Even without Olympic champion Eric Lamaze at the helm, the Canadian show-jumping team has been winning medals at European tournaments this month.
The team finished third at a Nations’ Cup (team event) at Linz, Austria on Friday.
Last week, the same foursome finished tied for second at a Nations’ Cup in Lummen, Belgium.
The Canadian’s European tour, financed by Own the Podium, is following only a promotional league, which is a cut below the big leagues that Lamaze inhabits.
Friday, a team consisting of Canadian show-jumping champion Yann Candele, 41, of Caledon, Ont., Tiffany Foster, 27, of Schomberg, Ont., Jill Henselwood, 49 of Oxford Mills, Ont. and nine-time Olympian Ian Millar, 65, of Perth Ontario, finished third among 15 countries.
Millar rode Star Power, an 11-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding to eight faults (two rails down) in the first round, putting him in the unusual position of providing the drop score. (Only the top three scores in each of two rounds count). In the second round, Millar had four faults.
The stars of the show were the two female riders, relative newcomer Foster and Henselwood, a member of the Canadian team that won silver at the Beijing Olympics four years ago. Millar was also on that Olympic team.
Foster rode Victor, a 10-year-old gelding owned by Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable and one of his best clients, Artisan Farms, to only four faults in the first round and a clear round in the second.
Henselwood, aboard, George, equalled Foster’s effort.
Candele was the first rider into the ring in both rounds, and with Carlotta Singular la Magnifica, a mare owned by Sue Grange, to a four-fault first round. They produced the drop score in the second round with 12 faults.
“Third place out of 15 teams is very exciting,” said Terrance Millar, chef d’equipe of the Canadian team. “It is a good day to celebrate girl power.
“…It is uncharacteristic for Ian to have a drop score, but he came back strong. Yann had a good first round, but today, it was all about the ladies.”
Ukraine won the event, with a total of five faults, while Brazil was second with 12 faults. Canada had 16 faults. However, those teams did not field their best Olympic level riders.
A week ago, Millar was the star of the team, with two clean rounds aboard Star Power in Belgium.
With 12 faults, Canada tied Belgium for second place behind Italy, but they defeated powerhouse Germany, with Spain and Mexico tied for fourth. They also defeated the Swiss and the British team. But the countries they defeated did not include heavyweight horse and rider combinations.
Terrance Millar said the course was not an easy one, and several of the Canadian horse-rider competitors were new to this level of jumping.
All four Canadian riders will compete in the Sprehe Grand Prix of Linz on Sunday.