Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes Show Off Major Games Experience for Top Five Finish
Ottawa, ON, March 10, 2020 – Karl Slezak of Tottenham, ON, and Fernhill Wishes (Chacoa x Gildawn Diamond) cracked the top five in the first CCI 4*-S competition of the 2020 season at The Red Hills International Horse Trials, held March 5-8 in Tallahassee, FL.
It was the combination’s first international appearance since helping the Canadian Eventing Team win bronze at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. Slezak and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, whom he co-owns with Kirk Hoppner, showed off the lessons learned in their major games debut with an incredible run that carried them from an initial placing of 17th all the way to fourth.
Slezak and Fernhill Wishes started off scoring 37.10 penalty points in the dressage phase on March 6. Their climb began in the following day’s cross-country phase, where a clear round with 13.60 time penalties moved them up six notches to 11th. To seal the deal, Slezak and Fernhill Wishes executed a beautiful double-clear show jumping round on March 8, ending on a final score of 50.70 penalty points.
Slezak was joined by a familiar face on the CCI 4*-S leaderboard: that of his Pan Am Games teammate and Canadian Olympian, Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON. She put in world class performances with two different mounts, starting with her veteran partner, Pavarotti (Pavarotti van de Helle x Foxiland XX). Phoenix and her 18-year-old Westphalian gelding added 14.40 cross-country time penalties and just one show jumping rail to their dressage score of 33.30 penalties to end on a final score of 51.70 penalty points for sixth.
Finishing exactly one penalty point behind was Phoenix’s second ride, a nine-year-old Trakehner gelding named Watson GS that she co-owns with Kelli Cull. Phoenix and Watson GS, who came from her partnership with Canadian breeders Schickedanz Galten Farms, scored 34.70 penalties in dressage, incurred 18.00 cross-country time penalty points and jumped double-clear to clinch eighth with a final score of 52.70 penalty points.
Rounding out the top 10 Canadian performances was Brandon McMechan of Toronto, ON, and Oscar’s Wild, the nine-year-old Thoroughbred gelding that he co-owns with his father, Glenn McMechan. They scored a respectable 37.20 penalty points in the dressage phase, but the duo’s real area of expertise was on display in the next day’s cross-country. There, McMechan and Oscar’s Wild limited their time penalties to 2.40 to shoot an impressive 17 spots into first. In the show jumping phase, three rails and a time penalty of 2.80 ultimately dropped their final score to 54.50 penalties, placing McMechan and Oscar’s Wild in 10th.
In the CCI 3*-S division, it was Kyle Carter, a Canadian residing in Sparr, FL, who held the Canadian standard riding Gaillard Lancer (Diarado x Flemmingh), who is co-owned by Brandon and Savannah Blackstock. Carter partnered with Gaillard Lancer just over a year ago after the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding proved to be a bit stronger and more opinionated than anticipated for the student of Carter’s for whom he was originally intended.
But Carter managed that power beautifully, scoring 28.60 penalty points for second after dressage and tearing through the cross-country course clear with just 4.0 time penalties to push into first after the first two phases. An unlucky rail in show jumping brought Carter’s final score to 36.60 penalty points, securing third for the pair.
Kyle Carter and Gaillards Lancer placed third in the CCI 3*-S division.
Photo Credit: Shannon Brinkman
“He’s been getting better and better every time,” said Carter of Gaillard Lancer. “It always seems like he’s the bridesmaid and never the bride, but he’s so consistent and seems to always show up and compete, which is an incredible value to have in a horse. I know him really well, he knows me and goes really well for me – he’s only started scratching the surface, to be honest. This is a horse that could medal. I want to thank Brandon and Savannah, it’s quite a privilege to ride him and I appreciate their support.”
For more information and full results from The Red Hills International Horse Trials, click here.
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