Canadian show jumper Isabelle Lapierre isn’t afraid to roll the dice.
After all, it was a gamble that landed her, her top mount—Cescha M—in the first place.
“The first time I saw the horse was at an auction in Europe. I was there just to watch because we didn’t think about buying a horse at that moment,” recalled the Quebec-native. “I saw someone trying her and jump really, really big.”
When the mare’s owner was forced to sell a year later, Lapierre got the call. “The guy called and said, ‘I have a horse for you. You have to buy it now because I think it’s going to be very easy to re-sell her to somebody else.'”
Trusting her gut, Lapierre took a chance on the 2007 KWPN mare:
“I didn’t really try her. We just went with what I saw the year before. You just have to take a chance sometimes.”
On Sunday, that risk paid dividends.
Lapierre and Cescha M made their Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier debut in Bromont, Quebec and posted a clear in the first round. It was the first leg of the 2017/2018 North American League (NAL) and the mare’s first ever Qualifier.
Third to go in the six-horse jump-off, she laid it all on the line in the Luc Musette (BEL) designed course.
“The turn to number 15, I went blind to the distance and I just kept going. To the last jump, I just kept going as fast as I can hoping for a distance and hoping she’ll jump it clear!” laughed Lapierre.
The bet paid off. The French Canadian rider pipped Alberta’s Jenn Serek to the post by three hundredths of a second, capturing her first ever World Cup Qualifier win. With her father watching ringside, Lapierre says it was her home soil advantage.
“Every time I jump here, I feel that the crowd is with me, so I think that’s why I went faster than Jen. The crowd was pushing, like ‘Come on!’ so I had an advantage. I did good and my horse jumped well, but I had the crowd behind me. That was the difference,” she smiled.
Whether Lapierre and the ten-year-old mare try their hand at qualifying for the World Cup Final in Paris remains to be seen. She has 13 more opportunities to collect points in North American League this season. But ultimately, only two Canadians will book a ticket to France.
“We’re going to have to think about it and maybe chase the points,” said the 38-year-old rider.
“The whole year, we plan the shows that I went to to be ready for this class—to see what she was going to do in a World Cup Qualifier. So we did that and she won. Now we have to think differently. Now we know that she can do it, so the plan will be around that next step. We have to think hard and make [new] plans. It’s completely different now.”
Whatever they decide, the smart money is on a promising future for her and Cescha M.
“It’s very hard to find a nice horse at that level,” said Lapierre, “and to find one that wants to win as much as me, it’s amazing.”
Missed the class? Catch the jump off for the FEI World Cup Bromont here:
Next stop on the NAL Calendar: Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC. The World Cup jumping action heats up in two weeks time on the West Coast. T