A familiar name from the past is back competing for Canada in international show-jumping circles – and, as with any story involving the return of the prodigal, everyone around Spruce Meadows couldn't be happier.
At 19, Mario Deslauriers became the youngest rider ever to win the World Cup of show jumping. It happened in 1984, in Gothenberg, Sweden, aboard Aramis; a breakthrough moment for Deslauriers, who went on to become a fixture on the Canadian show-jumping team for decades.
But after twice riding for Canada in the Olympics – in 1984 and 1988 – Deslauriers began to ride internationally for the United States in 2009, after getting his U.S. citizenship. Deslauriers had been recruited to ride for Jane Clark, an influential U.S. owner, one who gave him access to a level of horses he wasn't getting in Canada.
But now, with the Spruce Meadows Masters CSIO 5 tournament set to open on Wednesday, Deslauriers is back where it all started, riding for Canada again. He will be one of four riders selected by chef d'équipe Mark Laskin to compete for Canada in Saturday's BMO Nations Cup. The starting field includes the entire medal podium from the team-jumping event at the 2014 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (France, the United States and Germany), as well as defending champion Switzerland, plus Canada, Belgium, Italy and Brazil.