The first round consisted of 17 fences and 12 combinations and was a true test of stamina, skill, and bravery for both horses and riders. It was third in the ring, Angelie Von Essen, who produced the first clear round of the class with her Selle Francais gelding Alcapone des Carmille. At the halfway mark, only four riders had finished the course faultless, including home favourite Tiffany Foster, aboard Figor (VDL Groep Zagreb x Indoctro) who set the ‘International Ring’ alight with a foot-perfect round.

Disappointment came for the newly crowned FEI European Champion and 2021 winner of the class, Steve Guerdat, who was one of 10 riders in the class who faulted at fence 12. Shocks also came as some of the class favourites did not proceed to the second round including World No.4 Ben Maher, winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Scott Brash, and Dutch rider Harrie Smolders.

With the 12 top riders from the opening round proceeding into the next round, those who could produce a fast-four fault round would stay in contention for one of the sport’s most coveted prizes. Such riders included Canada’s Erynn Ballard and Egypt’s Nayel Nassar. In total, five riders cleared the technical course, including Rolex Testimonee Martin Fuchs who impressively jumped a portion of the course with only one stirrup after a huge jump from Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland, breeder: G.M. van Mersbergen) over the Canadian flag planks 

After a short break, the sold-out crowds waited with bated breath to welcome these incredible combinations back into the sun-bathed arena. Combinations returned in reverse order from the first round, with any combinations that tied on scores after this round proceeding to the jump-off. Only one rider on four faults from the opening round put pressure on those who carried forward zero faults, this was Mexico’s Andres Azcarraga, who looked pure class, breezing the course inside the time limit of 77 seconds. To the delight and cheers of the fans, Tiffany Foster was first to jump a double clear, and set the standard for the remaining three riders. Rolex Testimonee, Martin Fuchs, a double Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major winner ensured that there would be a jump-off, meanwhile heartbreak came for the last to enter the arena, Fuchs’ fellow Testimonee Bertram Allen aboard Pacino Amiro (Pacino x NC Amiro), who faulted at CPKC triple, meaning that just two would jump-off.

Anticipation was heavy in the air with Canadian fans hoping to have their first home victory since Captin Canada’s [Ian Millar] victory in 2014. Foster produced a respectable round with just one down in a time of 44.45 seconds. As the striking grey, Leone Jei, walked through the clock-tower you could hear a pin drop. The Swiss rider flew across the ‘International Ring’, with the scopey grey showing all of this talent, to cross the finish line clear in a time of 43.58 seconds and take the victory in this prestigious class.

Speaking of his victory, Fuchs commented: “It is unbelievable to win here at this historical show – I have always wanted to win this class. My dad competed here a number of times and never won. He told me that I would have to win for us both and I am so pleased that I have been able to do so!”

The new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, continued: “Leone Jei is incredible – he is such an amazing horse with so much talent! I have always thought he was the horse that could win this Grand Prix. It has been a perfect end to a perfect week! I haven’t had a single fault on any of my horses this week – it has been a dream come true.”

The Rolex Testimonee added: “He [Leone Jei] jumped incredibly in the first round – so well that he jumped me out of the saddle over the Canadian flag planks, and I lost my left rein and stirrup. I tried hard to get my stirrup back but had to jump three or fences before I could get it back. After the first round we had a discussion about changing his bit as he was so keen, but my dad told me that we shouldn’t do this and that I should just ride better!”