Guadalajara, Mexico – Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, ON, has maintained the lead following the second of three phases comprising the equestrian sport of Eventing held Saturday, October 22, at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Proving its popularity, over 33,000 spectators attended the cross-country phase of evening competition, held at the Santa Sofia Golf Club.
Following Friday’s opening phase of dressage, which saw Phoenix top the leader board with a score of 43.90 penalty points, the 28-year-old athlete added nothing to her score after Saturday’s cross-country phase to maintain her lead. Phoenix’s partner is Pavarotti, a nine-year-old Westphalian gelding. The optimum time to complete the cross-country course, which was 5,225 meters in length and featured 24 numbered obstacles and 35 jumping efforts, was nine minutes and 30 seconds. Phoenix and Pavarotti crossed the finish line two seconds under the optimum time.
“Pavarotti is such a great cross-country horse,” said Phoenix following her faultless performance. “He’s straight and bold and has an incredible gallop. I’m so proud of him because he jumped extremely well the whole way today.” Pavarotti’s owner, Don J. Good of New Hamburg, ON, who was on hand to watch Phoenix compete, said, “I’m very proud of Jessica. She is focused, personable and very much a team player. Watching her compete here means a lot to me.”
Phoenix’s teammates, James Atkinson of Mountain Road, MB, Hawley Bennett-Awad of Langley, BC, Rebecca Howard of Salmon Arm, BC, and Selena O’Hanlon of Elgin, ON are currently in second place behind the United States following the cross-country phase. All five members of the Canadian team completed the cross-country phase.
Atkinson, 34, was the first Canadian on course with Gustav, a 12-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding owned by Carolyn Hoffos. As the pathfinders, Atkinson and Gustav jumped clear, incurring eight time penalties to bring their two-day total to 61.70 penalties. “Gustav is not a very fast horse, but he jumped great today,” said Atkinson, who has moved up the leader board from 15th following dressage to tenth place individually.
Phoenix gave Canada its second clear jumping round before Howard, 32, followed with one of her own. Roquefort, a 13-year-old Dutch/Thoroughbred gelding that Howard co-owns with The Fork Stables, made up for his slight disobediences in Friday’s dressage phase by galloping around the cross-country course with not a moment’s hesitation. Howard added just 3.6 time penalties to her dressage score of 51.30 to finish the day in seventh place with 54.90 penalties.
Bennett-Awad, 34, had an almost flawless round on Five O’Clock Somewhere, a 10-year-old American Thoroughbred gelding owned by Sue Church and Kimberly Barron. A small mistake at fence seven resulted in 20 penalties as well as 6.4 time penalties, which left Bennett-Awad with a two-day total of 79.60 penalties and in 22nd position individually.
“I’m both happy and sad at the same time,” said Bennett-Award, a Canadian Olympian and one of the Pan Am team’s most experienced members. “It was unfortunate because he rocked around the course and came flying home.”
O’Hanlon, 30, was the fifth and final Canadian on course with John Rumble’s eight-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding, Foxwood High. The youngest horse on the team, Foxwood High handled the course well but had a moment of uncertainty at the third element of the main water complex at fence 17 that resulted in 20 penalties. “I had a great day, and I’m sorry to have a ‘green’ run out,” she said.
O’Hanlon’s quick recovery helped her make the optimum time and incur no time penalties, but her total score of 72.20 dropped her down to 18th individually. “My horse proved himself today,” she said. “In another year with more experience, he will be great at an obstacle like that water. I’m really pleased to be here.”
The cross-country course, which was designed by John Williams of the United States, took a significant toll on the starting field. Of the 49 horse and rider combinations that left the starting box, just 31 completed, including all five Americans who lead the team competition with a two-day total of 138.60 penalty points. With a score of 189.80, Brazil is still in third place behind Canada with 160.50, although the gap between them has widened slightly.
Team standings are based on the top three individual results from each country. The scores of Phoenix, Howard and Atkinson bring Canada’s team total to 160.50 going into the final phase of show jumping beginning at 12 noon at Guadalajara’s Club Hípica. Following the first show jumping round which will determine the team medals, the top 25 individuals will then return to the arena to contest the individual medal final.
The Canadian Eventing Team trains under the leadership of David O’Connor, International Technical Advisor. Team Chef d’équipe Graeme Thom, stable manager Debbie Furnas, team veterinarian Dr. Christiana Ober, team farrier Randy Pawlak, and team manager Fleur Tipton will provide support to the Canadian Eventing Team throughout the Pan Am Games.
The Canadian Equestrian Team is assisted at the Pan American Games by Team Leader Kerri McGregor of Newmarket, ON, and Assistant Team Leader Tina Collins of Loretto, ON.
The Canadian Eventing Committee is grateful to Own the Podium, Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee and all of its sponsors, supporters, suppliers and friends for their continued support of the Canadian Eventing Team in its quest for excellence.
Pan American Games Eventing - Team Results following Cross-Country
- USA (138.60): Michael Pollard/Schoensgreen Hanni (44.50); Hannah Burnett/Harbour Pilot (45.20); Bruce Davidson Jr./Absolute Liberty (48.90); Shannon Lilley/Ballingowan Pizazz (49.30); Lynn Symansky/Donner (52.20)
- Canada (160.50): Jessica Phoenix/Pavarotti (43.90); Rebecca Howard/Roquefort (54.90); James Atkinson/Gustav (61.70); Selena O’Hanlon/Foxwood High (72.20); Hawley Bennett-Awad/Five O’Clock Somewhere (79.60)
- Brazil (189.80): Serguei Fofanoff/Barbara TW (61.80); Marcio Jorge/Josephine MCJ (62.80); Jesper Martendal/Land Jimmy (65.20); Marcelo Tosi/Eleda All Black (94.30); Ruy Fonseca/Tom Bombadill Too (Eliminated)
Pan American Games Eventing - Individual Results following Cross-Country
1. Jessica Phoenix Uxbridge, ON Pavarotti 43.90
2. Michael Pollard United States Schoensgreen Hanni 44.50
3. Hannah Burnett United States Harbour Pilot 45.20
4. Bruce Davidson Jr. United States Absolute Liberty 48.90
5. Shannon Lilley United States Ballingowan Pizazz 49.30
7. Rebecca Howard Salmon Arm, BC Roquefort 51.30
10. James Atkinson Mountain Road, MB Gustav 61.70
18. Selena O’Hanlon Elgin, ON Foxwood High 72.20
22. Hawley Bennett-Awad Langley, BC Five O’Clock Somewhere 79.60
Photo: Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, ON, and Pavarotti maintained their lead following the cross-country phase of Eventing at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Canada is currently in second place in the team standings. Photo Credit – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com