With 10 days remaining before Equestrian Canada announces the final Olympic team selections, Horse Sport put out some feelers and has assembled lists of the most likely candidates to fly the maple leaf in Brazil.
The final run-up to the dressage selection was very dramatic, with BC native Karen Pavicic and Don Daiquiri travelling to Fritzens, Austria, in a last-minute effort to boost her 71.039% average and overtake Megan Lane and Caravella (71.0875%) for that coveted second spot in Rio. The trip was funded thanks to a GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $13,000 to date. Unfortunately, her scores of 69.240% (Grand Prix for Special) and 67.804% (Grand Prix Special) were not enough to accomplish that goal, so it appears that Lane will be accompanying Belinda Trussell and Anton (74.263%) to the Games.
As is usual in this sport in this country, there has been a lot of controversy and jostling for position in the past few months, made even more difficult to assess because of the secrecy of the selection criteria, and even confusion among the eventers themselves as to which events were mandatory. The unofficial team is made up of:
Rebecca Howard & Riddle Master
Selena O’Hanlon & Foxwood High
Colleen Loach & Qorry Blue d’Argouges
Kathryn Robinson & Let It Bee
Noticeably absent from this list is Jessica Phoenix, who qualified four mounts (A Little Romance, Bentley’s Best, Pavarotti and Abbey GS). She was named as a reserve along with Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac and has reportedly launched an appeal which will be decided on Wednesday.
There is some good reading in the following comprehensive chart compiled by Sable Geisler which appeared on eventingconnect.today:
FEI RESULTS DURING THE QUALIFYING PERIOD AT THE 3* AND 4* LEVEL
(Jan. 2015 – Jun. 20, 2016)
The chart makes it clear that only three horse-rider combos have completed at least one CCI4* event during the qualifying period: Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee (2016 Badminton); Lisa Marie Ferguson and Honor Me (2016 Rolex); and Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master (2015 Luhmuhlen & 2015 Pau). Previously successful 4* navigators include Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High (2014 Rolex & WEG); Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm (2014 Rolex); and Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti (2014 WEG).
Interesting to note that Colleen, Selena, Jessica and Waylon are all entered at the Great Meadows CCI3* – a US team prep event – but whether they actually run their horses this close to the Olympics is anyone’s guess.
It has been rumoured that three of the four Canadian jumping team members will be Eric Lamaze, Tiffany Foster, and Yann Candele, but the fourth spot is definitely wide open.
While Eric is pretty much a shoe-in to go to Rio, and has publicly announced that Fine Lady 5 will be his Olympic partner, his second qualified horse, Check Picobello Z, has placed above Fine Lady 5 on one occasion recently at Spruce Meadows and also won a 1.50m class.
Tiffany Foster has had a couple of top-10 finishes at Spruce Meadows with Tripple X III, but has also seen her solid campaigner Victor step up to the plate recently as well, so it will be interesting to see if that sways the selectors’ ultimate choice.
Yann will likely be taking the lightly-campaigned First Choice 15, but a glance at the chart below shows that Showgirl actually beat First Choice in the ATB Financial Cup at the National and the latter did not compete at the Pan American tournament which just wrapped up. His competition schedule is a bit light, but he could possibly just be preserving his horse, which could be a wise move.
There are quite a few riders who would be happy to step into the fourth slot. The most likely candidates to round out the team include Amy Millar and Heros, Kara Chad (a student of Eric’s) with Bellinda, or Liz Gingras with Zilversprings (also a student of Eric’s). Ben Asselin and Veyron would have to be given an outsider’s chance based on results at Spruce Meadows, with at least one rail and time penalties in every outing, and one elimination, so far. Also, with Amy and Kara joining Eric, Tiffany and Yann at the CHIO Aachen in Germany, July 8-17, who will be that fourth team member is becoming more obvious.
Using Spruce Meadows as a yardstick for current performance results, we have assembled the following chart showing faults in the first round in classes 1.50m or bigger where the most likely team members have competed: