Two-time Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster and her veteran partner, Victor, emerged victorious in the $86,000 CSI5* 1.50m Suncast Classic on Sunday, March 12, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Ireland’s Alan Wade set the track in the International Arena, which saw ten horse-and-rider combinations jump clear from the original 51-horse starting field. As the eighth rider to tackle the jump-off course, Foster used her long-time partnership with Victor to her advantage, stopping the clock in 36.82 seconds to take the win over two-time Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward of the United States. Ward crossed the timers in 37.56 riding Tina la Boheme while fellow American Olympian Laura Kraut was third in a time of 38.75 seconds riding Constable.

“Going late in the order is always an advantage in the jump-off,” said Foster, 32, of North Vancouver, BC. “McLain went right before me, and I knew the only way I could beat him was to take a risk and be faster to the last jump. I have huge trust and confidence in my horse and knew he could get there. I gave it a try, and I know the horse so well and he knows me, so it all worked out!”

Remarkably, 2017 marks the eighth season that Foster has been partnered with Victor, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and 2008 Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze’s Torrey Pine Stable. In fact, Foster had not even planned to enter Sunday’s $86,000 CSI5* 1.50m Suncast Classic until Andy Ziegler encouraged her.

“My plan this week was for Victor to only jump in the WEF class on Thursday, but then I had a time fault and was so mad at myself,” explained Foster, who was one of five riders to jump Thursday’s $130,000 WEF Challenge Cup course clear only to be caught by the clock. “It wasn’t my plan to go again on Sunday, but Andy said I think you should do it and win it. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so he gets full credit for this win!

“They are the best owners in the world, and it’s nice to be able to do well when they are here,” continued Foster, noting that both Andy and Carlene Ziegler were in attendance for Sunday’s win. “They never put too much pressure on us, and I think it makes us try even harder for them. I was really happy that Victor and I could deliver on a day when they were both here.”

The partnership between Foster and Victor has produced strong results throughout the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival, which still has three more weeks of competition to go. The pair also jumped double clear for the third-placed Canadian team in the $100,000 FEI Nations’ Cup at CSIO4* HITS in Ocala, FL, on February 17.

In addition to Victor, Foster is developing a string of promising up-and-coming grand prix horses for Artisan Farms, including the ten-year-old Cadalora P and the nine-year-old Caipiranja.

“I have a lot of nice young horses, and it’s great to develop them here,” said Foster of being based in one location for an extended period of time. “When they go in and do a good job, you feel a sense of accomplishment that they are on the right track.”

Foster will continue to compete at the Winter Equestrian Festival, which concludes April 2, before relocating to Artisan Farms’ European base in Belgium for the spring season.