Friday, May. 31, 2024

Dutch Prevail For BMO Nations Cup Victory

It was a day mixed with drama and dramatic show jumping at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., during the $325,127 BMO Nations Cup. But in the end the tough prevailed, and the Dutch were the toughest today. Despite their lead-off pair leaving the course in a horse ambulance, the Dutch riders didn’t bow down to the pressure of only having three riders’ scores count.

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It was a day mixed with drama and dramatic show jumping at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., during the $325,127 BMO Nations Cup. But in the end the tough prevailed, and the Dutch were the toughest today. Despite their lead-off pair leaving the course in a horse ambulance, the Dutch riders didn’t bow down to the pressure of only having three riders’ scores count.

All remaining riders—Albert Zoer/Okidoki, Marc Houtzager/Opium VS and Harrie Smolders/Exquis Walnut de Muze—jumped two clear rounds apiece before an all-time record crowd of 67,879 spectators on a sunny Sept. 12.

“We were three riders left for both rounds, and we had to do a very good job,” said Albert Zoer. “The pressure is good for all of us, and all three horses jumped great.”

The Dutch took top billing with 1 time fault, incurred by Houtzager after Opium spent some time bucking in exuberance on course. In the end it didn’t matter, however, as their closest competition was the United States with 12 faults and Mexico was third with 13 faults.

The victory was sweet redemption for the Dutch team, whose same riders had dropped out of gold medal contention at the Alltech FEI European Show Jumping Championships two weeks earlier when Houtzager dropped two rails in the second round. “In the second round here I knew I could make time faults, but I didn’t know I had 12 in hand,” said Houtzager smiling.

During the first round, Leopoldo Palacios’ 12-fence course caused tremendous troubles for several riders and horses. Unfortunately, Angelique Hoorn, the first Dutch rider on course, was eliminated when her horse injured himself in the combination at 5AB. Ian Allison of Spruce Meadows reported after the competition that the stallion, Blauwendraad’s O’Brien, strained the superficial flexor tendon in his right front leg and is under care and resting comfortably at the Spruce Meadows veterinary facility on-site.

Four horses after Hoorn’s accident, Italian rider Juan Carlos Garcia and Hamilton De Perhet crashed through the oxer at fence 7, the fall eliminating them.

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and the bouncy Checkmate, the anchors for the German team, had a clear round going until the final oxer when he misjudged and swam through, bouncing Michaels-Beerbaum off of his neck onto the ground. After some delay, she walked out of the ring accompanied by her husband, Markus, but she declined to return for Round 2. Because she’d crossed the timers before falling off, however, her score of 4 faults with 1 time fault counted.

While the Dutch were unstoppable through the competition, the remaining placings were up for grabs. And the United States, the defending champions, took advantage.

After a shaky start in the first round when Beezie Madden and Danny Boy jumped to 12 faults and Ashlee Bond with Cadett 7 scored 8, it was Quick Study and Lauren Hough and Richard Spooner with Cristallo who saved the day with clear performances. With 8 total faults, the United States stood in fourth place and qualified for Round 2.

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Germany held second with 5 faults, with a strong Mexican team, led by chef d’equipe Norman Dello Joio, standing third with 6 faults. Switzerland and Canada eeked into the second round with 9 faults apiece, while Ireland, Great Britain, Italy and Norway did not quality for the second round.

While the Dutch continued their domination in the second round, the United States also rallied.

Madden rode a touch more aggressively in the second round, and Danny Boy reacted with a well-jumped clear round. Bond showed renewed mettle, but Cadett still dropped two rails, one at 5B, the second element of the difficult oxer-vertical double that came after the water, and another at the middle element of the triple combination at 9ABC.  Bond’s was the drop score in the second round.

Hough followed with a second clear round, one of five double clears in the class, while Spooner and Cristallo pulled 5B. But the team’s total of 12 faults moved them up to second when the Mexicans and Germans faltered.   

Without Michaels-Beerbaum, all three German scores counted and they fell to sixth, while Mexico had to add 8 faults to their total for third.

Eric Lamaze kept Canadian team hopes high and gave the home crowd lots to cheer about with his own double-clear performance on the reigning Olympic gold medalist Hickstead. The Canadians finished tied for fourth with two horses making their Nations Cup debuts (John Anderson’s Terrific and Beth Underhill’s Top Gun).

Results

BMO Nations Cup 

1. The Netherlands, 1

2. USA, 12

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3. Mexico, 14

4. Switzerland, 18

5. Canada, 18

6. Germany, 21 

Did Not Qualify For Second Round

Ireland, 10

Great Britain, 10

Italy, 18

Norway, 25

The U.S. stallion Judgement, a long-time favorite at Spruce Meadows, enjoyed a last canter around the Internationale Arena with Beezie Madden during his send-off ceremony in the break between the two rounds of the Nations Cup. With earnings of more than $1 million over the course of his Spruce Meadows career, he leaves a legacy of major victories from 2005 to 2008, including the prestigious CN International in 2005.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is sunny and warm for the $1 million CN International Grand Prix. “It’s one of the strongest fields in years,” said Eric Lamaze, who’s considered a major contender for this  year’s title.

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