Guadalajara, Mexico – The Canadian Show Jumping Team of Jonathan Asselin of Calgary, AB, Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, ON, Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, and Ian Millar of Perth, ON, finished fourth in team competition at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Millar is currently Canada’s highest ranked competitor in seventh position individually.
A total of 12 teams contested Thursday’s Team Final. All four members of the team from the United States jumped double clear to clinch the gold medal with a total of 2.90 penalties. Brazil earned silver with 11.58 penalties while Mexico claimed the bronze with 13.24. Canada finished fourth with 21.92 penalties while Chile rounded out the top five with 32.52 penalties.
“There are a lot of nice horses and a lot of great riders competing at the Pan American Games,” said Terrance Millar, chef d’equipe of the Canadian Show Jumping Team. “We weren’t at the top of our game; it just wasn’t good enough. Having said that, ours were horse and rider combinations that might be candidates for London and this might be a good stepping stone on the path of possibly representing us next year.”
As the top three nations not already qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, the United States, Mexico and Chile booked their tickets to London. Brazil and Canada already held Olympic qualification thanks to their fourth and fifth place finishes at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.
In Thursday’s two-round team competition, Canada improved on its fifth place position following Wednesday’s opening round to finish fourth overall. As Canada’s pathfinder, Eric Lamaze, 43, barely touched the Mexican flag plank at fence seven to incur four faults riding Coriana van Klapscheut, a nine-year-old chestnut Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. Returning for the second round, the pair left all the rails in place but incurred four faults at the open water. Lamaze is now ranked 15th individually with a penalty score of 11.03.
The next rider in for Canada was Jonathan Asselin, 52, riding Showgirl, an 11-year-old chestnut selle francais mare owned by Attaché Stables. In his Pan American Games debut, Asselin guided Showgirl to a faultless clear round, but incurred one time penalty after stopping the clock in 84.02 seconds. The time allowed to complete the Mexican-themed show jumping course set by designer Javier Fernandez was 84 seconds. In the second round, Asselin and Showgirl made it all the way to the final fence before incurring four faults. Added to his score from Wednesday’s speed round, Asselin moved up to 16th position on the leaderboard with a provisional score of 11.10 penalty points.
The defending Pan American Games champion, Jill Henselwood, 48, had two rails in the first round riding George, a nine-year-old chestnut Hannoverian gelding owned by Brian Gingras. Coming back for the second round, Henselwood produced a faultless effort to finish 22nd individually with a score of 15.61.
Riding as the Canadian Team anchor, Ian Millar, 64, produced two clear rounds with Star Power, a 10-year-old Dutch-bred gelding owned by Team Works. Adding nothing to his score from Wednesday’s speed phase, Millar is ranked seventh individually with a score of 3.79 penalty points – less than one rail behind the leader.
“I am pleased with Star Power, he has become a very sophisticated horse in this type of competition,” said Millar of the horse he began riding at the beginning of 2010. “He has become a real professional at what he does. It bodes well for upcoming events next year.”
Millar sets a record in Guadalajara by competing in his ninth consecutive Pan American Games, the most of any athlete in Canadian history. He has earned nine medals in his past eight appearances, including Individual Gold in 1987 riding Big Ben and in 1999 riding Ivar, more than any other show jumping athlete from any country.
“I have some pretty serious muscle ahead of me, so it will take some serious jumping to get ahead of them,” said Millar of his hopes for an individual medal in Saturday’s final. “My horse has to really jump and they have to get into trouble, but it is all in the day.”
In reference to his Individual Gold medal win riding Ivar at the 1999 Pan American Games, Millar noted, “Anything can happen. In Winnipeg, we were sitting 10th coming into the final and after the first round, we moved up to fifth and then went all the way. I am not liking my chances as well here though; it is pretty heavy hitting group.”
Following a day of rest on Friday, the top 25 individuals carry their scores forward to the two-round Individual Final on Saturday, beginning at 12 noon. As only three riders per nation can contest the Individual Final as per Pan American Games rules, Millar, Lamaze and Asselin will compete for Canada.
“I had hoped they would all qualify for the Individual Final,” noted Terrance Millar. “Ian is in good shape in seventh place. It will be good mileage and good experience for Jonathan Asselin to jump Showgirl in the two rounds of the Individual Final. And Eric is Eric – he could pop up and do anything. A lot can happen.”
The United States currently dominates the individual standings with Beezie Madden of the United States holding the lead with Via Volo followed by Christine McCrea on a score of .88 riding Romantovich Take One. McLain Ward is in third with a score of 2.02 with Antares F followed closely by Bernardo Alves of Brazil with 2.09 riding Bridgit. Mexico is represented by Alberto Michan in fifth with 2.28 riding Rosalia La Silla.
The Canadian Show Jumping Team is supported throughout the Pan American Games by chef d’equipe Terrance Millar, assisted by Mark Laskin, team veterinarian Dr. Sylvie Surprenant, stable manager Lori Green and team manager Karen Hendry-Ouellette.
The Canadian Equestrian Team is assisted at the Pan American Games by Team Leader Kerri McGregor of Newmarket, ON, and Assistant Team Leader Tina Collins of Loretto, ON.
A total of 55 horses representing 17 countries competed in the individual show jumping events while 12 nations contested the team medals. For competition details and results, consult the XVI Pan American Games official website at www.guadalajara2011.org.mx or the FEI website www.fei.org.
Pan American Games – Show Jumping – Final Team Standings
Gold United States 2.90
Silver Brazil 11.58
Bronze Mexico 13.24
4. Canada 21.92
5. Chile 32.52
6. Argentina 52.61
7. Colombia 56.19
8. Venezuela 70.07
9. Guatemala 78.39
10. Ecuador 85.61
11. Uruguay 96.28
Pan American Games – Show Jumping – Current Individual Standings
Rider Country Horse Penalties
1. Beezie Madden United States Coral Reef Via Volo 0.00
2. Christine McCrea United States Romantovich Take One .88
3. McLain Ward United States Antares F 2.02
4. Bernardo Alves Brazil Bridgit 2.09
5. Alberto Michan Mexico Rosalia La Silla 2.28
6. Rodrigo Pessoa Brazil HH Ashley 2.87
7. Ian Millar Canada Star Power 3.79
8. Kent Farrington United States Uceko 3.90
9. Antonio Maurer Mexico Callao 4.98
10. Tomas Couve Chile Arc en Ciel de Muze 5.87
15. Eric Lamaze Canada Coriana van Klapscheut 11.03
16. Jonathan Asselin Canada Showgirl 11.10
22. Jill Henselwood Canada George 15.61
Photo: Ian Millar of Perth, ON, riding Star Power is currently ranked seventh individually in show jumping competition at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo Credit – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com