Lexington, Kentucky – The Canadian Show Jumping Team comprised of Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, Jonathon Millar of Perth, ON, and John Pearce of Stouffville, ON, is sitting in fifth position following the opening day of competition held Monday, October 4, at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY.
In the team standings, the United States leads the way with a score of 5.69 followed by Germany with 9.80. France is third with 11.32, Netherlands is fourth with 11.33 and Canada is fifth with 11.93. A total of 27 nations are contesting the team competition.
Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze was the final Canadian rider into the stadium and posted the team’s best result. Despite adding a four-second penalty to his time following a rail down at fence nine, Lamaze’s time of 76.03 seconds placed him eighth among the field of 121 horses.
“I am not sure what happened, it is not a fence I would normally have to worry about,” said Lamaze of the downed rail with Hickstead, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood breeding stallion owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. “Some days you have a little rub and it stays up, but today it came down.”
Of his overall performance Lamaze noted, “You want to do well and be in the top group, and stay within four faults of the leader. For me to have gone any faster would not have been a good strategy.”
Mario Deslauriers, who formerly competed for Canada and began riding for the United States in 2009, currently tops the leader board following the opening day of competition with a time of 71.25 seconds riding Urico. McLain Ward, also riding for the United States, is in second position with 71.79 seconds riding Sapphire while Sandor Szasz of Hungary riding Moosbachhofs Goldwing is in third with 73.24 seconds.
Lamaze is competing in his fifth consecutive World Equestrian Games despite have a broken bone in his left foot. Despite undergoing surgery in July, Lamaze requires a second surgery immediately following the World Equestrian Games.
“It doesn’t bother me in the ring when the adrenaline is running high, but it bothers me after,” said Lamaze of his injury. “I just have to concentrate on landing with my weight more on my right side than the other.”
Lamaze is closely followed in the individual standings by John Pearce. Riding Chianto, a 14-year-old grey Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Alison Moore, Pearce incurred four faults at the liverpool oxer at fence 12. Pearce currently sits tenth in the individual standings.
“My horse was quick and stayed off the jumps well, I made a plan and he was good about sticking to my plan,” said Pearce who represented Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. “My horse was a little fresh today; he was anxious and not soft to ride. I can’t fight with him, I just have to go with it. He needs a day to settle, so he should be good for tomorrow. I am very happy to be here and to be representing my country.”
Jonathon Millar was the second rider into the stadium in the morning, so did not have the advantage of watching how the other horses and riders handled the track set by course designers Conrad Homfeld of the United States and Richard Jeffery of Great Britain. Millar only had trouble at the second element of the double combination at fence 10ab, a black Kentucky fence line that caused problems for competitors throughout the day. Adding four seconds to his time, Millar finished with 84.94, which moves him into 59th position individually.
“I prefer to go early,” said Millar who was riding Contino 14, a 13-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding owned by Millar Brooke Farm. “I’ve gotten to know Contino so well that I just make my plan and stick to it. I thought Contino stepped in and did a good job; we put in a good, solid round. I tried to ride it like it was a class with a short time allowed rather than as a speed class. We are just starting out, so to have something go wrong so early is not a risk you want to take.”
Yann Candele riding Pitareusa, a 13-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Susan Grange, provided Canada’s drop score. Only the best three out of four scores are counted towards the team standings, and when 12 seconds were added to Candele’s time for a total of 89.13 seconds, Candele’s score was discarded from the team result. He sits in 83rd position individually.
“She started well, but I overrode the end of the course,” said Candele, who had rails fall at fences 10a, 12 and 13b. “The course was very technical, but that is what we expect from Conrad Homfeld and Richard Jeffery. Size does not matter; they are very good at what they do, and they are very technical. We want to help the team as best as we can, and we will try to come back and do our best tomorrow.”
Competition resumes at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, October 5. The top 10 teams then advance to the second round to take place Wednesday, October 6, beginning at 1 p.m. Team medals will be then be awarded.
On Friday night at 5:30 p.m., the top 30 individually ranked competitors will jump in the hopes of being among the ‘Final Four’ who contest the World Championship title on Saturday night, October 9, at 8 p.m. In the ultimate test of horsemanship, the final four competitors will ride each of the four horses over the course to decide the individual medals, and the coveted title of World Champion.
Held for the first time outside of Europe, the World Equestrian Games take place every four years and act as the world championships for equestrian sport, including the discipline of show jumping. At the last major games held, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Canadian Show Jumping Team claimed Team Silver as well as Individual Gold for Eric Lamaze.
For more information, including live scoring, please visit www.alltechfeigames.com.
Photo: Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, shows the way for the fifth-ranked Canadian Show Jumping Team, placing eighth individually on the opening day of competition at the 2010 FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY. Photo Credit – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com