Canada claims CSIO4* Nations Cup at Wellington International

Canada claims  CSIO4* Nations Cup at Wellington International

Despite being on U.S. soil, Wellington International was brimming with Canadian pride on Saturday evening as the Canadian Show Jumping Team gave a dominating performance in the $150,000 CSIO4* Nations Cup, presented by IDA Development. Team members Erynn Ballard, Mario Deslauriers, Tiffany Foster and Beth Underhill were led by 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar in his debut as chef d’équipe.

Canada, Brazil and Ireland on the podium with Harry Knopp, Owner of IDA Development alongside Teresa and Lauren Knopp and Alex Pazzaglia. The Denis Quinlan Perpetual Memorial Trophy was presented to the chef d’équipe of the winning team, Ian Millar, by Michael Stone and Jenny Quinlan. Photo © Sportfot

Eleven teams, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Great Britain, Ireland, Mexico, the United States and Venezuela competed in the opening round earlier in the day, and the top eight returned for round two during ‘Saturday Night Lights.’ At the start of the second round, Brazil, Canada and Ireland were tied on eight faults apiece over a course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA).

“My plan was to try and jump another clear and lock it up,” said Deslauriers, who guided Emerson through the mount’s first Nations Cup experience. “He’s jumped some bigger tracks at Spruce [Meadows] on the field so he was very capable. I had high expectations so it’s a huge relief. I must thank my teammates and our chef d’équipe for a great night. Everybody rode well and it was a great win for us.”

“I think the Canadian audience are some of the best in the world. This nations cup almost feels like a home nations cup for us because it’s on North American soil and we have so many Canadians here in the winter,” said Foster, who rode Hamilton, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Quadros 3 and owned by the Hamilton Group. “Hamilton was a little green when we got him as an eight-year-old, so it’s been a process to get to know him. He’s mature now and he’s a reliable partner and teammate that I’m grateful to have for events like this.”

Underhill sat the second round out to preserve her team’s zero count, but noted their faith was high from the start. “I think we had great confidence and we really wanted to give it a good shot for a win, especially with our new leader, Ian Millar. I think all of us together are friends and have been for many years, so there’s been this great synergy and strength among us.”

Underhill rode in the irons of Nikka vd Bisschop, a 10-year-old Belgian-bred mare (Emerol NOP x Nabab de Reve) for the Rein Family.

Ballard and Gakhir, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Spartacus TN, owned by Esperanza Imports and Ilan Ferder, echoed Foster’s second-round clear to further her team’s lead. “This is my third year jumping in this class, but this was the first year I felt we had a great shot,” admitted Ballard. “Gakhir has proved that he keeps getting better and better. I think it’s his blood and ability to keep going round after round that has helped us be so consistent.”