The inaugural event at the Otomí Club Hípico in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the first of three successive Nations Cups in North America this year, was a true CSIO5* 1.60m course that challenged all six teams in attendance to deliver strong performances.

The stakes were especially high for the American, Mexican, and Canadian teams who came to battle it out for points toward qualifying for the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in September in Barcelona, Spain.

Leading off for Canada in the first round was the seasoned and highest-ranked show jumper on the Canadian team, Tiffany Foster of Langley, BC. Riding Hamilton (Quadros 3 x Acolord), a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by the Hamilton Group, the pair had an uncharacteristic start with a rail down at the first jump but completed a technically skilled round to hold their faults to four.

Canada’s Show Jumping Team on the Podium in Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIO5* of Mexico

“I think whenever you have number one down, it’s just one of those unfortunate things,” Foster remarked. “He had a little stumble in the warmup so I think I maybe rode a little stronger than I needed to, so I’ll take that one. But I was really proud of my horse today, I thought he jumped great and proved just how good he is.”

The youngest member of the Canadian team was next up for Canada. In her first CSIO5* appearance and only her second Nations’ Cup, 21-year-old Sara Tindale from Campbellville, ON showed maturity beyond her years riding Kino (Lord Z x Chambertin 3), a 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Ashford Farms.

Canada’s Show Jumping Team on the Podium in Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIO5* of Mexico

“This is a step up for me, and as my first five-star, I am very happy with how it went,” Tindale shared. “Kino tried really hard, and I couldn’t be happier. A couple of small mistakes that we can go home and work on. I’m very grateful to be here with such incredible teammates who put in a fantastic effort.” The duo had two rails down on course and finished the round on a score of 8.

Up third was 42-year-old Erynn Ballard from Tottenham, ON riding Gakhir (Spartacus TN x Labor’s VDL Indorado), a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Esperanza Imports LLC & Ilan Ferder. What looked like a possible first clear for the Canadians, unfortunately, a rail down at the first element of the triple combination resulted in a four-fault round. 

Canada’s Show Jumping Team on the Podium in Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIO5* of Mexico

“That round could have easily been clean,” said Ballard. “I made a riding mistake and that’s part of the sport and sometimes happens. My horse really rose to the occasion today and we’re proving to our country and the world that we’re serious about being a part of the team.”

Anchor rider Mario Deslauriers, from Venise-en-Quebec, QC, riding Bardolina 2 (Clarimo x Landos), a 14-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Wishing Well Farm LLC & Mario Deslauriers, added four faults to the team score. The Canadian team finished strong on a score of 12 faults at the end of the first round. 

Canada’s Show Jumping Team on the Podium in Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIO5* of Mexico

The team came back fighting in the second round hoping to move up from their third-place position and catch Team USA with four faults and Mexico with eight. Foster and Ballard both expertly navigated quick, clean rounds and Tindale picked up eight with two small errors on course. All eyes at that point were on Bardolina and Deslauriers. It was not to be, and Canada finished on a final score of 20, resulting in a third-place podium finish.

“Anything can happen after the first round of a Nations Cup, and this is what makes these classes so exciting. On this occasion it did not change Canada’s ultimate third-place finish but pushed Mexico and the USA into a jump-off for first place,” said Chef D’Equipe Ian Millar. “This was great sport today and the Mexican team and the United States team deserve full marks.”

“It was a very good effort out there today, it was just a little bad luck here and there that kept us out of that jump-off, and that’s the way it is,” he continued. “We were third today, but on the podium. Any day you’re on the podium is a good day.”

With a small margin between the top teams, the chase is on for points on the road to the Barcelona final. Next up for the Canadians will be the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup USA on May 14, 2023, in San Juan Capistrano, California, USA. 

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