Tiffany Foster didn’t technically cheat her way to victory in the $100,000 CSI2* Onni Group Grand Prix at Thunderbird Show Park. But, she admitted, the two horses she brought forward in the class may have given her an advantage over the field.
Her winning mount was Brighton, Artisan Farms’ 15-year-old winning machine who, despite his age, is truly in top form. The bay has won six FEI events since July, from the two-star to five-star level. In fourth, also with a double-clear effort, was the talented Figor, who is back after some time off after the winter circuit.
“I put two really strong horses in this class. I have my whole group here [in Langley] after Spruce Meadows, so it felt kind of like cheating, but whatever!” she joked.
Foster was strategic in selecting her mounts for Sunday’s final grand prix of tbird’s 2021 season. When she learned that close friends the De Cotiis family [of the Onni Group] were sponsoring the class, she decided to bring out her big timers.
Brighton was the obvious choice. Foster has been partnered with the KWPN gelding for eight years, first pairing with the bay when he was a seven-year old. He was a winner from the start, but he has shined brightest up to the 1.50m level, though he has won two 1.60m grand prix, one as recently as July. Foster credits much of the pair’s to success to playing to “Brighty’s” strengths. He prefers his left lead, working out of a rhythm with a big open, step…and winning.
“The Ziegler family [of Artisan Farms] never wanted to push him more than what he was good at,” Foster said. “I think that we’ve really managed him well, and I think the results show that.”
Brighton and Foster’s resume boasts a remarkable 24 wins at the international level, 11 at the five-star level. The wins span five countries, from North America to Europe, in classes of every format, from speed contests to winning rounds and grand prixs. The only thing missing from this horse’s resume is a championship, and while he hasn’t been best suited for that role, make no mistake: He is one of Foster’s all-time greats.
“He’s just an unbelievable horse,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever ride a horse like him again.”
Foster has identified her current string as “developing,” with the majority of the group just stepping up to the top level. Hamilton, Vienna and Galino are all just 10, while Figor is a year older at 11. In his World Cup debut, the exciting and scopey Hamilton was clear over the jumps for a top five finish in the $150,000 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver at tbird, while “old soul” Galino won the $15,000 CSI4*-W Winning Round 1.45m that same week.
Things are coming together for the string, who Foster hopes can bring her to the 2022 FEI World Championships for Jumping, which replaces the multi-disciplinary World Equestrian Games. The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals in Leipzig might also be in the cards.
“I’ll have to see what I think our team, the Canadian team, is really focused [on] and planning,” she said.
“If [World Cup Finals] seem like something that’s a good idea for Figor to do, I might do that. But I think the [World Championships] is the number one goal.”
Of course, Brighty will continue doing what he does best.
“I try to protect him now and just really aim for the classes that matter,” Foster said. “So, I gave him last week off and let him rest and then aimed him for this week. And yet again, he delivered.
“I can’t even express how much love I have for him.”