Calgary, AB – Sept. 7, 2019 – Riding for top honors, the lion’s share of the prize money, and with their home nation’s teammates, 40 horse-and-rider combinations made up 10 teams who contested the $530,000 BMO Nations Cup CSIO5* at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament on Saturday afternoon in the famed International Ring. France, USA, Ireland, Mexico, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, and Sweden all brought their best talent to aim to be victorious. This year, it was the Belgian team, made up of Olivier Philippaerts aboard H&M Extra, Pieter Clemens riding Quintini, Francois Mathy Jr. with Uno De La Roque and Yves Vanderhasselt and Jeunesse, who jumped to their first-ever win in the prestigious class.
The 12-obstacle, 1.60m track, set by Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) and Peter Grant (CAN), was a test of adjustability and scope. The oxer at 4b came down a number of times, and the final fence, the widest oxer on course, also saw its share of faults. The triple combination, set at the end of the course and going towards the in-gate, also accrued faults across each element.
The Belgians held an early lead, as Philippaerts and Clemens were two of only three riders to post a zero score in the opening round, with the third coming from Canada’s Eric Lamaze and Coco Bongo. Ireland ended the first round in second on a score of eight faults, Canada in third with nine, France in fourth with ten, and Sweden kept it to twelve faults to keep themselves in the second round and finish in the sixth place position.
The six teams came back in reverse order of qualification to jump the same track a second time, in hopes of improving on their score from round one. Philippaerts jumped one of only two double-clear rounds of the day, with the second coming from teammate and cousin Pieter Clemens to keep the Belgians at the top of the scoreboard all afternoon. When Mathy jumped clear in round two, the Belgians secured the win on a total score of four faults. The final rider in the lineup, Vanderhasselt jumped a perfect clear round to put the icing on the cake for the team in their commanding win.
With the gold medal position decided, it was up to the final riders to see who would take the silver and bronze medals. Mario Deslauriers’ clear second round put Canada on a grand total of five faults, and when Ireland’s Conor Swail elected to retire, Canada ended the day in second place while Ireland finished in third on a total of 19.
The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ concludes on Sunday, Sept. 8, with the highly anticipated $3,000,000 CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The class will get underway at 11:15 a.m. MDT in the International Ring.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
On the win:
“We’re all very pleased – Belgium had a tremendous year all around and then to come to Spruce Meadows with four different riders, four different horses, and to win again after the [FEI] European [Jumping Championships] – I think it’s something special. I think Belgium has had a very good year and I think all together with our chef [d’equipe] we have a good team and towards the next few years hopefully, Belgium can keep on winning.”
On Belgium’s first BMO Nation’s Cup win:
“We’ve been close a couple times [to winning here] for a couple of years and we’re very happy we can take the trophy home. It was very well-deserved today and I think we didn’t steal it but we owned it today and it’s always nice to win like that. We have a great team spirit and that makes a difference.”
Francois Mathy Jr.
On his team:
“I think Olivier [Philippaerts] and Pieter [Clemens] made the task very easy for us by delivering a two double-clear [rounds] so I came in the ring very hyped because I knew he was behind me and was going to deliver it if I didn’t, so he made it easy. I think it was fantastic – [Olivier and Pieter] were the only double-clears in the class. When you start like that it’s motivating for the rest of the team and we were happy to be able to deliver that victory that we never have had here.”
On the course:
“You go into the ring and you want to do well for the team so you try to take the best out of it and try to give everything. I think you had to ride in a little bit to the triple combination because it was quite a massive oxer but then you also needed a good and careful horse to do the two strides to the vertical and then you just have to keep your horse focused and keep your focus yourself and do the job.”
On the Young Rider Academy:
“I have been very lucky that I could come here to the Young Rider Academy and to the whole organization at Spruce Meadows. I got a great opportunity to jump here over the summer and I think this did help – the horses have been here already and I know a little bit what it is like. Of course, this is more than the summer – it is bigger, but I think it did help and it was a great experience.”
On team communication:
“We talk a lot about the rounds today and in the morning we walked the course together. Before the Nations Cup started we walked the course again and after each round we also communicated to avoid faults in the second round.”
Peter Weinberg – Belgian chef D’Equipe
On Olympic selection:
“I think it is very difficult because we have so many good riders with good horses for next year’s Olympics I really have a hard job. They are all close together and it is really very difficult to decide who is the best.”
On the course:
“When we were walking the course in the morning we saw that it was quite a tough course which we also saw during the competition, but we have very strong riders who can live with the pressure and in the second round, it was absolutely brilliant what they did. I am very happy with [these riders] – it makes my job quite easy because they ride clear [rounds] and I am very happy.”