Team Canada members Ian Millar, Tiffany Foster, Ben Asselin and Eric Lamaze were all smiles after winning the Gold Medal in the $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” Tournament in Calgary on September 13th. The youngest member, Ben Asselin, suprised everyone with two clear rounds riding Makavoy.
In the Silver Medal spot the USA team of Lauren Hough, Leslie Howard, McLain Ward and Beezie Madden continue their strong performances across the world with yet another team medal. Madden was the only other rider in the Nations’ Cup to post two clear rounds.
Belgium riders Pieter Devos, Olivier and Nicola Philippaerts, and Niels Bruynseels rode into the Bronze Medal position.
Asselin was 12 years old when he last watched the Canadian team win a Gold medal at Spruce Meadows. Even then his dream was to be on the Canadian team. He’s worked hard to finally achieve that goal but certainly never expected his first showing to bring him to the top of the winner’s circle.
Chef d’Equipe Mark Laskin finally gave in after 20-year-old Asselin repeatedly contacted him with notes of “I am ready, I can do this, Put me on the Team.” Laskin never knew at the time that doing just that would help bring Canada to a Gold medal victory.
“My horse was incredible today. I felt that I was on it,” Asselin later remarked. When asked if in his dream he thought his first outing would go this well Asselin remarked, with a smile, “I hoped it would go this well. It couldn’t have gone any better. I’ve dreamed about riding on a team with these guys for a long long time and coming out with a Gold medal is a pretty special experience.”
At the Nations Dinner, which took place the same evening, the top six teams were honored. When the US team came up to be honored Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland applauded his team members noting that Olympic Gold Medalists Ward and Madden have been the dominating forces behind quite a few team medals over the past few months including a Bronze at the recent Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy.
He continued noting that Hough has been a power to reckon with for the team and it was nice to see Olympic veteran Howard become back on a Nations’ Cup team. She helped the team win their Bronze by being the only other U.S. rider to post a clear round. She did that in round two of the BMO Nations’ Cup.
The final day for the Spruce Meadows “Masters” features one of the most important classes of the week. The CP International, presented by Rolex, boasts a record $1.5 million (CAN) up for grabs for the riders, all of whom would love to claim any of the top placings in that class.
For more information, go to www.sprucemeadows.com. To view more photos from this week go to http://www.dianaderosa.com/gallery3/index.php/Spruce-Meadows/2014.