The Canadian Eventing Team made their Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 debut in dressage on August 28 at the renowned Le Pin National Stud venue in the Ornes region of France.
The start list for dressage featured a total of 91 horses from 27 different nations, which set a new record for Eventing attendance in FEI World Equestrian Games history. Two Canadians took to the ring on day one, and their combined scores have put Team Canada into eighth position heading into day two of dressage.
Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON was the top rider of the day for Canada aboard Pavarotti (Pavarotti VD Helle x Foxiland), a 12-year-old Wesphalian gelding owned by Don J. Good. She completed the FEI 4*-level test, featuring movements like half passes, serpentines, collected and extended gaits, and flying lead changes, for a score of 50.2 penalties – which will be carried forward to the remaining two phases of cross country and show jumping. This score put her into eighth place initially. At the completion of the first 46 riders on day one of dressage, she was holding down 14th place.
“I am so happy with Pavarotti. With this calibre of horses, and with him being so new to this level, I could not have been happier, and I am so excited for his future,” said Phoenix, who is the reigning Pan American Games Individual Gold Medalist in Eventing, having won in 2011 in Guadalajara, MEX.
Peter Barry of Dunham, QC was the first to ride for Canada earlier in the day aboard Kilrodan Abbott (Clover Brigade x Leabeg), a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding he owns with Susan and Dylan Barry. Although the Ornes region has seen significant rain all week, it lessoned to a drizzle for Barry’s ride, which earned a percentage score of 60.7 penalties to take over sixth place provisionally. Barry finished the day in 36th place.
“I would have loved to go under a score of 60. It escaped me by .08 of a point,” said Barry, who also competed in the 2012 London Olympics with Kilrodan Abbott, and is attending his inaugural FEI World Equestrian Games. “I think I probably rode him too conservatively, I needed to go more forward. But, I am pleased overall.”
The remaining two Canadian Eventing Team members will enter the dressage ring on August 29. Hawley Bennett-Awad of Langley, BC will compete in the morning, with Selena O’Hanlon from Kingston, ON to follow in the afternoon.
With the dressage test in the books for Canada’s initial two riders, they are now looking ahead to cross country, which will take place August 30 and features a course designed by FEI 4*-level Course Designer, Pierre Michelet of France. Cross country will also be held at the Le Pin National Stud venue.
The Games will mark the first time that Phoenix’s mount, Pavarotti, will compete at the 4* level in cross country. However, Phoenix explained that she has extreme confidence in his abilities.
“If I was going to take any horse to the Games for his first 4* course, he would definitely be my pick,” said Phoenix. “The cross country course looks amazing and it looks really well suited to Pavarotti. He’s a really forward-going, galloping horse, and he’s really bold. I think a lot of the questions out there will be asking that of the horses.”
Barry is also enthusiastic about the cross country phase, stating, “I’m looking forward to it – it’s going to be fun. It’s a big, long, and imposing course with a lot of technical questions. I think it will favour very fit horses.”
Following cross country, the Eventing horses will undergo a Horse Inspection on August 31, before getting loaded up and transported under police escort to the D’Ornano Stadium in Caen for the final show jumping phase and medal ceremonies.
The leading country after day one of dressage is Great Britain, with the legendary William Fox-Pitt holding the lead individually aboard Chilli Morning. Germany is in second, while New Zealand rounds out the top three.
To see full results from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014, as well as start lists, a feature on the cross country course, and more, go to www.normandy2014.com.
Complete information on the Canadian Equestrian Team can be accessed at www.equinecanada.ca/cet.
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 are being broadcasted for live viewing from home by FEI TV.
The FEI World Equestrian Games are held every four years, in the middle of the Olympic cycle. The inaugural Games were hosted in Stockholm (SWE) in 1990. Since then, the Games have been staged in The Hague (NED) in 1994, Rome (ITA) in 1998, Jerez (ESP) in 2002, Aachen (GER) in 2006, and Kentucky (USA) in 2010.