Canadian riders ready to impress at Spruce Meadows
Lamaze, Foster showing off new horses
The National, the opening tournament of the 2013 Spruce Meadows Summer Series, is underway at the world-class Calgary equestrian facility.
CBC Sports and CBCSports.ca will have coverage from the event, featuring the CN Reliability Grand Prix, the ATCO Structures and Logistics Cup, and the Nexen Derby.
CBC at Spruce Meadows
You can watch The National at the following times:
- June 8: CN Reliability Grand Prix, 4 p.m. ET, CBC-TV, CBCSports.ca
- June 9: ATCO Cup, 3 p.m. ET, CBC-TV, CBCSports.ca
- June 9: Nexen Derby, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBCSports.ca
- June 16: Nexen Derby, 1 p.m. ET, CBC-TV
Here's a look at the Canadian riders who finished second in team competition at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Wellington, Fla., earlier this year, all who are competing at the National.
Canadian success at the National this year may come with an assist from Pius Schwizer. The Swiss horseman and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist in the past weeks has sold a trio of horses to Artisan Farms — two to be ridden by Eric Lamaze and another claimed for Tiffany Foster.
Fans of the sport are eager to see what the new mounts will be able to achieve with their skilled Canadian riders against the best competition in the world.
Legendary rider Ian Millar of Perth, Ont., shared some of the characteristics of what makes an elite Grand Prix horse with CBC Sports.
"They have to be fast, they have to be able to jump high and wide and do it very quickly and be very, very careful," he said.
"In today's modern sport, a horse has to be a real go-er, because every jump-off gets blisteringly fast," Millar added.
The American-born rider out of King City, Ont., was part of Canada's silver medal team at the 2008 Beijing Games. He also represented Canada in the 1996 Olympics.
Cone, 60, will be competing at Spruce this week with Unanimous and Amor van de Rostal.
He rode Amor van de Rostal, a 13-year-old gelding, to a ninth place showing in the Friends of the Meadows Cup event on Wednesday.
The Vancouver native is looking for a strong 2013 campaign after the crushing disappointment at the Olympics last year. She was in London but did not compete in the individual jumping at the 2012 Summer Games because Victor failed a leg sensitivity test.
Foster rode Victor to her first major victory, at the TD Cup at Spruce Meadows in 2011.
The 11-year-old Dutch gelding is still competing — showing the vagaries of the Olympic rules — and Foster took Southwind VDL on a clear ride of the opening day of competition this week, and finished fifth in the Friends of the Meadows Cup competition.
Foster, a trainer at Lamaze's Torrey Pines stable, is also getting the feel of Verdi III, an 11-year-old Dutch warmblood obtained from Schwizer.
Lamaze, and the equestrian world, were rocked by the sudden death of Hickstead in late 2011. Lamaze and Hickstead had achieved the world No. 1 ranking and were victorious in individual show jumping at Beijing.
The 45-year-old from Schomberg, Ont., is excited about the prospects of the other two horses from Schwizer, Powerplay and Quelmec du Gery.
Lamaze also posted a jumping victory in Belgium in April aboard Wang Chung, a horse purchased in early 2012.
Lamaze has won the CN Reliability Grand Prix at the National in 2008 and 2010.
Miller, 66, has been far from a feelgood story in recent years.
His perfect ride on In Style in 2008 helped Canada into a jump-off for team gold, with the resultant silver the first Olympic medal of his career.
He captured the CN Grand Prix a year later at Spruce.
At the 2012 London Games, he made a world record 10th Olympic appearance. He was the top Canadian in individual jumping, in a tie for ninth.
And just last week, Millar rode 10-year-old gelding Dixson to victory in competition in Rockwood, Ont. Dixson is related to the renowned horse Millar rode for over two decades, Big Ben
With files from The Canadian Press