Video: Canada conquers Ocala in opening Nations Cup win

Credit : Starting Gate Communications

Monday 19 February - 15h30 | Ian Clayton

Video: Canada conquers Ocala in opening Nations Cup win

Calm, cool, collected. 

 - Video: Canada conquers Ocala in opening Nations Cup win

Tiffany Foster and Brighton
Credit : Starting Gate Communications

The experience of Olympians Ian Millar and Eric Lamaze shone through Sunday as Canada’s national Show Jumping squad won the opening Longines FEI Nations Cup qualifier of the 2018 season in Ocala, Florida. 

The FEI Nations Cup series is equestrian sport's oldest and most prestigious team challenge, with national teams from around the world competing for one of the top prizes in the Olympic discipline. Last year, Harrie Smolders and the Netherlands took the title in Barcelona.

In Florida, Millar and Dixson and Lamaze and Coco Bongo both rode double-clear rounds (see highlights below) to take the first of three qualifiers in the North/Central America & Caribbean League, as countries aim for one of the two spots available to the region at the 2018 Final, also in Barcelona.

“Eric and I are like the bookends,” Millar joked about himself and his long-time teammate and current World No.12 Lamaze. “You just have to put someone in the middle and away we go and do our best to deliver!” The other riders for Canada in the Sunshine State were Tiffany Foster on Brighton and François Lamontagne on Chanel du Calvaire. 

But the Canadians, who won $128,694 in Florida collectively, with bonuses for Millar and Lamaze, were up against world-class rivals in Ocala – notably a star-studded American team of McLain Ward (HH Callas), Laura Kraut (Confu), Elizabeth Madden (Darry Lou) and Lauren Hough (Ohlala). The Americans, 2nd place at last year’s Final in Barcelona, tied for 3rd this time, with Ireland, behind fellow visitors Brazil, but nonethless captured the second-highest amount of points as the runner-up regional team. Ahead of qualifiers in Coapexpan, Mexico in April and Langley, British Columbia in June, the Canadians now have 100 points with the U.S. at 75 and Mexico – 6th in Ocala – 55.  

Elsewhere in the world this weekend, New Zealand opened the global competition calendar with its first Nations Cup victory, in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The Kiwis’ Samantha McIntosh and Check In clinched the victory in a jump-off against Ireland’s Shane Breen, on Laith. While the New Zealanders do not pick up points for the win, they did earn 64,000. 

"It’s ridiculous, it was like watching a movie, honestly I never thought we could do it!", McIntosh said afterwards. Highlights from the Arab League qualifier are here. The global 2018 Nations Cup calendar can be seen here. Video below by the FEI.

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