August 7, 2019, Lima, PER – The Canadian Show Jumping Team is Tokyo bound for the 2020 Olympics after earning fourth place at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games in Peru on August 7.

Team members, Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON; Lisa Carlsen of Okotoks, AB; Mario Deslauriers of Bromont, QC; and Nicole Walker of Aurora, ON reached their goal of Tokyo qualification on a team total of 30.21 after two days and three rounds of competition. Brazil won a decisive team gold on a score of 12.39. Mexico made a strong move up from their fourth place standing on day one to take team silver with 22.97, while the United States lost their leading foothold to land in the bronze medal position with 23.09.

Nicole Walker and Falco van Spieveld. Photo: @Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Canada was sitting third coming into day two, which honoured the nations cup format with horses and riders negotiating the same track in back-to-back rounds. By the end of the first round, they were holding fourth, securing their place among the top 10 teams invited back for the second round. With Tokyo qualifications only handed out to the top three placed teams, not counting the US who were already qualified, the pressure was on.

Round two saw the four leading teams bounce in and out of the top three spots on the leaderboard, as they waited to see where they landed when all four riders had completed and the highest score from each team was dropped. Heading into the final rotation of riders, Canada was sitting third once again, and holding their breath to see if Team Mexico anchors, Patricio Pasquel and Babel, would be able to knock off their teammate’s 16 faults. A clutch performance by Pasquel put a zero on the board for Mexico and sealed Canada’s fate in fourth, less than two rails away from the podium.

“It would have been nice to have a medal, but really our goal and our priority was coming down here to qualify for the Olympics, so I am extremely happy. Mission accomplished,” said Canadian Show Jumping Team Chef d’Équipe, Mark Laskin.

Canada’s top performer was Ballard, 38, and her up-and-comer, Fellini S (Vermont x Rash R). They proved to be one of only two horse-rider combinations to achieve back-to-back clear rounds over the exacting 13 obstacles and 16 efforts set by FEI 4* Course Designer, Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. They finished out the first two days of competition standing in second place individually on a score of 3.26 – sandwiched between Brazilians, Pedro Veniss and Quabri de l’Isle in first (2.06), and Rodrigo Lambre and Chacciama in third (5.26).

“That horse jumped his heart out two rounds in a row today,” Ballard said of the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ilan Ferder. “And, he’s good on the time, good in the atmosphere, and at the water and the walls. He handled it beautifully. It’s a pretty cool feeling jumping double-clear in a place like this, and jumping double-clear for Mark Laskin – that’s a pretty big deal for me right now.”

Mario Deslauriers and Amsterdam 27. Photo: @Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Walker, 26, finished out the day in 12th individually on a score of 13.38 penalties aboard her 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Falco van Spieveld (Toulon x Lys De Darmen). After lowering two rails for eight faults in the first round, they returned to add just four faults, bringing down an airy, skinny vertical situated as the middle component of a tricky, Machu Picchu-themed line set straight down the middle of the ring that required a compressed five strides, immediately followed by a long four.

“I fixed the mistakes I made in the first round, and we just got a little bit careless at that skinny,” explained Walker. “It’s a light jump and you could breathe on it and it would fall down, so we were a bit unlucky there.”

Speaking to the experience of her first major games to date, she added, “Being here with the team all week and getting the chance to bond with them and doing team things together has been pretty special. It’s definitely a week to remember.”

In the first round, Deslauriers and Amsterdam 27 were among many throughout the day to accumulate faults at the penultimate line - a triple combination at 12abc, set right under the busy VIP pavilion, and leading into a bending line to the final oxer on course. They also had a hard knock at the deceivingly difficult triple bar oxer at fence two that had its fair share of victims. However, they returned in round two to complete a textbook round, lowering just one unlucky rail at a vertical early on course to finish day two of competition in 19th place on a score of 21.57.

“The second round was a lot better, and I think the horse learned a lot from the first round to the second,” Deslauriers said of the nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Catoki x Acord II), owned by Wishing Well Farm LLC and Luga LLC. “I think he got a little rattled when he hit that second fence hard in the first round, and I think that really disrupted the rest of my course. But he really made a great effort the second round. He just dragged me past that one jump where we had the rail, but other than that, he jumped great.”

Reflecting on the team’s success in punching their ticket to Tokyo, the two-time Canadian Olympian and anchor rider in Lima stated, “It’s what we came here for. To win a medal would have been nice, and we were in striking distance. But I think everybody handled the pressure well, and everyone counted a score in the two rounds of the nations cup. Now we look forward, and everybody starts on a clean slate for the individual final. So, we’ll put our best foot forward and try to pull it off. We’ll fight another day.”

While Deslauriers, 54, may not have stepped up to the team podium, the family name was well represented there with his 20-year-old daughter, Lucy, helping the United States to bronze. “That was great to see Lucy get a medal. It was so exciting and she rode beautifully. She was the only clear round for the US in the second round.”

The pathfinder for Canada in both rounds was Carlsen aboard her 13-year-old Brandenburg mare, Parette (Passoa VDL x Barinello). They too faced challenges at the two trickiest spots on course during their rounds. In their first trip, the “b” and “c” elements of the triple combination came down for eight faults in an otherwise perfect round. In the second round, it was the third jump in the Machu Picchu line that fell, along with the final oxer on course.

“Parette is fairly green for this level, so I’m really proud of her for being here,” said Carlsen, 54, who has a team gold medal from the 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis, USA. “Everything is always a learning experience. There are little things that I’ve learned about her here, and I can just take that on to the next venue and next competition, so she and I can keep growing together.”

Lisa Carlsen and Parette. Photo: @Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Due to an unfortunate elimination during day one of competition on August 6, while Carlsen contributed valuable rides for the team in the final, she was not eligible for individual competition.

In the Individual Jumping Final, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli jumped to gold with the brilliant 13-year-old Selle Francais mare Sirene de la Motte, producing the only double-clear performance of the day.

Out of the 32 riders to make it to the final day of the competition and the 22 to advance to the final round of jumping, Argentina’s José María Larocca, Jr. came closest to matching the victor. A single time fault in the second round aboard the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Finn Lente, left him on a score of 1. The result also clinched an individual quota place for Argentina at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. 

Larocca, Jr. is an amateur rider who works in commodities trading and juggles his time between work, family, and horses.

With three other quota places available to nations without teams already qualified, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Chile also kept dreams alive by securing representation in Tokyo, thanks to the performances of Juan Manuel Gallego (Fee des Sequoias Z, 10th), Hector Florentino Roca (Carnaval, 11th) and Ignacio Montesinos (Cornetboy, 14th), respectively.

It was also a thrilling finish for the individual bronze medal, as four riders finished on four faults, leading to a jump-off. The USA’s Beezie Madden (Breitling LS), already bringing home a bronze medal from Friday’s team competition, crossed the timers of the shortened course with a clear round in 42.47 seconds to capture the bronze. Canadian Nicole Walker (Falco van Spieveld) was next-best to finish fourth (4/44.18), followed by American Eve Jobs (Venue d’Fees des Hazalles, 8/46.06) and Eugenio Garza Perez (Armani Sl Z) of Mexico, who elected to retire following a refusal. 

For more information on equestrian events at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games please visit www.lima2019.pe/en. 

- with files from Equestrian Canada, FEI

Main photo: Erynn Ballard and Fellini S. Photo: @Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Category: 
International
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