Born in Normandy, France, Yann Candele’s parents encouraged both he and his older brother to actively pursue sports. Once Candele tried riding at the age of 10, horses became his main focus. A promising junior rider, Candele was twice named to the French team for the European Junior Championships, an international event for riders aged 14-18. Competing throughout Europe and sponsored by Samsung (France), Candele got his first taste of the big time.
Upon completion of his final year of school, Candele moved to Japan to work for Katsumi Yoshida, owner of thoroughbred racing’s Shadai Farm. Candele won the 1991-1992 Asian World Cup League, making him the first non-Japanese rider to ever accomplish this feat. Unfortunately, quarantine requirements for his stallion, Orkey, prevented Candele from competing at the 1992 World Cup Final in Del Mar, California.
When Candele was forced to return to France to complete his required civilian service, luckily his athlete status allowed him to work in the cavalry unit. Having served ten months, Candele returned home to Normandy to work for Jean-Pierre Vilaut who provided Candele with top mounts including Palestro II, a selle francais stallion that had been leased to the fourth-placed Spanish team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. With Palestro II, Candele won three grand prix events, including CSI-A Cannes, to qualify for the French National Championships where they placed eighth overall.
In 1999, Candele moved to North America after a two-week visit with Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze turned into a full-time job of coaching, riding and training at Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stables, then based in Schomberg, Ontario. Candele continued to represent his native France and made his Nations’ Cup debut at the 2001 CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament in Calgary, AB. He also represented France at the 2004 World Cup Final in Milan, Italy, riding Mill Creek Sweet Dream.
In 2007, Candele opened his own training business, Normandy Hills, and began riding a string of top horses, including Mustique, Carlotta Singular and Game Ready, for owner Susan Grange in a partnership that would span six years. Soon after gaining his Canadian citizenship in 2009, Candele was named to the first of what would become many Canadian Equestrian Team appearances. In his major games debut, Candele rode Pitareusa as a member of Canada’s fifth placed team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. With Carlotta Singular, Candele was the traveling alternate for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In the fall of 2013, Showgirl was purchased by a group of owners, Watermark Group, committed to both Candele’s success and that of the Canadian Team. The pair quickly formed a strong partnership, leading Canada to victory in the 2014 Nations’ Cup in Wellington, Florida, before becoming the highest-placed members of Canada’s eighth-placed team at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Candele’s birthplace of Normandy, France.
At the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, Candele and Showgirl earned a team gold medal as part of the Canadian Team. The following year, Candele rode First Choice 15, also owned by Watermark Group, as part of Canada’s fourth-placed team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Candele is also a record holder, having won the Canadian Show Jumping Championship title on four consecutive occasions at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto. In 2010, Candele captured the title on Pitareusa, a feat he would repeat in 2011 and again in 2012, both times riding Game Ready. Making his debut appearance with Showgirl, Candele again claimed the Canadian Show Jumping Championship crown at the 2013 Royal Horse Show.
When not riding, Candele can be found on the golf course or cheering on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Candele and his wife, fellow show jumping athlete Jennifer Wallace Candele, have three children, Alexandre (2003), Tate (2005), and Mathilde (2009).
2007 chestnut Belgian Warmblood mare by Quadrillo x Burggraaf
Owner: Watermark Group