Nations’ Cup day brought rain throughout the day at the 2013 Spruce Meadows "Masters" Tournament in Calgary Canada on Saturday, September 7. Sometimes it was just a drizzle while other times a downpour. Amazingly the footing in the arena, which did get a bit squishy and dug up, was handled well by the horses. Even more surprising was the number of spectators who came out to brave the rain. With their umbrellas and rain gear, they were not about to let the soggy weather dampen their spirits.
Course designer Leopoldo Palacios did not want to take any chances and so he only included the water jump in the first round of the $350,000 BMO Nations’ Cup. Despite the difficulty of the course when all was done three teams finished tied with 8 faults. This was a first in the history of the Nations’ Cup at Spruce Meadows.
Getting to that tie took a first round which started with teams from 8 countries which then was narrowed down to six countries for the final round. It was the team from the United States that was among the two to be eliminated after three of their four team members totaled 12 faults. Lauren Hough’s four faulter was a step in the water, while Kirsten Coe and Beezie Madden ended up with rails down. The elimination round was Lauren Tisbo who had a tough go accumulating 14 faults.
All was not at a loss for the U.S. because the Nations’ Cup followed the $125,000 Suncor Winning Round which gave US rider Kent Farrington and Blue Angel their second win of the week.
In order to clear the Nations' Cup tie, each team then chose one rider to represent them. Germany’s choice of teammate Hans Dieter Dreher aboard Colore proved to be the right one. He was the only one of the three who produced a clear round giving Germany a repeat victory, since they also won in 2012. Belgium took second and France third.
Clearly the German team, headed by Chef d'Equipe Heinrich Engemann, were over the top about their victory despite a mishap in the victory ceremony. Sadly, when teammate Lars Nieberg tossed his flowers to the groom it spooked his horse Leonie so much so that they both fell down. It was later announced that Lars ended up with a broken collarbone and had to leave the victory ceremony early and miss the evening’s Nations’ Cup party.
This evening gathering and sit down dinner was host to some 500 riders, trainers, media and guests and was elegantly set up in what they refer to as their Congress Hall, which throughout the year is host to dignitaries, politicians and high profile guests.
After a chance to meet old and new friends alike, guests all sat at round tables where they were each greeted by a beautiful gift. The woman received horse engraved bracelets while the men got horse engraved cuff links.
The highlight of the evening was having the top three Nations' Cup teams get up to talk and make a presentation followed by a heartfelt speech by Linda Southern-Heathcott, president of Spruce Meadows. She made sure to honor everyone present, from the grooms, to the competitors and their support staff, the 140 corporate sponsors, the media and especially all the Spruce Meadows volunteers.
There were a number of special comments made by those who took to the mike. “Spruce Meadows is as it is because of the magnetic personality of the Southern family,” was one comment that drew a standing ovation from those present.
The Southerns were provided with gifts and comments. Beer from Belgium because the best show deserves the best beer. A picture of roses was also given as a gift because roses signify passion and love which in this case is what everyone feels for the horse.
When Linda took to the podium she commented, “We do try to ensure that the smallest details is not overlooked.” She added that for the media they provided beauty, vivid colors, majestic sport and wonderful stories.
Music by the Irish Guards was a bonus to the evening as they marched to the stage in their rich red uniforms.
There wasn’t much time between the end of the show and the beginning of the evening gala but the full house attendance and many standing ovations was further witness to what a great show Spruce Meadows is.