Even more pressing is the question: why is everyone’s blog starting to look like a CoTH forum? Last week it was RD’s blog, now it’s a guest post that Steph Rhodes-Bosch (the daughter I never had) wrote on EventingNation. In the post she refers to David O’Connor as Captain Canada, and boy does she catch some flack from people who have completely missed the bigger point: that at the tender age of 21 Steph has realized the dream we all dream of at some point in our riding careers – to make our nation’s team for a major international championship. If she or any of the eventers want to call DOC Captain Canada, I say have at ‘er. Ian Millar hardly has a patent on the name. DOC is right on time to produce the results for Canadian eventing that he said he would need four years to achieve. When he came on board he didn’t make any pie-in-the-sky promises about Canada being on the podium six months down the road, or even two years down the road. And he is still realistic today, resisting temptation in the face of the incredible results at Rolex. Earlier this year when I interviewed him he said the goal at WEG 2010 would be to achieve a top five result; right now that looks like an entirely reasonable expectation. The team members don’t have to all have their best day ever in order to do it, either. They just need to perform to the level they have consistently been performing this year. And of course they need not to be handed a super-sized serving of bad luck. Whatever the outcome in two weeks, DOC is to be thanked. And you know what he has going for him that the ‘other’ Captain Canada doesn’t? He’s media friendly.
In case you haven’t heard, the Canadian WEG eventing team is as follows:
Hawley Bennett-Awad (go BC!) on Gin & Juice
Kyle Carter (AB) on Madison Park
Rebecca Howard (go BC!!) on Riddle Master
Selena O’Hanlon (ON) on Colombo
Jessica Phoenix (ON) on Exponential
Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch (go BC!!!!) on Port Authority
How’s that for girl power? No offence Kyle. What guy wouldn’t enjoy being on a team with five fit young women?
The reason I didn’t post yesterday was because I wanted to be able to share the other big team announcement with you – and the Canadian show jumping team was announced last night:
Yann Candele on Pitareusa
Eric (Captain L’Amazing) Lamaze on Hickstead
Jonathon Millar on Contino 14
John Pearce on Chianto
Jill Henselwood on Bottom Line – reserve
Speaking of Captain L’Amazing (who is another strong candidate for the title of Captain Canada), what a heartbreak the CN Grand Prix was for him on the weekend at the Masters. You could call it a million dollar heartbreak, or at least a three quarters of a million dollar heartbreak. If he and Hickstead had won the class, their first place prize of $325,000 would have been augmented by a CN bonus of $460,000 because of Eric’s other wins at Spruce this year. That broken foot finally got in the way of his success in the second round when he lost his stirrup over the enormous triple bar at number three. The reason he lost the stirrup was because he was landing almost entirely on the other stirrup to spare the injured foot. And the reason he couldn’t get the stirrup back in time for the next line was probably because he has limited range of motion – not to mention a hell of a lot of pain with what motion he can achieve. No one in their right mind would have attempted the next line with only one pedal – except maybe Gerco Schroeder, whose legs are so tightly locked on the horse it looks like he wouldn’t move if you lifted the horse up, tipped it upside down and shook it. There is one thread of silver lining in Eric’s very bad day: I predict he has tripled his fan base. He composed himself so well in front of the TV camera, while still betraying emotion. Nothing like a little humanity and disappointment to make the world sympathize.
Some of you know how easily I fall in platonic love with people. Watching the Masters made me fall for two new men – for the same reason. Even when he had a disappointing two rails, Jonathon Millar showed great appreciation for his horse, patting him repeatedly and affectionately on the way out of the ring, despite the mistakes. The other man I love because he loves his horse is Richard Spooner. He gives Cristallo a treat after every round before leaving the ring. And the camera was just close enough to the notorious bicycle jump to catch the sound of Richard saying ‘good boy’ after the horse cleared it. I know – I shouldn’t come to such a snap conclusion about someone with only that bit of evidence caught on camera. But there is far too much of the opposite going around these days.
Today’s WEG preview wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Canadian dressage team, who are settling into their training camp with RD in Kentucky. Apparently the fund raiser was a big success on Sunday, and the rider auction raised some significant dollars. Personally, I had a bit of a problem with the auctioning off of team riders to do whatever the successful bidder wanted them to for a day. Among the possible demands listed was washing your car. I find that just a bit dehumanizing, particularly since I thought the point is to lift the image of these athletes in our eyes, not to embarrass them. If the auction had been more along the lines of offering their coaching services for a one day clinic, that would have seemed more appropo. The idea of the auction also took me back to my elementary school days when I was always the last player picked for the gym class softball teams. Imagine if no one bid on you? How mortifying would that be?
Wendy Christoff (first reserve rider from BC – go BC!!!) competed at the BC Championships as one final show tune up before WEG, and she had a bizarro drug testing experience that made me laugh so hard I cried when she told me about it. She has since shared the story on her blog. Recommended reading.