Friday, May. 24, 2024

Watch Why They Won: Foster Tops Her First Five-Star On Home Turf

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Canada’s Tiffany Foster scored her first five-star grand prix victory Saturday, May 27, fittingly on the home soil of Thunderbird Show Park (British Columbia)—and she did it on a mare she’s often considered third in her string of jumpers.

Foster, of Vancouver, won the CA$414,300 MLSJ Grand Prix CSI5* with the aptly named Northern Light, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Plot Blue—C’est Ma Cherie, Contender) owned by Foster and Artisan Farms LLC.

“It still hasn’t quite hit me, but I’m so happy, and I’m so happy that this happened here at Thunderbird,” Foster said. “I’ve called on her a couple of times to step up and jump some of these big 1.60-meter classes, but in general, I sort of keep her in the 1.50- to 1.55-meter slot. That’s partly because I am so lucky with my owners, and I have other horses that can jump that height so easily in Figor and Hamilton. She’s the kind of horse who doesn’t like to jump that big every single week, because I think she has to make such a great effort.”

Tiffany Foster and Northern Light en route to winning the MLSJ Grand Prix CSI5* May 27 at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, B.C. Meredith Clark Photo

That didn’t seem to be a problem for “Nora” over the weekend, as she was one of four horses from a field of 33 starters to post a clean first round over German course designer Olaf Petersen’s track. 

Fifth in the ring, Canada’s Erynn Ballard posted the first clean aboard her 2022 ECCO FEI World Championship (Denmark) mount Gakhir, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. Then the waiting game began: Horse after horse racked up faults on the leaderboard as the class wore on, and then Karl Cook (USA) and Kalinka Van’T Zorgvliet looked to be joining her but for a heartbreaking 2 time faults.

Foster and “Nora,” along with Shane Sweetnam (Ireland) and James Kann Cruz also were able to find a fault-free path in the first round, followed by U.S. rider Lillie Keenan on Fasther—who stopped the clock right on the time allowed of 73 seconds to make the jump-off.

First to return, Ballard had no choice but to play all her cards and force the rest to chase her. She had two fences down.

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Foster was next, riding the line between a more conservative clear and still putting the pressure on. Clear in 39.18 seconds moved them into the lead.

Sweetnam’s James Kann Cruz had an early rail, while Keenan’s Fasther had a very hard look heading to the first fence, followed up by a refusal at a vertical. The win was Foster’s.

Foster credited the win to Nora, and to taking a strategic approach to picking classes for the mare.

“I have played with jumping really small rounds and just keeping her happy, comfortable and relaxed,” she said. “I think that I’m figuring out the formula with her. She also likes a smaller sand arena. So if I continue with my strategy and place her in the right spots, I think that I should never say that she’s my ‘third’ horse again.”

Watch their winning jump-off round, courtesy of Thunderbird Show Park:

See complete results here.

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