Mill Spring, NC – The Canadian Eventing Team wrapped up the dressage phase at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) in Mill Spring, NC on Sept. 14, 2018, and is currently holding 13th place heading into the cross-country phase on Sept. 15.
The team, comprised of Lisa Marie Fergusson of Langley, BC, Colleen Loach of Dunham, QC, Selena O’Hanlon of Kingston, ON and Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON rode to a team score of 98.10 penalty points. Germany is currently in the lead with 73.40, with Great Britain in second on 80.80, followed by the United States in third (83.00). Individually, Julia Krajewski of Germany is in the lead with 19.90 penalties aboard Chipmunk FRH.
On the opening day of the eventing dressage phase on Sept. 13, Fergusson and Loach put forward team scores of 40.20 and 34.40 penalties, respectively, while Hawley Bennett-Awad of Aldergrove, BC had a strong performance competing for Canada as an individual to start with 32.70 penalties.
Riding in the anchor position, O’Hanlon proved to be Canada’s highest-placed dressage finisher, currently sitting in 37th with her long-time partner, Foxwood High, a 15-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding sired by Rio Bronco W and owned by John and Judy Rumble.
A strong test, highlighted by scores of 7.7 for multiple individual movements including flying changes, extended trot and collected trot, gave O’Hanlon and Foxwood High (affectionately called Woody) a score of 30.70 penalties.
“The trot work was good, and the half-pass I was really happy with – he went really forward with big steps, and felt very even both ways in terms of crossing,” said O’Hanlon, who also has a strong WEG history, helping the Canadian Eventing Team to a silver medal in 2010 in Kentucky. “The canter work was also good, and the last flying change, which is usually our weakest, was our best change.”
O’Hanlon has come into WEG 2018 following stellar seasons with Foxwood High in 2017 and 2018, including a historic moment as the first Canadian to win the CCI 3* Fair Hill International in 2017, and a CIC 3* win at the renowned Bromont Olympic Park just prior to WEG in August 2018.
“Woody has a heart of gold and he is a really elegant horse,” said O’Hanlon, who is now looking ahead to cross-country. “We’ve based our entire season on good cross-country courses. Some of the other teams did the same thing and brought really good cross-country horses, knowing that the hill (toward the end of the course) was going to be there, and be a factor. I’m super excited that we get to do the hill because it gives us our chance to climb up the leaderboard.”
Another veteran pair, Phoenix, 34, and her Westphalian gelding, Pavarotti (Pavarotti van de Helle x Foxiland), will head into cross-country on a score of 33.0 penalties.
“Pavarotti really had his game face on today in dressage,” explained Phoenix, who has competed with the 16-year-old gelding in three previous major games, racking up two team and two individual medals along the way, including individual gold at the 2011 Pan Am Games. “The changes did not quite come off the way we had worked through them, but other than that, he couldn’t have been any better. I think it was his most solid dressage test ever.”
Phoenix continued, “This week he has felt really ready. When we got to the venue, I thought, ‘We’ve really got a crack at this thing’ He’s in great health and he’s mentally so ready to go for it.”
Speaking to the team dynamic and the excitement building for the cross-country phase, Phoenix said, “Everything is awesome. Our team is fantastic – we have a group of five incredible women – and the horses are looking great. We’re really psyched for tomorrow. All of Team Canada is ready to get out there and get at it.”
The Canadian Eventing Team will move forward into the cross-country phase on Sept. 15, followed by show jumping on Sept. 16, where team and individual medals will be awarded.
See full results here.