August 6, 2017—Who could have predicted it? The biggest names in this afternoon’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Bromont didn’t get near the podium, which was dominated instead by riders aboard three horses making their debut in a competition of this caliber.
Last year’s winner, Jonathan McCrea on Aristoteles V, failed to qualify for the six-horse jump-off during the first leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League for the 2017-2018 season. Ditto Callan Solem (VDL Wizard), Leslie Howard (Donna Speciale) and most surprising of all, 18-year-old whiz kid Lucy Deslauriers. She had been a star through two shows at the historic Bromont grounds that hosted the 1976 Olympic equestrian events, but a knockdown at the last fence–a 1.60-meter vertical topped by an easy-to-tip white plank– scuttled her chances with Hester.
As it happened, the top three finishers in the $130,000 (Canadian) feature all came from the first half of the 32-entry class that was tested over a course with several options, designed by Luc Musette of Belgium. Isabelle Lapierre, a 38-year-old professional based about 10 minutes from Quebec City, made her trip to Bromont worthwhile with the powerful mare Cescha M. She earned $42,900 for a tie-breaking round in which she ripped along in 43.39 seconds.
Isabelle knew exactly what she had to do, because moments before she entered the arena, Jenn Serek—second twice previously during the week at Bromont—had turned in a clocking of 43.70 seconds on Wicked.
Cescha responded to Isabelle’s need for speed.
“To the last jump, I just kept going as fast as I can, hoping for a distance and hoping she was going to jump it clear, and she did,” said Isabelle, in her charming French accent.
“To come here, it’s very special. I don’t show here a lot. Every time I jumped here, I feel the crowd is jumping with me. That’s why I went faster than Jenn; the crowd was pushing me, so I had an advantage.”
She and Jenn, who is from Calgary in western Canada, had the only clear rounds in the tie-breaker. At the end of the competition, all eyes were on Charlie Jacobs, who had qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals two years in a row. But his hopes ended early as he had a rail down at the first fence with Cassinja.
The top-placed U.S. rider was Heather Caristo-Williams, third on Qui Vive des Songes Z (Google Translate says that means “Who lives, dreams”) with a rail down in a clocking of 45.73 seconds.
She nearly didn’t make the jump-off, though, when she was penalized 4 faults for a knockdown that she hadn’t noticed. When she came out of the ring, however, people told her the rail hadn’t fallen until she passed through the finish timers. Asked to review the situation, the judges decided she was clear of the timers and so, she said, “thankfully I was reinstated into the jump-off after a whirlwind of emotion. I was able to get my head back on my shoulders” and prepare for the final round.
Heather’s horse came from Switzerland and her mentor, Gerhard Etter, for whom she had worked when she was getting started in her career.
She got the 11-year-old Zangerheide stallion by Quaprice Z as a 6-year-old. “The first oxer I jumped, I got jumped so loose and I said, ` Yes, there’s a big jump in here.’ I spent the next five years trying to figure out how to stay with it.”
Wicked’s performance left no doubt in Jenn’s mind about what to pursue. He’s headed for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Langley in British Columbia next as she pursues her ambition. To find out more about Jenn and her horse, go to www.facebook.com/practicalhorseman tomorrow for a link to her video.
With Isabelle’s victory, her, year suddenly gained the potential to be turned topsy-turvy. Everything during a successful season had been building up to competing at Bromont. The question is whether she will be going to other Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifiers in an effort to make the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals in Paris next April.
The answers will come in a discussion with her mother.
“She’s the boss. We always dream of everything, but my mom is very down to earth. We said, `We’re going to do Bromont and then we’re going to sit down and make a plan.’ Now we have to do it.”
Isabelle first saw the Dutchbred Cescha jumping at an auction in Holland, and was impressed, but someone else bought her. Then when the owner had to sell, she didn’t hesitate to purchase the mare because she remembered her so well from the auction.
“You just have to take a chance sometimes with horses like that. It’s very hard to find a nice horse at that level, and to find one that wants to win as much as me, that is amazing,” said Isabelle.
To learn more about her and Cescha, who is by Diamant de Semilly, listen to what she has to say in this video.
The riders were thrilled with improvements to the footing at Bromont, which had been a source of concern in years past. But huge effort has gone into it under the direction of the show’s mastermind, Roger Deslauriers, father of Mario Deslauriers and grandfather of Lucy.
Jill Henselwood had competed in a number of classes during two weeks at Bromont, but lacked a horse for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Bromont and could only look on a bit wistfully from the sidelines.
“The footing here with the improvements they’ve made, might be the nicest footing in North America for a horse,” she believes.
“There’s just enough give. There’s just that little bit of a sand element in it. Not one horse has slipped in the practice ring or in the main ring in two weeks. We’ve had a deluge of rain and (it’s been) hotter than hot and humid, and the footing has been incredible. I would say this venue, with the atmosphere here for sport is one that makes all riders better. They sense that the crowd is with them; there is a crowd and our sport needs that.
“Bromont has come through from the Olympics to now. Yes, there were stages where it needed to update; now it has updated plus. I think it’s going to again become one of the premier show jumping venues for Canada. The crowd has witnessed great sport here, but today with Longines and the World Cup, you have top sport.”
Look for more photos at www.facebook.com/practicalhorseman.
I’m getting prepared for a busy late summer and autumn. My next stop is Labor Day weekend at the Hampton Classic, so look for my postcard from there.