Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, anchored the Canadian Show Jumping Team with a clear round on Tuesday, August 16, to qualify Canada for Wednesday’s Team Final at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A total of 15 nations started the first round of team competition with the top eight advancing to Wednesday’s Team Final. Brazil, Germany, The Netherlands and the United States are all on a perfect score of zero, followed by France carrying one fault, Canada with four faults, and Sweden and Switzerland tied on eight faults heading into the second and final round of team competition. With only two rails separating the top eight countries, and Brazil and The Netherlands down to three riders, the Team Final will leave no margin of error for those nations hoping to stand on the medal podium at the conclusion of Wednesday’s competition.
“We are very happy to be in this position,” said Lamaze, who led Canada to the team silver before claiming individual gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “We are only four faults away from the leaders, and anything is possible.”
2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5, owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable, jumped clear to secure Canada’s place in the Team Final at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst Photography
Yann Candele, 45, of Caledon, ON, was the lead-off rider for Canada and posted a pivotal clear round riding First Choice 15, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (For Keeps x Angard) owned by the Watermark Group.
Lead-off rider Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, and First Choice 15, owned by the Watermark Group, posted a crucial clear round for Canada. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst Photography
“That’s my position, go first and try to put in a good score,” said Candele, who was a member of Canada’s gold medal team at the 2015 Pan American Games, riding alongside Lamaze and Tiffany Foster. “I’m very pleased with that, it was a good start for everyone. It’s great for me, and for the whole team.”
Foster, 32, of North Vancouver, BC, was next in the order for Canada, and incurred four faults when her mount Tripple X III, a 14-year-old Anglo European stallion (Namelus R x Cantango) owned by Andy and Carlene’s Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable, edged a brick off the wall at fence 12.
Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, BC, and Tripple X III, owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst Photography
“I thought I was clear when I went through the timers; I had no idea I had even rubbed that let alone knocked it down,” said Foster, who is making her second consecutive Olympic appearance. “I thought he jumped unbelievable, he felt so good. I feel really fortunate to have him, and I have to thank Andy and Carlene Ziegler for horses like this. You honestly don’t think there is a jump he can’t jump, and it’s great when you feel that way at the Olympic Games. I have huge confidence in my horse.”
Amy Millar, 39, of Perth, ON, had a rail down at fence 11 for four faults and also picked up one time fault for exceeding the time allowed of 81 seconds, bringing her score to five faults riding Heros, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Canadian River x Clinton) owned by AMMO Investments.
Amy Millar of Perth, ON, and Heros, owned by AMMO Investments. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst Photography
The pressure was on Lamaze to produce a clear round with Fine Lady 5, which would allow Canada to drop Millar’s five faults and only count the four posted by Foster.
“We were off to a good start with Yann’s opening round,” said Lamaze, recounting Team Canada’s performance. “Then Tiffany had a beautiful round and was extremely unlucky at the wall; she rode it well and it was just bad luck to have it down. Amy lost her reins at one point which I think distracted her a bit, and that left me in the position of having to go clear to keep us in the hunt.”
Currently ranked the number ten show jumping rider in the world, Lamaze delivered a masterful clear well inside the time allowed, stopping the clock in 76.32 seconds with Fine Lady 5, a 13-year-old bay Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Artisan Farms in partnership with his Torrey Pines Stable. With a total of four faults, Canada safely qualified for the Team Final.
“She felt great, we had a fantastic warm-up, she was very settled, and I had my plan,” said Lamaze. “I didn’t feel like she was looking to make a mistake; if there was an error, it was going to be mine. I was a little worried about the water with so many having problems there, but she gave me a great effort.”
The track set by course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil produced a total of 21 clear rounds from the starting field of 69 riders, with the open water proving to be influential in the final results.
“To be honest, the course on the opening day rode harder than this one today,” said Lamaze, referencing the first round of qualifying competition held on Sunday, August 14, where he and Fine Lady 5 posted the fastest clear round. “I was expecting more course today, but with some less experienced nations competing in the team event, the course designer was really thinking about the horses and kept it civilized. At the end of the day, you still have to put clear rounds on the board. Tomorrow, I think we will see a different competition.”
Canada now carries its four faults forward to Wednesday’s Team Final. Athletes still in the hunt individually will compete first, followed by the top eight teams. Competition begins at 10 a.m. local time.
Individually, all four Canadian Show Jumping team members are still in the game, with Lamaze tied for first place on a perfect score of zero, Candele tied for 15th with a score of four faults, Millar tied for 26th with five faults, and Foster tied for 30th with eight faults. The top 35 riders, limited to three per nation, in the standings following Wednesday’s Team Final will qualify for the two-round Individual Final on Friday, August 19. All participants will begin the Individual Final on a score of zero, with the top 20 moving forward to the second round where individual medals will be decided.
For more information on the equestrian events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, visit www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-schedule-and-results