McKayla Langmeier jumps to ATCO Cup victory

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It’s almost as if McKayla Langmeier had a premonition.

“We were at dinner last night and I was saying how amazing it is to show in this ring because it’s just so much fun,” the 24-year-old rider explained, smiling broadly. “The atmosphere, everything about it … it’s an incredible feeling.”

And winning her first class in the International Ring?

“It’s kind of the icing on the cake.”

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Langmeier, a frequent member of the ribbon ceremony, finally took centre stage on the final day of the Spruce Meadows National show jumping tournament, winning the 1.45m ATCO Cup. The Connecticut rider, second in the jump-off, posted a time of 41.01 astride her 11-year-old mare Chadina and watched with great interest as nine strong riders came after her, attempting to eclipse her efforts.

The only one who did, time wise, was Irishman Conor Swail and My Lady Lavista in 40.43, but they took down the second last rail so it was all for naught.

“My mare is very quick in the air,” Langmeier said of Chadina, which she began riding almost four years ago. “So I knew I had that going for me. But I still knew I needed to do the leave-outs if I was going to have a shot at the time. Thankfully, she was right there with me.

“I always say when we go in the ring, I always know what’s going to happen with her. We just know each other so well. She’s a bit of a chestnut mare … we have a give and take there. But when she shows up in the ring, she’s awesome to have. I knew she was capable of going as fast as I needed her to go.”

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Daniel Coyle, a member of Ireland’s 2024 Olympic contingent, was second on Jasper, while Canada’s Kyle Timm, who is in the conversation for this country’s team for Paris, was third aboard Atomica Des Sequoias Z.

If you don’t count the rather frigid temperature, the weather wasn’t a huge factor on Sunday. It rained in the morning but the moisture held off for both the ATCO Cup and the ATB Cup. It did begin to sprinkle in the latter class, just in time for the jump-off.

Seven horse-rider combinations took to the slick course and, in the end, it was Britain’s Matthew Sampson – no stranger to blustery conditions – who copped the 1.50m ATB Cup aboard One Whisper. The two made it clear through the shortened course in 41.38, beating Australia’s Katie Laurie and Django II by more than a second. Toronto’s Sean Jobin was third with Coquelicot VH Heuvelland Z.

“To be honest, I’ve been a bit slow this week,” admitted the 34-year-old Sampson, the 88th ranked rider in the world. “I’ve been fourth twice. I just wanted to go as fast as I could without taking a risk. Luckily, it paid off.”

Sampson and One Whisper also won a five-star event during last week’s Continental tournament. One Whisper is the daughter of Daniel, the stallion with which he finished fourth in Saturday’s Grand Prix.

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“I’ve had her for a short period of time,” Sampson explained. “She’s been incredible. She’s so careful. I think these types of rings, you can keep going forward to the jump and you know she’ll back off when you get there and try and jump it.”

Spruce Meadows has become Sampson favourite show, ever since he first showed up three years ago and immediately began putting his name in the record book.

“Without doubt, they’ve been two of the best weeks I’ve had in terms of consistency,” he said of this summer series. “Both the horses have tried to perform. They’ve both been incredible.

“Personally, I absolutely love Spruce Meadows. I love jumping on grass. I believe the horses get so much confidence being here. Both my horses have come out of the two weeks fresh and they still feel good and ready for the weeks ahead.”

Sampson – who along with girlfriend Kara Chad owns a farm in England — flies back to Belgium for a show with some young horses this week and will return here for the last two tournaments of the summer. Chad, who is typically also in her native Calgary during the summer, is at their farm, working with those younger mounts.

Horses and riders will enjoy a breather for a week before returning to the competitive rings for the Pan American, June 27-30.

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