Wellington, Florida.

He will be joined on Saturday by a host of world-class riders including Canadians Vanessa Mannix, Ben Asselin, Amy Millar, Mario Deslauriers, and Tiffany Foster.

Complete results HERE.