Final Day of the 2023 'Continental', presented by Rolex

June 11, 2023

John Perez (COL) & Gigi-Carmen © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley

Final Day of the Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ CSI5*/2*, presented by Rolex

June 11, 2023 (Spruce Meadows) - The final day of the Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ CSI5*/2*, presented by Rolex Tournament was ready to commence when the winds rolled in and brought with them some noticeable smoke from the Alberta wild fires. Immediate attention was brought to the situation in consultation sport federation guidelines, the FEI Veterinary Commission, health experts and data analysis of both the Air Quality Index and Air Particulate concentration. The data, and the experts, agreed that competition could continue with no additional health risks to either human or equine athlete.

The FEI does not have formal Poor Air Quality guideline but the Government of Canada (AQHI), Sport Canada (NF) and Equine Canada have guidelines in place for this type of environmental factor.

Of note, Spruce Meadow is located in the county of Foothills, south of Calgary, and as such often has very different environmental conditions than those reported from Calgary International Airport, some 40 KM north. Such was the case today with many of the thousands of fans on sight very surprised upon arrival at the quality of the air at Spruce Meadows compared to downtown Calgary, which had a reported index of 8+.

At 8:00 in the County of Foothills the Air Quality Index was a 6 which health guidelines indicate –“ no need to modify your usual outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.” It was determined with the OC, Veterinary Commission, and the FEI officials that, out of an abundance of caution, the morning events 1.10m, 1.20m, and 1.30m would be modified to one round competitions, for the health and welfare of equine and human participants.

The OC met again at 10:00am prior to start of the Canadian Utilities CSI 2* 1.45m Grand Prix.  At that time the Air Quality Index had dropped to a 4.  The guideline states no need to modify your usual outdoor activities. The competition proceeded as scheduled.

The OC met a third time at 2:00pm prior to the start of the ‘Continental’ CSI5* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex.  At that time the Air Quality Index had again dropped to a 3 on the air quality index. For the general populations this measure is ideal air quality to enjoy outdoor activities. It was determined to continue to compete considering the AQHI guidelines.

In addition, Spruce Meadows, in consultation with the Canadian Premier League (CPL), Canada Soccer officials and health authorities determined that the conditions were suitable to host the scheduled match between Cavalry FC and Vancouver FC kicking off at 3:00pm. The air quality at Kick off  was in the 3 -5 range in the County of Foothills. This is indicative of conditions that pose low health risk conditions and the air quality was expected to continue to improve with the weather conditions. With the Air Quality at a 3 there were no delays to the match and the game proceeded as scheduled.

John Perez (COL) & Gigi-Carmen © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley

Spruce Meadows 5* Win for John Perez (COL)

The ‘Continental’ CSI5* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex was the final competition and capped off a great week of show jumping. Athletes had to navigate the track designed by FEI Level 4 Course Designer Marina Azevedo (BRA) and clear 13 obstacles (16 jumping efforts) in under a time of 85 seconds.

After the first round of competition, four competitors passed all the tests and posted clear rounds, advancing to the jump off.

First up was Canada’s Mario Deslauriers aboard the reliable Bardolina 2. The pair put in a steady clear in a time of 51.22s. This put the pressure on the remaining three competitors. Darragh Kenny (IRL) was up next and carried a quicker pace, coming through the finish line in 47.53s clear and moving into first place. Lillie Keenan (USA) quickly followed but could not match the time and moved into second with a time of 48.46s.

Last into the ring was John Perez (COL) aboard GiGi-Carmen. Perez, a Spruce Meadows veteran, won a 5* Grand Prix earlier this year  in Xalapa, Mexico was ready to add a big Spruce Meadows win to his resume. The big, bay, mare jumped brilliantly and carried Perez through the finish line clear in a lightning fast time of 45.32s to secure the win. This was Perez’s first Spruce Meadows 5* Grand Prix victory.

“The facility (Spruce Meadows), the footing, the jumps, the atmosphere - everything is fantastic here” - John Perez on being back at Spruce Meadows for the 2023 FEI Tournament Season.

Conor Swail (IRL) & Gamble © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley

Conor Swail (IRL) and Gamble Win the Canadian Utilities CSI2* Grand Prix

Earlier this week riders in the FEI CSI2* division competed in the Mission: Possible 1.45m competition in order to qualify for today’s Canadian Utilities CSI2* Grand Prix.

Thirty-five horse/rider combinations tackled the two-round competition to start the day on the North American Ring but only six riders (representing 5 nations) posted clear rounds and advanced to the jump off.

Conor Swail (IRL) riding Gamble was ready to add another red ribbon to his collection. Swail edged out Nayel Nassar (EGY) by two hundredths of a second (43.43s compared to 43.45s) and galloped to victory.

Conor Swail (IRL) & Gamble with Nancy Southern (Chief Executive Officer ATCO & Chair and CEO Canadian Utilities) and Kirsten Mutter - the inaugural winner of the Spruce Meadows Groom Award, brought to you by El Tequileño  © Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley

Sam Walker (CAN) & Starkato © Spruce Meadows Media/Tony Lewis

The Best of the Rest

It was the final day of competition for all the riders of the Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ CSI5*/2*, presented by Rolex.

First up for today was The Entourage 1.30m on the All Alberta Ring. FEI Course Designer, Tom Holden (IRL) designed a track to challenge 46 horse/rider combinations. Today’s winner was Sam Walker (CAN) riding Starkato. The pair laid down a quick time of 66.85s that no one could touch.

Over on the Chinook Ring, FEI Course Designer Florencio Hernandez (MEX) and two competitions to round out the week. The Friends of the Meadows 1.20m and the Friends of the Meadows 1.10m featured two Canadian winners. Hannah Gould riding Carousel’s J’Adore was the winner of the Friends of the Meadows 1.20. and Katherine Kana riding Caviar of Picobelloz took the victory in the Friends of the Meadows 1.10m.

Hannah Gould (CAN) & Carousel’s J’Adore © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko

Katherine Kana (CAN) & Caviar of Picobelloz © Spruce Meadows Media/Bart Onyszko