Canadian eventing athletes sprung into the 2018 season by taking four of the top 10 spots in the CIC 3* division at the Red Hills International Horse Trials, held March 8-11, 2018 in Tallahassee, FL.
Canadian Olympian Selena O’Hanlon of Kingston, ON and long-time partner, Foxwood High (“Woody”), a 15-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding sired by Rio Bronco W and owned by John and Judy Rumble, kicked things off in the dressage phase on March 9 with a dressage score of 31.20 penalties for an initial placing of fifth.
The following morning they entered the show jumping ring, leaving up all the rails and adding just two time penalties to move up into fourth place. They held on to fourth after taking on the cross-country course, designed by Mike Etherington-Smith (FEI 3*) of Great Britain and David O’Connor (FEI 3*) of the United States. Renowned for their strength in the cross-country phase, O’Hanlon and Woody didn’t disappoint, jumping clear and adding just six time penalties to finish on an overall score of 39.20.
In addition to being thrilled with her results, O’Hanlon also had the treat of seeing herself and Woody become the face of the 2018 Red Hills International Horse Trials.
“It was exciting to see Woody on the billboards everywhere,” laughed O’Hanlon, explaining that the organizing committee had used a photo of Woody to advertise the Red Hills International Horse Trials on billboards around Tallahassee. “The atmosphere, the volunteers and the cross-country course makes Red Hills one of my all-time favourite events.”
Next on the leaderboard for Canada was another veteran pair, Canadian Olympian, Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON and Pavarotti (Pavarotti van de Helle x Foxiland). Together, Phoenix and Pavarotti have individual gold and silver medals under their belt from the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games. Their long and successful partnership was on display in the dressage phase, where they were the only Canadian pair in the division to earn a sub-30 score (29.80), putting them into third place. A double-clear show jumping performance moved them up into second place heading into cross-country. Their final placing of fifth came after adding no jumping but 11.30 time penalties on the cross-country course, bringing their final score to 41.00.
“I am happy with all of my horses’ performances this past weekend, especially Pavarotti who had one of the best weekends to date,” said Phoenix. “We have such a great group of riders. Everyone is very relaxed and I think the results are speaking for themselves.”
The Canadian presence in the top 10 didn’t stop there. Capturing sixth and seventh place, respectively, were Holly Jacks-Smither of Orangeville, ON and Waylon Roberts, a Canadian currently residing in West Grove, PA.
Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding sired by Inspired Prospect that she co-owns with her husband Bruce Smither, were in 22nd place after dressage, but shot up the standings into 12th place after laying down a double-clear round in show jumping. They also had a clear jumping performance in cross-country, and had the fastest time of all the Canadians, adding just 5.60 time penalties for a final score of 43.70.
Roberts was close behind, finishing on a total score of 47.40 penalties aboard Lancaster, an 11-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding owned by Michelle and John Koppin. Their performance was highlighted by a strong dressage phase (31.40) and a clear jumping effort cross-country.
Leading the Canadian results in the CIC 1* division was Lindsay Traisnel of Lakeshore, ON, who took third place aboard Bacyrouge (Mylord Carthago x Clyde De La Combe), a seven-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by Patricia Pearce. Red Hills marked just the second FEI level event for the pair, and impressively, they finished on their dressage score of 31.70 penalties after foot-perfect show jumping and cross-country rounds.
Katlyn Hewson-Slezak of Minden, ON guided Fernhill Choco Royale (Chacoa x Cavalier Royale), her seven-year-old Irish sport horse gelding, through his first-ever FEI event. They also accomplished the feat of finishing on their dressage score of 32.30 for fifth place in the CIC 1* division.
“We are building a competitive team,” explained Phoenix. “We have been riding together for a long time. It is a fun group, continually lifting each other up while gearing towards the World Equestrian Games. It’s a great feeling.”
O’Hanlon added, “Up until this past weekend, I had been the only one to make it around the 3* cross-country course on two horses, so it is exciting to see that Canadians are producing the results we are aiming for. What we are seeing is that Canada can achieve these results on multiple horses at multiple events in any division.”
For more information and full results from the 2018 Red Hills International Horse Trials, visit rhht.org.