Team Ireland captures the 2023 BMO Nations’ Cup © Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk
September 9, 2023 (Spruce Meadows) - It was a full house aat Spruce Meadows today for the BMO Nations’ Cup. Seven teams were ready to take on the 520m course that featured 12 obstacles (15 jumping efforts) - all to be completed under a time of 78 seconds. The top six teams from the first round advanced to round two where they competed over an identical course. If any teams were tied for first on faults after two rounds, each team would nominate one rider to complete a jump off.
Team Ireland performed to a packed house at Spruce Meadows © Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk
Following the first round of jumping, defending champions Team Sweden would have to sit out round two and finish in 7th place. The remaining teams then prepared for the second round of competition.
The top of the table was tight and it came down to Canada, Ireland and Germany. It was quickly determined that Canada would take the bronze and if Ireland’s Bertram Allen jumped clear, they would take gold. The stadium was quiet as Allen entered the ring and as the cleared the final fence with no faults it was established that Ireland had won - a feat that had not been accomplished since 2001.
“I've never been here (Spruce Meadows) and I don't think there's too many big shows that I've haven't been to in the last ten years, at least once. And so it's, you know, it's a magical place here. I always wanted to come, but just from the championship or Dublin or the type of horse I had, I could never make it. So I made a plan this year to really set it as a goal, and yeah, it's fantastic. The feeling from Tuesday when I arrived to the whole thing around how big it is, how fast it is, the the history around the place and then yeah, then when you go through the clock tower into the main ring it's even more special. So it’s really, really nice to be here.” - Bertram Allen (IRL) on his first trip to Spruce Meadows.
Bertram Allen (IRL) is congratulated on a great round by teammate Conor Swail (IRL) © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko
The BMO Nations’ Cup was also the last opportunity for riders not yet qualified for tomorrow’s CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex to qualify (by posting 4 faults or less in the first round of competition).
1: Team Ireland
2: Team Germany
3: Team Canada
4: Team Great Britain
5: Team Belgium
6: Team United States
7: Team Sweden
Ben Maher (GBR) & Enjeu De Grisien © Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk
It was a beautiful morning to start Saturday of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and first up on the International Ring was the Suncor Winning Round (1.50m). Only the top 30 qualified riders from earlier in the week were eligible for the competition, with the top 10 from round one returning for the Winning Round in reverse order of merit.
Today 11 nations were represented in the Suncor Winning Round and of the top 10 returning for the Winning Round - eight of those nations represented. All of the top 10 returning posted clear first rounds, so the quickest of those clear rounds had the opportunity to watch the other competitors go.
Ben Maher (GBR) & Enjeu De Grisien © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley
The competition was fierce in the Suncor Winning Round - first into the ring was Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Maher (GBR) who posted a quick clear round crossing the finish line in a time of 54.70s - it was now a waiting game. Maher was holding on as Olympian Katie Laurier (AUS) was the final entry into the ring.
Laurie did not hold back, galloping hard around the course and posting a time of 52.92s but an unfortunate tack mishap and a rail placed her in 6th. Maher took top honours and to kick off British Day at Spruce Meadows.
Mimi Gochman (USA) is this year’s XEROX Rider of the Year. © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko
Each year Spruce Meadows presents the XEROX Rider of the Year award to a rider who has competed throughout the Spruce Meadows FEI Tournament Season and seen growth in their development as a rider.
This year, on her first ever Spruce Meadows season, young Mimi Gochman (USA) stepped into the International Ring ready to make her mark at Spruce Meadows. Pocketing over $95,000 in prize money during the Spruce Meadows Summer Tournament Series - including a win in the Kubota Cup (1.55m) at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex - Gochman began her climb of the FEI World Rankings List.
Prior to the start of the Spruce Meadows Summer Gochman was ranked 133rd in the world, prior to the start of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, she was ranked 90th. At just 18 years of age, Gochman is this year’s XEROX Rider of the Year.
Her Excellency, Susannah Goshko CMG, British High Commissioner to Canada opens British Day at Spruce Meadows with Linda Southern-Heathcott (President & CEO, Spruce Meadows), Nancy Southern (Chair & Chief Executive Officer, ATCO Ltd) & Marg Southern (Chairman, Spruce Meadows) © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko
Saturday of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ could also be known as British Day. Prior to the start of the BMO Nations’ Cup, the International Ring hosted the opening of British Day and a special presentation.
In 2020, her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded Linda Southern-Heathcott and Nancy Southern each a British Empire Medal in recognition of their valuable services. On behalf of the monarch, Her Excellency, Susannah Goshko, British High Commissioner to Canada, presented Linda and Nancy with their awards today.
The British Empire Medal is a British and Commonwealth award presented to individuals for their civil or military service that is worthy of recognition by The Crown. The awards recognizes Linda and Nancy’s service to British Equestrian, military and commercial interest in Alberta.
Her Excellency, Susannah Goshko CMG, British High Commissioner to Canada presents Linda Southern Heathcott & Nancy Southern with the British Empire Medal © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko
Katie Laurier (AUS) missing a stirrup in the Suncor Winning Round - finished in 6th © Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk
Katie Laurier (AUS) missing a stirrup and a broken martingale in the Suncor Winning Round - finished in 6th © Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley
We’re not sure how Katie stayed on….© Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko
Fans engage with our stadium host Jeff © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko
Bertram Allen (IRL) celebrates a clear round in the BMO Nations Cup © Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk
Lots of love for Figor from Tiffany Foster (CAN) the Canadians finished third in the BMO Nations’ Cup © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko
The Irish couldn’t help but smile and celebrate © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley
Ireland has their day in the BMO Nations’ Cup - they have not won the competition since 2001 © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley