Colleen Loach and Waylon Roberts put in impressive performances to earn top 10 results aboard multiple mounts at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event, held May 6-10 in Allentown, N.J.
Both riders contested the CCI 2* division, which acted as a Canadian Eventing Team qualification trial for the TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games.
Loach, a veteran from Dunham, Que. who works for Canadian Olympian, Peter Barry, achieved her Pan Am qualification for team consideration in the CCI 2* division aboard Qorry Blue D’Argouges, Barry’s 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding, sired by Mr. Blue.
A dressage score of 47.80 penalty points had the pair tied for 11th place. From there, they moved on to FEI 4* course designer, John Williams’ (USA) 4,900 metre cross-country course, which featured 24 obstacles and 35 jumping efforts. A smooth ride under the optimum time of eight minutes and 55 seconds added no penalties to their score, moving them up to tie for eighth place. Another clear performance in show jumping had Loach and Qorry Blue D’Argouges close out the weekend in sixth place.
“Qorry and I achieved our personal best dressage test at the two star level,” said Loach, who is on the 2015 Canadian National Eventing Team Long List. “He answered all of the questions on the cross-country course with enthusiasm and confidence, and show jumped like a champ.”
Also meeting the TORONTO 2015 qualification criteria in the CCI 2*-after finishing on his dressage score of 48.10 penalty points-was Waylon Roberts, a Port Perry, Ont. native who currently lives in West Grove, Pa.-where he works under Phillip Dutton, an Australian-born Olympian who now rides for the United States.
Partnered with Bill Owen, his 10-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding sired by Money Talks that he co-owns with his mother, Kelly Plitz, Roberts was standing in 14th place after dressage, and was the last rider to head out on the CCI 2* cross-country course, where he faced a downpour of rain. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, Roberts and Bill Owen pulled off an impressive clear performance in a time of eight minutes and 46 seconds to move up to 10th place on the leaderboard. They were equally successful in the final show jumping phase, leaving up all the rails and staying under the time to rise to their final placing of seventh.
“He showed me a lot of heart all weekend,” Roberts commented about Bill Owen, who was fresh off a win in the CIC 2* division at the Fair Hill International Horse Trials in mid-April. “I wasn’t sure how he was going to do over such a long course, but he had lots of gas left as we crossed the finish. And he felt as though he could have run another CCI after show jumping.”
Roberts was also pleased that Plitz was in attendance to see the performance, stating, “It was great that my mom could see us do so well for Mother’s Day.”
Two additional Canadians met the Pan Am Games qualification standards in the CCI 2* division. Barry, who resides in Dunham, Que., placed 15th on a final score of 59.10 penalties with Long Island T (Ludwig von Bayern x Heraldik xx), his nine-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred cross gelding. Tik Maynard achieved his qualification after placing 17th (62.70 penalties) aboard Dutch Times (Goodtimes x Michellino), a seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Christina Aharoni.
Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, Ont. also competed in the CCI 2* division, and unfortunately was injured after a fall from her mount, Exultation, during cross-country. Equine Canada’s statement on Phoenix’s fall can be found HERE.
In the CIC 3* division, Loach and Roberts once again placed back-to-back after earning overall scores that were less than a point apart.
Loach was the top-placed Canadian, this time aboard Freespirit, a nine-year-old Canadian bred mare (Freedom Z x Primitive Rising) also owned by Barry. Together, they finished dressage in 14th place on a score of 59.40 penalties. A clear round in show jumping the following morning moved them up four spots and set the stage for cross-country later that afternoon, where they had no jumping and just 6.40 time penalties over a course that saw very few riders finish under the optimum time. This brought their final score to 65.80 penalties for fourth place overall.
“Freespirit (a.k.a June) was amazing in the jumping phases and I couldn’t have asked her to do anything better,” said Loach, who has known the mare since she was born and personally backed her and brought her up through the levels. “I was very pleased with both of my horses this past weekend. I am very lucky that Peter and Susan Barry support me on these two wonderful horses.”
Roberts took fifth place with Kelecyn Cognac, Anthony Connolly’s 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. A score of 53.40 penalties in dressage started the pair off in a tie for 10th place. Two rails for eight jumping faults brought their post-show jumping score to 61.40 and slipped them down one spot to 11th. However, a clear jumping performance in cross-country, along with one of the day’s lowest number of time penalties at 5.20, brought them all the way up to fifth place on a total score of 66.60 penalties.
“I felt this was a huge step forward for Cognac and I,” said Roberts, who began riding the gelding last year after being given the ride by owner, Connolly, who is the father of one of Roberts’ students. “Everything really clicked between us on cross-country, and it makes me really excited for the upcoming CCI at Bromont.”
The Jaguar Land Rover Bromont CCI Event will take place in Bromont, Que., from June 3-7, and will act as the final North American event for qualification for TORONTO 2015. More information on Bromont can be found at www.bromontcci.com.
For full results and further information on the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event, visit www.jfi3d.com.