The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

Equestrian Canada – Mill Spring, NC, Sept. 15, 2018 – The Canadian Eventing Team made their move up the leaderboard after the cross-country phase on Sept. 15, 2018, currently holding 11th at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) in Mill Spring, NC.

Following the completion of the dressage phase on Sept. 14, team members, Lisa Marie Fergusson of Langley, BC, Colleen Loach of Dunham, QC, Selena O’Hanlon of Kingston, ON and Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON were holding 13th place. Heading into the final show jumping phase, re-scheduled to Sept. 17 due to expected heavy rain, the team is knocking at the door for top-10 on a score of 131.70 penalties.

Great Britain has taken over the lead going into show jumping on 80.80 penalties. Ireland is currently second on 89.0, and France is third with 91.80. Ingrid Klimke of Germany has the individual lead aboard SAP Hale Bob OLD (23.30).

The course, designed by Capt. Mark Phillips (GBR), featured 26 numbered fences with a grand total of 42 jumping efforts in an optimum time of 10 minutes. Its hilly terrain and strategically-placed questions were an ultimate test of both the fitness of horses and the decision-making skills of riders. The most complex question came at jump 10, the MARS Sustainability Bay, which featured no less than seven possible option combinations.

Jump designs offered nods to local landmarks, such as Chimney Rock, fashioned after a famous local hiking spot. Other crowd favourites included the Bee Trakehner, the Carolina Turtles, and the Land Rover Turn’s squirrels jumps, which sported clever brush tails. But the jumps proved to be as challenging as they were beautiful, with numerous thrills and spills throughout the day.

In fact, the pressure was on Canada’s anchor rider, O’Hanlon, after Phoenix, 34, had an unfortunate fall at fence 18 from Pavarotti (Pavarotti van de Helle x Foxiland), her 16-year-old Westphalian gelding. While neither horse nor rider incurred injuries, the fall resulted in their elimination, giving Canada a three-member team with no option of a drop score.

O’Hanlon, 37, stepped up to the plate with her long-time partner from the 2014 edition of WEG, Foxwood High, a 15-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding sired by Rio Bronco W and owned by John and Judy Rumble. The pair continues to lead the team, moving up eight spots to take over 29th individually after adding no jumping and just eight time penalties for a current total of 38.70.

 

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High continue to lead the Canadian team and currently sit 29th individually heading into the final show jumping phase.
Photo Credit – © Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

“Being in a team situation, you have to get the team through, so it was up to me to take some of the long routes that I wouldn’t normally take with Woody,” explained O’Hanlon. “He felt amazing. He’s getting so much fitter every time I take him out. Woody is the narrowest, straightest, most honest horse you could possibly imagine cross-country. He is just awesome.”

O’Hanlon continued, “I couldn’t be happier with him. He felt great pulling up (at the end of the course) and he cooled out instantly, so I’m really excited for him.”

Hawley Bennett-Awad, 41, of Aldergrove, BC – competing at WEG 2018 as an individual for Canada – also leapt up the leaderboard, advancing 12 spots to take over 38th aboard Jollybo (Jumbo x Danzig Connection), a 14-year-old British Sport Horse mare she co-owns with the Jollybo Syndicate LLC.

“I am so excited; Jolly was a champion,” said Bennett-Awad, who had a foot-perfect jumping performance and just 10.8 time penalties for a current score of 43.50. “I could have gone a little faster in the beginning, but I just wasn’t sure what I was going to have at the end. I went as fast and safe as I could. She came up that hill full of run, way faster than I thought she was going to be.”

 
 

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo had a clear jumping performance on cross-country and jumped 12 spots up the individual leaderboard.
Photo Credit – © Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Bennett-Awad credits Jollybo’s fitness to her work on a water treadmill near their training base in California.

“The biggest thank you to San Luis Rey Equine and Dr. Potenza in California,” said Bennett-Awad. “Jolly started using their water treadmill a year ago today, and that has been an absolute game changer for her. She has always been fit, but she is so strong now and so incredibly fit. She feels unreal.”

The pathfinder, not just for Canada but for the entire eventing competition as the first competitor on course, was Loach, 35, and Qorry Blue d’Argouges, a 14-year-old Selle Français gelding sired by Mr. Blue and owned by fellow Canadian Olympian, Peter Barry. No strangers to challenging cross-country courses, having represented Canada at both the 2015 Pan American Games and 2016 Rio Olympics, Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges did not disappoint at WEG.

Taking mostly direct routes, and incurring no jumping penalties, Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges added just 10 time penalties to their score for a two-phase total of 44.40 penalties and moved 20 spots up the leaderboard into 40th.

“It is a beautiful course to ride, and I really had fun out there,” said Loach. “The whole course felt really good. My horse jumped great and he had lots of steam left at the end. Qorry is so honest and we’re such a team, it’s just a pleasure to ride him around any track.”

 
 

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges showed their experience, competing in their third consecutive major games, and contributed a clear jumping performance to the team.
Photo Credit – © Cealy Tetleywww.tetleyphoto.com

Rounding out the Canadian Eventing Team, and making the largest jump in the standings was Fergusson, 36, and her 12-year-old Welsh Sport Horse gelding, Honor Me, sired by Brynarian Brenin. The pair added yet another clear jumping performance to Canada’s tally, only adding 8.4 time penalties for a two-phase score of 48.6 and a current standing of 48th – which represents a giant leap of 32 spots up the leaderboard from dressage.

“Honor Me was great, I’m so lucky because he hunts flags like nobody’s business,” said Fergusson, who has brought Honor Me along since he was five years old. “I bought him because I had his full brother, Smart Move, who was one of the most incredible horses, so I had to get the next one.”

Speaking to the accomplishment of training a horse up to the world championship level, Fergusson said, “It’s an amazing feeling, especially because he was a challenge as a young horse, because he has such a big step; fitting him in a dressage arena is not fun. But it really works for you out on cross-country. He’s so fun.”

 
 

Lisa Marie Fergusson made the biggest jump up the leaderboard of any Canadian, improving her individual placing by 32 spots follow cross-country aboard Honor Me.
Photo Credit – © Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

The Canadian Eventing Team will move forward into the final show jumping phase on Sept. 17, where team and individual medals will be awarded. For the full schedule, live results and more info visit https://tryon2018.com.

For full EC coverage of WEG 2018, including results news releases for all CET disciplines, breaking news, and games insider features, visit www.equestrian.ca/events-results/games/ridetotryon. Also be sure to check out EC’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for unique content, including a daily WEG photo album.

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Photographs to be used one time only with this news release and must include photo credit. For high resolution photographs, please e-mail jchristie@equestrian.ca.