New Zealand showjumper Katie McVean and her in-form mare Dunstan Delphi rode the round of their lives yesterday to beat Olympic gold medallist Eric Lamaze at Spruce Meadows in Canada.
McVean and Delphi finished second in the 1.5m World Cup grand prix, with Lamaze and Hickstead third, on the final day of the five-day Continental Tournament. The class, which attracted some of the best riders in the world, was won by Will Simpson (US) on Archie Bunker.
Only two combinations from the 45 starters made it through to the jump-off. McVean and Delphi had been 41st to go in the first round, with none clear. Lamaze had picked up a single time fault.
McVean said the course, by Olympic designer Leopoldo Palacios was extremely tough.
"The last line was a triple bar, on a curve, into a double of water trays," she said. "It was very tricky."
She opted to keep Delphi flying at the beginning of the round to ensure she had a little extra time up her sleeve at the end to allow an extra stride - and it paid off.
However, with just two in the jump-off, Delphi was first out and still hot from the first round.
"She's given so much in that first round and was still pretty knackered when we went out for the jump-off."
They took the first of the double followed by the planks over another very light course, giving them eight faults in 38.157. Simpson finished with four faults in 39.431.
McVean's second place bagged her C$18,000 ($24,780).
"Delphi is just so full of herself at the moment, but we just can't believe how well she continues to go - she's a star alright. It is all so exciting."
Delphi will now rest for a week before starting at the next World Cup show at Spruce Meadows.
Lamaze had to let a C$50,000 bonus slip through his fingers after finishing third.
McVean looks to be well on track to secure a berth in the New Zealand team at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in September.