Show jumping competition returns to Thunderbird Show Park this week with the Fort Classic, the first rated show of tbird’s 2020 summer season. Canadian Olympian and perennial fan favourite Tiffany Foster raced to a decisive victory aboard her veteran partner, Brighton, in the $5,000 Maui Jim Welcome 1.45m, while Jenna Lee Gottschlich (CAN) and Aladin de Brimbelles laid claim to the $5,000 U25 1.40m.

The Fort Classic is an Equestrian Canada Gold rated show, featuring $75,000 in prize money. Highlights of the week include Friday’s $5,000 U25 1.40m and $5,000 Maui Jim Welcome 1.45m along with Sunday’s $40,000 ATCO Cup.

Of the 21 combinations to contest Canadian course designer Peter Holmes’ track, only six managed to navigate the first round without fault. Foster and Brighton were the class pathfinders as the first pair in the ring and the first clear effort. The Pan American team gold medalist went on to master the track with two more of her four mounts, but opted to save both Northern Light and Hamilton for Sunday’s $40,000 ATCO Cup.

Tapping speed specialist Brighton for the jump-off, Foster returned first in the order once again, a draw that worked to her advantage.

“Sometimes with me, with this horse, it’s better to go first because I don’t have any preconceived notions that you don’t have to go fast,” she explained. “I just went as fast as I could, I had a little slip in one corner that didn’t set up that next line the way that I wanted it to, but he’s an older and experienced horse. He was able to salvage it for me a bit at the double.”

The speedy pair crossed the timers in 42.45 seconds. Four more combinations chased their time. Kyle King (USA) and Enzo came closest, stopping the clock at 42.58 seconds but caught a rail at the double to finish in fourth. Samantha Buirs-Darvill (CAN) and Baton Rouge took second with a double clear in 46.40 seconds and Ben Asselin (CAN) and Veyron, third with a fault-free effort in 46.48.

Friday’s victory is the latest in a long list for the seven-year partnership. Foster and Brighton won the CSIO5* $36,500 Artisan Farms Nations Welcome at tbird’s Odlum Brown BC Open in May 2019, their last appearance at Foster’s home venue. More recently, the pair collected back to back 1.50m wins in Florida this winter before competition was put on hiatus due to COVID-19.

“He’s won a lot everywhere! He’s just an awesome horse who’s very experienced and we just know each other really well. If you pull him out and tell him that it’s a day you want him to win, then he usually does,” she smiled.

$5,000 Maui Jim Welcome 1.45m

Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Brighton / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms / 0/0 42.45
2. Baton Rouge / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / 0/0 46.40
3. Veyron / Ben Asselin / CAN / Attache Stables / 0/0 46.48
4. Enzo / Kyle King / USA / Seabright Investment Consultants / 0/4 42.58

Jenna Lee Gottschlich and Aladin des Brimbelles fly to victory in the $5,000 U25 1.40m

The 2020 U25 League kicked off at the Fort Classic with an efficient win by Alberta’s Jenna Lee Gottschlich and Aladin des Brimbelles.

Some 19 horse-and-rider combinations contested Peter Holmes’ track in the $5,000 U25 1.40m, with six advancing to the jump off. Last to go over the short track, Gottschlich and the 10-year-old Selle Francais flew to victory, racing through the timers in 45.90 seconds. Kassidy Keith (CAN) and Havana took second. Makayla Barta and Cohinoor 4, third.

Aladin des Brimbelles is a new mount for the Edmonton-based rider. Previously campaigned by France’s Cedric Hurel, Gottschlich took over ownership of the bay gelding in January this year. They began competing together in February and also experimenting with his tack.

“He tends to get tense with a noseband, if his mouth is shut,” explained Gottschlich, who trains with Canadian Olympian Lisa Carlsen. “So we tried him without the noseband [while competing] in California [this winter] and he just stuck his head out and said, ‘Okay.’”

Friday’s $5,000 U25 marks their second ever 1.40m performance.

“He just comes alive in the ring. He’s not a fan of the warm up ring, but in the show ring there’s never a moment of hesitation with him. My strategy in the jump off was just to go clean and stay on,” she laughed, adding: “My trainer said, ‘Come out with your head on.’”

$5,000 U25 1.40m

Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner

1. Aladin des Brimbelles / Jenna Lee Gottschlich / CAN / Jenna Lee Gottschlich
2. Havana / Kassidy Keith / CAN / Cheryl Keith
3. Cohinoor 4 / Makayla Barta / CAN / Makayla Barta
4. Atena de L’Ermitage / Carly Stevens / CAN / Grant & Susie Stevens
5. Caesar A / Emily Fitzgerald / CAN / Emily Fitzgerald
6. Lestat Old / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt
7. VIP des Majuros / Carly Stevens / CAN / Grant & Susie Stevens
8. Dento / Carly Stevens / CAN / Grant & Susie Stevens
9. Monchiniquie / Christine Carlsen / USA / Valhalla Equestrian
10. Viva La Vida / Cassie Gorsline / CAN / Lisa Carlsen

Show jumping continues at Thunderbird Show Park through Sunday at the Fort Classic and with next week’s Fort Festival, August 19–23, 2020. Tune in daily for wall-to-wall livestream coverage from the Fort Grand Prix field on tbird TV, highlighted by the $40,000 ATCO Cup on Sunday, August 16 at 2:00pm PT and the $40,000 VOLVO CANADA Cup on August 23, 2020 at 2:00pm PT.