The crowds return to Spruce Meadows Masters this year & Horseware Ireland is proud to be the exclusive blanket provider for the event. We’ll have boots on the ground for behind-the-scenes footage and daily updates about all the happenings during Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament.
Horseware Hero Rider Attending: Steve Guerdat
Steve Guerdat is bringing two of his horses to Spruce Meadows to compete in the Nations Cup on Saturday and Sunday’s highly prestigious Grand Prix. To sprinkle the event with even more excitement, Steve won the 2021 Grand Prix and is on the hunt for a win two years in a row! We’ll follow his journey throughout the week, so check daily for updates!
Sunday, September 11
Each year, the world’s best head to Spruce Meadows to compete in one of the most distinguished Grand Prix in the world, the $3,000,000 CP International Grand Prix presented by Rolex. This event is one of the four Grand Prix that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping. This helps attract the top athletes from all over the world. Today would see nine of the top 10 riders competing.
For the first time since 2019, crowds gathered for the event to cheer on their favorite riders. Forty horse and rider combinations competed over an initial course with the top 12 riders advancing to the second round. Scores for both rounds are combined together for a total score but should there be a tie, a third round that’s based on faults and time would decide a winner.
The stands were filled to max capacity as the first horse entered the ring. We patiently waited for Steve and Venard’s turn as they were deep in the order of go at 31 of 40. Only two riders before Steve had gone clear proving just how difficult the course was. As Steve walked in, the announcer reminded the crowd of his 2021 win and what an accomplishment it would be to do again. Steve and Venard headed through the start timer maintaining a beautiful pace, as though the team was floating across the ground and over the jumps. The first test would come mid-course after the water jump which headed towards an in and out that had been causing problems for previous riders. The pair sailed through the element and turned to head towards the next complicated element, a big vertical that lead to a single stride that began with an oxer. The duo made it look easy! They continued the course and had a big gallop to the final fence to stay inside the time allowed of 86 seconds and finished clear securing they’d advance to the second round.
Four of the twelve horse and rider teams advancing to round two had clear rounds. It started off exciting as more riders had 0 faults in this round, leaving several riders with a combined score of 4 faults. Steve was the first to go of the riders who had been clear and having another clear round would ensure a jump-off or a win based on the outcome of the riders that followed him. He and Venard entered the ring stoically, prepared for the mission ahead of them. One by one, the team successfully cleared each element. As they came to their final approach, a one stride featuring liverpools headed to a wide oxer to finish, the crowd quieted. They cleared the one stride, just one fence stood in the way of the day’s first double clear round. Steve rode the 5 strides to the oxer, Venard ticks the front rail with his front hoof but it stays up and the pair are clear!! Now the crowd was on the edge of their seats to see if the remaining riders would be clear as well, which two of the final three were. This meant a timed jump-off!
Steve would again be the leadoff rider for the tie-breaking round. A third round would test the fitness of both the horse and rider and now speed would also be a bigger factor. Steve picked up the pace as he navigated this final course of the Spruce Meadows Masters tournament. He rode strategically over each element but had an unfortunate rail mid-course. He finished with a time of 41.70 and 4 faults setting the bar for the following riders.
The next rider on course was Belgian rider Gilles Thomas that would acquire 4 faults and a time slower than Steves. It would all come down to the final rider, Germany’s Daniel Deusser riding Killer Queen VDM. Deusser had the advantage of going last knowing if he could just ride clean, even a few time faults would give him the win. He executed his plan perfectly and cleared his jump-off round in the allotted time taking the win.
We want to wish Horseware Hero Rider Steve Guerdat and Venard and HUGE congratulations on their second-place finish in this year’s Grand Prix! The pair had a successful event with just the one single rail in the Grand Prix jump-off for the entirety of the Masters tournament, a feat that should be recognized and celebrated.
For a full list of results, head over to the Spruce Meadows Masters results.
Saturday, September 10
The Nations’ Cup class is a team competition featuring four riders from participating nations. Each team rider jumps the course with the faults of each rider combined to a team score. Should a rider clear the round, the team receives a score of 0; for each rail that drops or the first refusal, the rider receives 4 faults. After all four riders compete, the team then gets to drop the highest fault score to receive their cumulative first-round score. The six teams with the lowest team score advance to the second round. The riders navigate through the same course again, with their faults added to the team score and the highest individual score being dropped. The team with the lowest total score takes the Nations’ Cup!
In today’s class at Spruce Meadows, eight competing nations would be in the chase for the elusive Nations Cup. Three of the competing teams are sponsored by Horseware Ireland, Sweden, the United States, and the Netherlands, and Horseware Hero Rider Steve Guerdat is competing with the Swiss team.
Team Sweden started out with a strong start with their first three riders all clear in each of their rounds allowing for their anchor rider, Peder Fredricson, the option to forego competing in the first class as their team received the lowest possible total score of 0. This is a great opportunity for the Swedish riders as now Peder’s horse would be fresher for the second round giving him an advantage.
Next, we had our eyes on Team Netherlands. The team rode brilliantly around the course with the first three riders all being clear, allowing their anchor rider, Johnny Pals, the option to compete or not. Knowing even if he had rail, his score would be dropped, Johnny decided to ride and had a rail down with two additional time faults for a total of 6 faults. As this was the highest score, it would be dropped and the team would advance to the second round tied with Sweden for a total score of 0.
The United States was the last of our sponsored federations in the order of go. Giavanna Rinaldi, the lead-off rider, would acquire the team’s lowest score of the day at 5 faults. Kent Farrington would add another 6 faults to the score. Nicholas Dello Joio would contribute a total of 8 faults which left McLain Ward as the final rider. After jump 2, McLain and his rider were unable to continue forcing Ward to pull up and retire. With a total team score of 19 faults, the USA team would not advance to the second round.
Horseware Hero Rider Steve Guerdat rode as the Swiss’ fourth rider. His three teammates had acquired a total of 7 faults, one rider with 3 time faults and one rider with a single rail. Steve was aboard Albfuehren’s Maddox, a 2011 bay Swedish Warmblood gelding. This same duo most recently received third place in the Anglesea Stakes CSIO 5* at the Dublin Horse Show last month. The pair looked as though they could be flawless, but a single rail would leave them with 4 faults keeping the Swiss’ total score at 7.
As the second round begin, the crowd’s excitement and anticipation would match it. Spectators clapped and cheers or gasped at the effort each horse and rider combo put forth navigating the course. The iconic Spruce Meadow jumps such as the bicycle jump or the wavy planks that sit on the flattest of jump cups didn’t seem to be as troublesome in this course. Instead, the last few elements seemed to be the most problematic elements. It started with a skinny, airy wall then five strides to an in and out that consisted of tall verticals. The final test for the rider was to decide whether to ride for the 5 or 6 to the final jump, which was a large oxer at the end of the ring.
In the second round, the Netherlands started strong with their first rider having another clear round. The remaining teammates would put forth a diligent effort finishing out the day with a total combined score of 8 faults, landing the team in third place.
With the Swiss team all being clear for their second rounds, Steve Guerdat opted to not ride as his score was not needed since the combined second-round score was 0. The Swiss finished with 7 total faults resulting in a well-deserved second place.
A pivotal point came with team Sweden. Their first two riders posted clear rounds however, in a turn of events, their third rider was eliminated leaving the chance of winning on their anchor rider Peder Fredricson. The horse and rider walked into the ring determined. They began their course and soon had one rail drop giving them 4 faults. Any other rail would take them out of the lead, but Fredrecison rode thoughtfully and his horse responded with clearly the remaining jump elements landing Sweden in the top position!
We are wishing a huge congratulations to our sponsored teams and riders on their eventful wins!
Now, we gear up for Championship Sunday featuring the $3,000,000 Grand Prix. The top 40 riders advance to the class including Steve Guerdat aboard Venard. Will Steve get a win two years in a row at Spruce? Only time will tell…
Friday, September 9
Another beautiful day at Spruce Meadows for the Masters tournament! The crowds are starting to build as we head into the weekend events. More spectators joined today for the 1.60m Tourmaline Cup that kicked off at 3:30pm MT.
Early in the class, horses and riders were tested to finish in the tight time of 71 seconds. Within the first few rounds, we saw several riders eliminated or retired to save their horse for another day. It seemed as though most riders’ strategies altered from quick and clean to focusing on clean rounds accepting time faults. A few time faults would hopefully be enough for a solid finish and qualify them for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Steve and Venard were set to go as the 26th pair through the intricate course designed by Leopoldo Palacios. The pair entered confidently and seemed to lope over the ground with Venard jumping lofty. With a lucky rub at the second to the last jump, the duo finished clean at 73.19 seconds, just outside of the time giving them three time faults.
The course proved complicated with only six pairs with clear rounds; of which two riders who already qualified for Sunday’s class chose not to participate in the jump-off. Congratulations to Steve and Venard for finishing out the top 10 with their effortless round.
Tomorrow we will be watching the BMO Nations Cup where Horseware Ireland supported federations, the USA, Netherlands, and Sweden, which make up three of the eight teams competing. Fingers crossed we’ll have exciting news to share tomorrow!
Please visit the Spruce Meadows website for the most up-to-date order of go and official results.
Thursday, September 8
Today started out crisp and overcast, a dramatic change from yesterday’s hot, sunny weather. We were focused on the prestigious International Ring with Horseware Hero Rider Steve Guerdat having two mounts in the $40,000 1.50m ATCO Cup that began at 10am MT. This class is used as a great introduction to the ring for the horse and rider teams. It gives a chance to get a feel of the grass and condition of the ring, though as competitors know, may change based on weather.
Eyes are closely watching Steve and his horse Venard de Cerisy as the pair won the 2021 Grand Prix. It was Steve’s first Grand Prix win at Spruce Meadows, adding another accolade to his already impressive list. But before fans can see this duo take the International Ring for the first time since their 2021 win, Steve would first compete with Albfuehren’s Maddox, the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood who most recently took third in the Anglesea Stakes at the Dublin Horse show in Ireland in mid-August.
Course designer Leopoldo Palacios composed 11 technical elements for horse and rider teams to navigate through. It started with a decent-sized oxer right next to the in-gate that lead to a more narrow wall jumping in the direction of the stands. As the course continues, it tests the pair with tall skinny verticals, wide oxers, and tight combinations. Albfuehren’s Maddox ended the day with 9 total faults coming from one rail and five time faults finishing the course in 72.19 seconds. Next, Steve would pilot Venard de Cerisy through the same course.
With Venard de Cerisy and Steve’s 2021 Grand Prix win, the pair are automatically qualified for Sunday’s class. With this secured, Steve looked to ride for a clear round with less emphasis placed on time. Venard looked bold in the warm-up ring but Steve appeared as stoic and methodical as always. The team went on to successfully complete a clear round, completing the course in a comfortable time of 78.03 and incurring 11 time faults, successfully executing Steve’s plan of riding clear without worry of time.
We look forward to tomorrow with the ATCO 6-Bar Challenge. Stay tuned for more exciting Spruce Meadows news!
Wednesday, September 7
Today was the first time since 2019 that Spruce Meadows opened its gates for spectators to join and watch the Masters tournament in person. Most riders were focused on light work and stretching their horse’s legs after the travel to the grounds. With two mounts for the tournament, Steve prepped for his first class on Thursday and we took the opportunity to wander the grounds visiting iconic features that Spruce Meadows is known for, such as the clock tower. We ended the evening with the rider welcome reception at the on-site art gallery, where Spruce Meadows’ President, Lina Southern spoke about the excitement of having spectators back at the event for the Masters. We look forward to seeing Steve compete with both horses in the $40,000 1.50m ATCO Cup tomorrow. He’ll be riding 22nd with Albfuehren’s Maddox and 49th with Venard de Cerisy.