Mackenzie Wray of Loretto, ON added the 2017 Running Fox CET Medal National Final title to her list of accolades on Nov, 9, 2017 at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.
To claim the title, Wray faced off against 16 of the top equitation riders in the country, who qualified for the National Final within four regions – British Columbia, Prairie (AB, SK, MB), Ontario and Atlantic (QC, NB, NS, NF, PEI).
Wray’s ride to the top started on Nov. 8 when she won the Flat & Gymnastic phase aboard Contact, an eight-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Makim Holdings Inc. Tackling the challenging test, which included extended and collected gaits, counter canter, changes of lead and a turn on the haunches, as well as trot and canter poles, bounce combinations and a line connecting two one-stride combinations that was required to be ridden in both directions – once in six strides and again in seven strides – Wray put in a polished performance to earn the top mark of 85.00.
“I think the Flat & Gymnastic phase was the hardest because there was so much to remember, and I think that really plays with the riders’ mind,” said Wray, who is an equitation veteran, having won the 2016 JC Medal National Final at the Royal Horse Show, also aboard Contact. “When I get nervous I tend to rush through everything, but I really kept it together.”
As the leader heading into the Jumping phase on Nov. 9, Wray had to tackle a course of 10 jumps and 13 efforts, including a challenging three-part bending line with a one-stride combination, in the hopes of moving forward into the final test asked of the top four riders.
After guiding Contact around a smooth trip to score 83.00 from the judges, and second place in the Jumping phase, Wray secured her spot in the top four test – where she had the advantage of going last. In her final performance of the 2017 Royal Horse Show, Wray made sure to end on a high note, laying down a smooth and efficient trip around the final test, which included jumping from a counter-canter and trotting into a bending line.
“I definitely came back to win this year,” said Wray who also competed in the 2016 CET Medal National Final, but finished outside of the top 10. “I was really confident in Contact, he has been amazing this year.”
Remarkably, Wray’s win came despite the fact that she was at a disadvantage heading into the CET National Final. As a Business Administration student at Hartpury College in England, Wray flew back to Canada especially for the Royal Horse Show, with minimal time to get back in the saddle and prepare.
“The weeks leading up to the CET Final were hard, because I didn’t get to ride much; I was back from England for a day and then we came right to the Royal,” explained Wray, who is coached by Canadian high performance jumping athlete, Erynn Ballard of Tottingham, ON, and credits Erynn as a big part of her success. “I’ve been riding with Erynn for five years now, and I couldn’t imagine training with anyone else. She makes you ride the best you can.”
The 2017 Reserve Champion in the Running Fox CET Medal National Final was Halle Gainey from Kelowna, BC aboard her Dutch Warmblood mare, Steel Magnolias. After a fifth place finish in the Flat & Gymnastics phase, Gainey made an impressive move up the standings and secured her spot in the top four test after scoring 78.00 for third place in the Jumping phase.
Third place overall went to Mackenzey Nadeau of Carleton Place, ON and Ferraro K, owned by Brookstreet Stables Corp. Rounding out the top four was Jade Fowler from Priddis, AB and Ute Brinkmann’s Charmony.
As the Running Fox CET Medal National Final winner, Wray was presented with a brand new Luc Childeric saddle from Debra Smith, co-owner of Running Fox. The title sponsor of the CET Medal series and National Final for over 20 years, Running Fox also provided all 16 competitors with a Walsh leather halter, plus coolers to the top eight finishers.
Assisting Smith with the presentations throughout week was two-time Canadian Olympian, Tiffany Foster from North Vancouver, BC. A CET alumna, Foster won the National Final in 2001, an accomplishment that proved to be a stepping stone to her highly successful international career as a Canadian Show Jumping Team member.
For full results from the 2017 Running Fox CET Medal National Final, visit www.royalfair.org.