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Canada Competes at World University5 Equestrian Championships

Source :  CURCA

Team Canada
Canada had the distinct pleasure to compete at the 5th ever World University Equestrian Championships (WUEC) that is held every two years. Seventeen countries from Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and North America participated. Riders were selected by each country based upon previous results at Student Riding Nations Cups (SRNC). As such, the calibre of student riders was extremely high with many successfully competing at the Grand-Prix level. Most countries elected to send a team consisting of three top riders who excelled in one of the following disciplines: dressage, show jumping, and eventing.

Canada elected to send Claire Danby (Montreal, Qc), Jody Fraser (Cobden, ON), Jason Baillargeon (Stitsville, ON), and Janet Rowe (Etobicoke, ON) as Chef d´Equipe/alternate. All of these riders had successfully competed at at least two previous SRNCs.

All rounds consisted of a knock-out system whereby the rider competes against two other riders on the same horse. The rider who receives the highest score advances to the next round. The first round cuts the field from 51 competitors to 18. In the first round in dressage, Canada faced Thailand and the powerhouse Germany who have dominated the past three WUECs including all possible gold medals at WUEC 2000 in Bern, Switzerland. Canada was able to out ride Thailand but despite some strong scores could not beat the Germans who went on to win team Gold dressage. Chef d´equippe Janet Rowe was pleased by the performance and stated: "We didn´t lose to the Germans, we just got beat by a team who had riders representing Germany at the World Equestrian Games this year. Interestingly, after the rounds were completed, the Germans were quite concerned that Canada would receive higher scores as was the case with many other observers."

In the first round showjumping was based on style. Canada faced Austria and the host country Belgium. Claire Danby rode well but was beat by Gudrun Wisgrill of Austria. Jody Fraser showed beautiful style and surpassed her two competitors and advanced to the second round. In the second round, Table A style, Jody faced riders from Italy and Germany. All three riders went clear and she was able to score higher than her Italian counterpart but lost to Frank Ostholt of Germany who went on to win the Individual Combined Gold medal.

Jason Baillargeon was given an extremely difficult mount ridden by two other excellent riders, one competing at the Three Star level in Eventing and the other at the Two Star. Fresh off his first One Star, Jason's innate ability to get the best out of a difficult horse rose to the surface and he was able to out ride his extremely experienced competitors. In the second round Jason rode against riders from Sweden and Italy. Both Annika Metander of Sweden and Jason went clear. It went down to style where both riders scored identical marks. As a result of a Wildcard spot in the third round, both Annika and Jason were able to advance. In the third round Table A speed, Jason again faced Annika of Sweden. However this time, his arch enemy Annika got the best of him and she advanced to the semi-finals and consequently won the Silver. Jason later joked that he knew he was going to have an interesting ride when he said "You know it's not going to be pretty when you first pat the horse before getting on and it swings its leg forward and stomps your toe and at your one of two warm-up jumps it stops and sends you forward in a compromising position in the saddle." In fact this very dilemma Jason faced is quite common as the riders are only given 5 minutes to warm up and acquaint themselves with the horse before going in to compete.

Canada ranked 10th place combined out of 17 countries. Individually Claire Danby ranked 36th Dressage, 42nd Showjumping for a combined placing of 47 out of 51 competitors. Jody Fraser ranked 47th Dressage, 9th Showjumping and combined she placed 31st. Jason Baillargeon placed 32nd Dressage, 8th Showjumping and was 15th combined.

If you are interested in competing on the Canadian Universities Equestrian Team at a SRNC in Europe (with the possibility of competing at the 6th WUEC 2004 in Tokyo, Japan), please contact the Technical Director of the Canadian Universities Riding Clubs Association (CURCA) at curca2001@yahoo.com or (416) 695-2038.

CURCA would like to thank the following Team Sponsors who helped pay for part of the team expenses or assisted through product or service donations:
Topline Trailer Sales & Maplelawn Coach Works
Mursatt Chemicals
Rio Vista Products
Byden Farm
Ms Kitty Bowland
Ashland Farm
Blok Pool and Spas
SSG Gloves (Fargo Trading Company)
Equine Canada

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