Robert Blanchette (IRL) and Chardonnay win the Sun Life Derby to Bring the Spruce Meadows Summer Tournament Season to a Close

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Robert Blanchette (IRL) & Chardonnay © Spruce Meadows Media/Mike Sturk

Edited Press Release

July 9, 2023 (Spruce Meadows) – The final day of the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ CSI5*/2*, presented by Rolex brough tens of thousands of fans to the grounds to wrap up a great summer season of show jumping. The Sun Life Derby was the feature event of the day and the crowds were ready to cheer the 16 entries on.

The signature derby course was modified in 2022 by FEI Course Designer Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) but modeled after the original designed by the great Pamela Carruthers (GBR). There is over 1 kilometer of track, 18 obstacles (24 jumping efforts), yet to be jumped clear and under the time allowed of 158 seconds.

Sixteen athletes representing 8 countries stepped through the iconic Clock Tower once more hoping to take a piece of the $145,000 purse of the Sun Life Derby. Robert Blanchette (IRL) was the second rider into the ring and put some major pressure on his competitors by navigating the derby track with no faults. Now Blanchette had to sit on the sidelines and wait to see if anyone else could also manage such a feat.

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© Spruce Meadows Media/Dave Chidley

Tenth into the ring was Jim Ifko (CAN) and his stallion, Un Diamant des Forets. After watch a number of competitors have rails throughout the course Ifko was ready to make no mistakes. A hard bounce on the final fence of the Devil’s Dyke, but it stayed up and Ifko posted the second clear round of the day – there would be a jump off.

Two was the final number of riders in the jump off with no one else posting clear rounds. First into the ring was Blanchette, he laid down a clear round in the jump off with a time of 39.01s.

Ifko and Un Diamant des Forets came into the ring for the jump off, they had to be clear and fast. Unfortunately they were not fast enough to catch Blanchette, crossing the finish line in a time of 39.69s and into second place.

Well deserved treat for Chardonnay after a clear round in the Sun Life Derby © Spruce Meadows Media/Tony Lewis

“You can go to a a show and you think you’re you think you’re almost invincible, and then you come here (Spruce Meadows) and you think, shoot, I can’t jump that. And then by the end of the tournament, you can jump it. I think get on your pony bareback and gallop around, jump up and down on the fields. Don’t just don’t just go to a flat ring and get to take riding lessons. Go and have fun on your horse and get to know it.” – Robert Blanchette (IRL) on competing at Spruce Meadows for the full suite of summer tournaments and finding success in the Sun Life Derby.

Original press release courtesy of Spruce Meadows.