Deslauriers saves the best for last

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

Usually the last horse/rider combination in a jump-off has an advantage.

Well, for yesterday's $30,000 Akita Drilling Cup, Bromont, Que.'s Mario Deslauriers, with his mount, Naomi, had a huge edge as all four others in the extra round had brought down rails, so all he had to do was go clear, watch his time and the $10,000 cheque for first place was in the bank.

Sure enough, the savvy veteran kept it clean and captured the title.

"It's always nice to go last and I knew everybody else had four faults, plus I knew my horse was just naturally faster than the other ones," said Deslauriers, who was an alternate for last month's world championships in Aachen, Germany.

"So it's a nice feeling going in like that."

Naomi is his 11-year-old Belgium Warmblood mare, who was ever so smooth in the International Ring.

American Mary McKenzie, while nearly three seconds faster than Deslauriers' time of 46.38 seconds, had a rail down and took second place with her mount Cirque du Soleil.

Germany's Holger Wulschner (Cool-Man) was third, while Stouffville, Ont.'s John Pearce (Urioso) was fourth, followed by Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ont.

HIGH-CALIBUR PERFORMANCE: Kelley Small didn't win the battle but she's making strides.

A third-place finish in yesterday's $40,000 CANA Cup marked the Canadian's strongest performance in the International Ring.

Her first ribbon at Spruce Meadows makes a perfect belated birthday present after she turned 23 on Wednesday.

"It would have been nice if this had happened yesterday but I'll take it,"said Small, who lives in Kanata, Ont.

Californian Will Simpson won the class with El Campeons Tosca, going clear in the jump-off in 41.010 seconds.

France's Eugenie Angot took second on Ilostra Dark with a time of 41.88. Small and Calibur, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, were also clear in 42.14.


Videos

Photos