With a total of just four faults, following double clear rounds from Rolf-Göran Bengtsson with the KWPN stallion Ermindo W (Singapore x Carinjo HDC) and Jens Fredricson with SWB gelding Markan Cosmopolit (Cohiba VDL x Acorda), it was a magnificent win for team Sweden in the $600,000 BMO Nations Cup. The team had only competed here once previouisly, in 2019, although Bengtson recalled an individual visit in 1994, saying: "I don't remember everything about that time, but it's a fabulous place."
Henrik von Eckermann, who chose to ride Nababette Z (Nabab de Rêve x Gasper), a paternal granddaughter of Quidam de Revel, jumped a superb first clear round, before disaster struck in round two: Elimination for jumping the wrong side of the water obstacle in the middle of the Spruce Meadows arena. He later explained: "She jumped good in the first round, and felt great starting the second round. I wanted to take 11 strides to the water, but three strides out she grabbed the bit, my steering was out of fuction, and she saw the other water...". Talking about his first round, he said: "It was very special for me because the previous rider hadn't jumped great, and already the crowed cheered when I jumped the fourth fence." (Laughing) "I thought I'd already won. With Covid we really missed this type of crowd, so it's great to jump in front of crazy good fans."
With the Swiss and Dutch teams nipping at their heels, von Eckermann's elimination round would have to be considered as the drop-score, putting pressure on the remaining three riders to maintain clean slates, especially after Switzerland finished on their first-round score following clear rounds from Pius Schwizer/Vancouver de Lanlore, Edouard Schmitz/Quno, Martin Fuchs/Commissar Pezi – with anchor rider Steve Guerdat being sidelined with Albführen's Maddox.
Thankfully, two double clears plus a final four-fault found from anchor rider Peder Fredricson riding the 16-year-old SWB gelding Catch Me Not S (Cardento x Ramiro's Son I) gave the Swede's a final score of four, ahead of Switzerland's seven faults. Peder said; "I'd hoped I wouildn't have to ride at all, but I knew the pressure was on. It didn't start off great as I had an early fault, but today I managed to get the job done." He continued by saying; "It's my first time here. I grew up hearing about Spruce Meadows – always very big fences, short time, very difficult courses, and now I'm here I know everything I've been told is correct."
Peder's elder brother, Jens, added; "It's amazing because this team has been riding together all our lives in one way or another. Peder and Rolf started in the same club, so we're all very good friends, and with Henrik we're the top of the world."
Bengtsson continued by saying: "This is something you build for a long time. You know what you can do and what's not so good. You go on the course in your own bubble and figure out how to do it with your horse."
In conclusion, Henrik Ankarcrona, the Swedish team chef d'equipe since 2016 said; "It's a bucket list. Every showjumper in the world knows a little about Spruce Meadows, and just to come here and see it and to ride and fight for the trophy, and to finally put out name on it... I'm super proud of the team. It's the beauty of the Nations Cup – always really exciting. For sure it's the golden age of showjumping in Sweden right now, and something I'll tell my kids and grandkids about."
Full results can be found at https://www.sprucemeadows.com