Tiffany Foster would define her current string as up and coming.
In her group of international horses competing at Thunderbird Show Park’s CSI4*-W Harvest Celebration, not one is above 10 years of age.
But despite that number, Artisan Farm’s bay gelding Galino has always exuded a maturity beyond his years.
“He’s always been a bit of an old soul, so I’ve been able to compete with him sort of the whole time I’ve had him,” Foster said.
Artisan Farms acquired the gelding from Ronan McLaughlin of Ireland as a seven-year-old. He had been campaigned as a young hose by the likes of Gavin Harley (IRL)—who now rides for both Schuyler Riley’s (USA) Wolfstone Stables and Missy Clark and John Brennan’s North Run in the U.S.—as well as Sweden’s Antonia Andersson.
Foster was able to jump almost immediately into FEI competition, and despite a gap in the calendar due to the ongoing pandemic, this pair has already shown from Dinard (FRA) to Mannheim (GER), Wellington (USA) and Calgary (CAN).
But while “Gino” has been a regular on the podium, on Saturday at tbird, he earned a well-deserved first international win, topping the CSI4*-W $15,000 Winning Round 1.45m.
“He’s one we’ve really been developing. He’s a really competitive horse,” Foster said. “He’s really fun to enter in classes like this, because I always know I have a bit of a shot.”
To win, the pair needed to take a shot, as Justin Prather (CAN) and his longtime mount E Z Ace set a quick standard over Peter Holmes’ (CAN) shortened track. Despite the pressure as last to go, Foster oozed confidence as she entered the Thunderbird Jumper Arena. The first half of the course was exceptionally smooth, but as the pair sped toward the final two fences, each preceded by sharp rollback turns, she turned up the heat. Galino stumbled, and one of his boots went flying.
“He slipped a little bit in the turn, but I’d seen my distance and I was pretty committed to it,” Foster said. “I think that’s probably where we won it.
“Everything was flying! Sand was flying, we were flying,” she exclaimed. “By the time I looked up, [the distance] was there. My horse was really with me in that turn, and that’s very important in those situations. If the horse isn’t with you, a slightly long distance becomes a very long distance. Thank you, Gino for that!”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a rider more synonymous with the Langley venue that Foster, who, while born in Vancouver, moved to the area shortly thereafter. She grew up showing at tbird, from the junior hunters and junior jumpers to, eventually, FEI World Cup and Nations Cup competition. Her mother, Lynn Foster manages tbird’s presentations. The pair shared a win photo Saturday afternoon, before Foster took the time to pose with a small fan, who, delightedly, was introduced to Gino.
While Foster’s schedule is more international nowadays, while the calendar was put on pause last year, she based at tbird and used the facility to develop her string. She’s seeing that decision pay off.
“I think that throughout that year, I was really able to put some great mileage and develop these horses. I thought, ‘This is a bit of a gamble. I’m going to see what it looks like by the time I got to WEF,’ and I ended up with a bunch of horses ready to go,” she said. “I think that was really time well spent.”
The time also sparked an idea. After jumping on the expansive grass field that is the Fort Grand Prix Arena, Foster collaborated with Thunderbird CEO Jane Tidball and Thunderbird President Chris Pack to try something new. After a successful Harvest Welcome CSI2* last October, the Harvest Celebration has created an atmosphere that more closely resembled an indoor World Cup by utilizing the Thunderbird Jumper Arena.
“Last year was actually the first year that this show was born in the sand ring, when we jumped some big jumps out there, which was sort of the brain child of mine and Chris and Jane,” Foster said. “I said, ‘Listen, we’ve jumped the whole summer out on the grass. Maybe we do something a little different and make it feel like a bit of a different show since we were just in one spot last year.'”
Foster will jump 10-year-old Hamilton in Sunday’s $150,000 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver, the opening leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League, set for 2pm PT.
“I think everybody is excited to ride in this ring. It’s really changed,” Foster said. “Having Longines here heightens and elevates things, and it feels like a really high level.”