The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* hosted its BMO Nations’ Cup on Saturday afternoon with a demanding competition that came down to a thrilling jump-off for the gold medal between Switzerland and Brazil. In the end, the team from Switzerland took the win, with a second place finish for Brazil, and the host nation of Canada taking bronze. Saturday’s highlight event saw record attendance of over 89,700 spectators – nearly 4,000 more than ever before – to watch ten teams from around the world compete for top honors. The Suncor Energy Winning Round 1.50m was also held earlier in the day with a victory for Ireland’s Cian O’Connor aboard Callisto. The ‘Masters’ Tournament concludes on Sunday, September 11, featuring the best horses and riders in the world competing in the $2 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex. The biggest Grand Prix in the sport, the CP International is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and offers the sport’s biggest, most technical, and demanding test. On Saturday, ten teams representing the countries of Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, USA, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, France, and The Netherlands started in the first round of the BMO Nations’ Cup. The top six teams then returned for a second round over the same course, which was set by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios. The difficult course yielded only five clear rounds out of 38 total competitors in round one. In round two, only four individuals jumped clear out of 24 starters for the top six teams.
Team Switzerland was represented by Werner Muff aboard Pollendr (who incurred 9 faults in rd. 1 and 9 faults in rd. 2), Alain Jufer riding Wiveau M (clear in rd. 1 and 1 time fault in rd. 2), Nadja Peter Steiner with Capuera II (4 and 9), and anchor rider Steve Guerdat aboard Corbinian (4 and 0). They were led by Chef d’Equipe Stephane Montavon. Team Brazil consisted of Eduardo Menezes riding Quintol (with 8 faults in rd. 1 and 1 time fault in rd. 2), Yuri Mansur Guerios aboard Quartz de la Lande (0 and 4), Felipe Amaral with Premiere Carthoes BZ (9 and 5), and Pedro Veniss riding Quabri de l’Isle (0 and 5), led by Chef d’Equipe Lucia Faria Alegria Simoes. After round two, Switzerland and Brazil were tied on 18 faults each and both selected one combination to jump in a tie-breaking round. Yuri Mansur Guerios and Quartz de la Lande were selected to jump-off for Team Brazil, dropping one rail in a time of 45.95 seconds over the short course. Alain Jufer and Wiveau M jumped off for Team Switzerland, securing their team’s victory with a clear round in 48.76 seconds. As the anchor rider for Switzerland, it all came down to Steve Guerdat in round two, as his clear round was last to go and solidified the need for a jump-off for the gold medal. Guerdat was aboard Corbinian, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Cornet Obolensky x Pilot) that he owns with La Giraffa SA. Since he will also jump Corbinian in Sunday’s CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, the decision was made to send Jufer in for the tiebreaker.
“They were expecting me to go, which would have been the normal choice because my horse was still warm and he jumped really well today, but so did Alain’s horse,” Guerdat noted. “I said that I did not want to do the jump-off because there is tomorrow also. I feel that I did quite a lot for my team. I rode my best horse today, which not everybody would have done in my position with the Rolex Grand Slam coming tomorrow. I decided that I would really prefer not to go, so it was a quick change. Everybody was holding a leg, putting the studs and the boots on Alain’s horse, and he did three jumps and went on. That makes the win even better that he did such a great job.” Guerdat and Jufer are childhood friends and have only jumped on two Nations’ Cup teams together before, both at Spruce Meadows. To win the BMO Nations’ Cup for the first time was a special event for Guerdat, made better by his friend’s added success. “Every Nations’ Cup win is a great win. They are very tough classes to win and we do not win them often,” Guerdat stated. “I do not know how many Nations’ Cup classes I have won, but not so many. Spruce is always a special show to me and I love to come here. It is even more special to win with Alain because we grew up together and we started riding together. We are very good friends. To win in this condition just makes it even more special, so as you can imagine, it is a great day for us. We had great conditions today; we had a tough course, a nice course. The horses were jumping very well, and it was just a great afternoon of sport, and a great day for Switzerland.” Jufer and Wiveau M were essential to the team victory, as the pair jumped clear in round one, earned just one time fault in round two, and clinched the victory with their clear jump-off round. With the quick change before the tiebreaker, Jufer did not have much time to get nervous, and put his confidence in Wiveau M, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Niveau x Concorde) owned by Lutta Gian-Battista. “For me it was the first time to ride a jump-off this big,” Jufer detailed. “They told me I had to be clear and I tried to do my best. My horse jumped fantastic. This is the biggest stage I have won on. The feeling is amazing.” Jufer got Wiveau M when the stallion was nine years old and explained that the horse developed to the top level quickly. “He has always done a good job,” the rider stated. “He gives everything to go clear and he jumped fantastic today. He does so much for me.”
Photos: Spruce Meadows Media Services