Team Canada looking good in advance of the World Equestrian Games
Mark Laskin optimistic about this nation’s chances at glory in show jumping
There are still a couple of months of heavy lifting prior to the 2014 World Equestrian Games, but Mark Laskin likes where Canada stands in the grand scheme of things.
“I’m very happy with the progression,’’ said Laskin, chef d’equipe of this nation’s show jumping team. “I kind of know who I want to be there and it’s just a matter now of them fine-tuning and maintaining and hopefully all the horses are intact at that point. But if I feel if we get there with the horses we hope to have with these riders, we have as good a chance as anyone.”
The World Equestrian Games take place at the beginning of September in Normandy, France.
The Spruce Meadows summer series is terrific preparation for that most important event, as will be the Nations’ Cup in Aachen, Germany, in mid-July, which Canada has been invited to for the first time in 18 years. That squad will consist of the usual suspects: Eric Lamaze, Yann Candele, Ian Millar, Tiffany Foster and relative newcomer Chris Sorensen.
“I think it’s really important,’’ Laskin said of Canada’s inclusion as one of eight competing nations at Aachen. “We certainly didn’t have the opportunity because it was locked in the Super League and we were not part of the Super League. It was difficult for us to compete week in and week out in Europe, which is the commitment that was required.
“But, yeah, to be able to go to Aachen, one of the most prestigious venues in the world and to measure yourself against that type of competition, especially in a World Equestrian Games year with a team that is greatly made up of the horses and riders that we’re targeting for Normandy, yeah, I think it’s huge to get a read where we’re at and what we need to do in order to be better prepared a month and a half later.’’
Lamaze, whose two-year-old partnership with Powerplay has garnered some important results, will once again be the anchor.
“He’s battle tested that horse in big competitions,’’ Laskin, 56, pointed out. “We were at the FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona last year and Powerplay and Eric were one of only two horses to jump double clean in that competition. All the best teams in the world were there and it was definitely a major championship atmosphere. That’s a known commodity.
“I’m confident in all of them because they’re all real riders. They’re not amateurs, pretend riders. These guys get the job done when the chips are down and I can count on them. I’m always confident in our riders, when I have that kind of a group together, and as long as the horses are good enough, which I really believe that they are, anything can happen and usually with us it’s good things.’
Sorensen, 32, has made appearances on Canadian teams recently and is looked upon as a face of the future.
“I call them the next generation,’’ Laskin said, “and since I got involved we’ve instituted a young rider program and a developing rider program, sort of like developing a farm system for a hockey team. And I think we’re starting to reap some of the dividends of that. We’ve been the beneficiaries of some funding from Own the Podium in the last six years and that’s really helped us to send some of these developing tours around the world so that they can gain Nations Cup experience. Definitely Chris has been a part of that program.
“Kara Chad came up through the young rider program; Ben Asselin came up through the young rider program, now they’ve graduated to the developing rider program and onward and upwards hopefully.
“Ian and Eric are two of the greatest riders in the history of show jumping anywhere in the world, but they’re not going to be around forever and we do need to replace them.’’
Calgary Herald - July 3, 2014