Saturday, May. 18, 2024

Canadians And Dutch Take Top Honors In Madrid

The two countries are an ocean apart, but they had a lot in common in this five-star CSIO.

Even though the Canadians had a disappointing performance in the Nations Cup at the CSIO Madrid, Spain, May 15-18, won by the Netherlands, they made up for it in the $236,130 King’s Cup Grand Prix.

After 47 starters tackled Round 1, 11 riders qualified for the jump-off, including three of the four Canadian team members—Jill Henselwood/Special Ed, Eric Lamaze/Hickstead and Mac Cone/Ole.
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The two countries are an ocean apart, but they had a lot in common in this five-star CSIO.

Even though the Canadians had a disappointing performance in the Nations Cup at the CSIO Madrid, Spain, May 15-18, won by the Netherlands, they made up for it in the $236,130 King’s Cup Grand Prix.

After 47 starters tackled Round 1, 11 riders qualified for the jump-off, including three of the four Canadian team members—Jill Henselwood/Special Ed, Eric Lamaze/Hickstead and Mac Cone/Ole.

In the end, Henselwood and Special Ed, an Oldenburg gelding, took the top check in the Madrid, Spain, featured class, with a clear round in a blistering 33.24 seconds. Lamaze and his impressive Holsteiner stallion Hickstead finished just fractions behind with a clear round in 34.60 seconds.

Cone, aboard the Dutch Warmblood gelding Ole, had one pole down in the tiebreaker for 11th.

After fourth team member Ian Millar had won the 1.50 meter class on Thursday aboard In Style and other members the Canadian team had achieved several top placings, the Canadians had been considered a favorite in the Nations Cup.

Unfortunately, their 20 penalties in the first round prevented them from qualifying for Round 2, ranking ninth.

Millar, the Canadian team veteran and two-time FEI World Cup Champion, was proud of his Canadian team for their performances and also for qualifying for the Olympics in Hong Kong this
summer.

“We have a really good team together and, I guess, we have a real chance to win a medal,” he said.

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Over the four-day show, the national anthem of Canada had been played four times, twice for Lamaze, who had won on Thursday and on Sunday a 1.45 meter class with the Darco daughter Narcotique de Muse II.

With $236,130 donated by Volvo, the Nations Cup took on added importance Saturday evening, May 17, in front of tightly packed stands. The competition quickly became a tense, single-combat
battle between the Netherlands and Germany.

After the first round, in which 14 nations participated, seven (six plus the host nation Spain) were allowed
to compete in the second round. Germany had taken over the lead with no penalties.

Since Otto Becker, aboard the Holsteiner stallion Con Air, Max Kühner aboard the Bavarian stallion Acantus and Thomas Voss riding the Holsteiner gelding Leonardo, had achieved three clears, the 20 faults scored by Thomas Mühlbauer with the Oldenburg stallion Asti Spumante were scratched out.

The Netherlands and Great Britain shared second place with 4 faults.

For the Dutch quartet, Leon Thijssen, riding the Dutch Warmblood gelding Olaf, and Henk van de Pol aboard the Oldenburg gelding Dan 7-T, jumped clear, while Harrie Smolders and Exquis Oliver Q and Piet Raijmakers on Van Schijndel’s Rascin each had a rail.

In addition to Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain, France qualified for Round 2 as well as a
surprising Mexican team with 8 faults. Norway had 12, and Spain with 20 penalties had surpassed Ireland (16), but being the host country they were granted a place.

In the second round the Dutch riders showed their mettle with only one rail counting, a pole down from Raijmakers. Their 8-fault final score was good, but was it good enough?

The Dutch riders had to tremble, though, since as the second-to-last rider of the Dutch team, van de Pol and Dan 7-T were eliminated after two refusals. “He was completely irritated by something on the ground,” said his rider later.

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Smolders and Thijssen both achieved clear second rounds, however, and kept the Dutch in the hunt.
Germany just had to beat 8 faults to remain in the lead. But problems began to occur for the team. Becker, an Olympic and World Cup champion, dropped a rail with Con Air, while Kühner did the same with Akantus GK. Mühlbauer and Asti Spumante, the 20 faulters in Round 1, redeemed themselves for a clear contribution, but it wasn’t enough.

Voss and Leonardo, the winners of the GCT Grand Prix of Hamburg, had it in their power to give the German team victory with a clear round. But, after one pole dropped at fence 5, the combination retired. Therefore, both teams shared first place with 8 faults, and a jump-off was required.

The Dutch team sent Smolders as their representative. “The decision was for Harrie since he’s going to ride another horse in the grand prix tomorrow, and Leon’s and my horse are not very fast when it comes to a jump-off,” said Raijmakers, who did double duty in Madrid in replacing Dutch team coach Rob Ehrens as chef d’equipe.

Smolders opened the jump-off with a clear round to the rousing cheers of the Dutch supporters. Voss couldn’t duplicate the effort for Germany and made his turn too short to the double combination where Leonardo refused. He finished the course but had to add 10 time penalties, which added up to 14 faults.

The international show jumping events at Madrid, organized by the Club de Campo, have a rich tradition
that goes back to 1907. The long series of horse shows was only interrupted by the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), which means that the show will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010.

The white tribunes, honorary boxes and the judges’ tower around the large grass arena give the place its special atmosphere since they were constructed in 1954, when the World Show Jumping Championships took place at this site.

For this year’s 98th edition, a Nations Cup returned to Madrid for the first time since 2001. In between, it had been held in Gijon, the city with which Madrid had been alternating hosting duties. Additionally, this is the one “normal” Spanish CSIO held as Barcelona has hosted the Samsung Super League Final since 2002. 

Birgit Popp

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