Guadalajara, Mexico – The Canadian Eventing Team comprised of James Atkinson of Mountain Road, MB, Hawley Bennett-Awad of Langley, BC, Rebecca Howard of Salmon Arm, BC, Selena O’Hanlon of Elgin, ON, and Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, ON, will begin competition on Friday, October 20, at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Atkinson, 34, will ride Gustav, a 12-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding owned by Carolyn Hoffos; Bennett-Awad, 34, will ride Five O’Clock Somewhere, a 10-year-old American Thoroughbred gelding owned by Sue Church and Kimberly Barron; Howard, 32, will ride Roquefort, a 13-year-old Dutch/Thoroughred gelding that she co-owns with The Fork Stables; O’Hanlon, 30, will ride John Rumble’s 8-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding Foxwood High; and Phoenix will be riding Pavarotti, a 9-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Don J. Good.
All five Canadian team horses passed the mandatory first horse inspection on the morning of October 20 at the Club Hípico, where the dressage and show jumping phases of eventing will be held. Saturday’s cross-country phase will take place at the Santa Sofia Golf Club.
Canadian Eventing Team Chef d’Equipe Graeme Thom was pleased with how easily the horses traveled to Mexico earlier in the week. “The horses are sound and fit,” said Thom. “The riders, grooms and entire group have been fantastic to accommodate all the hiccups of coming with horses to a foreign country.” Thom noted that the team’s level of optimism is very high going into this Pan Am Championship, saying, “We have four riders from the 2010 World Equestrian Games and we have great horses.”
Four of Canada’s Pan American Games Team members were on the silver medal team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.
Canadian Eventing International Technical Advisor David O’Connor is looking forward to working with his team over the next three days of Pan Am competition. “The cross-country course is at a true championship level, but it suits our horses and riders,” said O’Connor. “I’m excited about getting to the course on Saturday.”
At the last Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Canada won a team silver medal, O’Connor had been in his post as International Technical Advisor for less than two years. “This is so different to four years ago,” he said. “The level of riding in this team is so good. It’s been fun to watch their progress.”
The team format at the Pan American Games is identical to the format used at the Olympic Games. Each eligible nation may have up to five rider/horse combinations on its team, with the best three scores to count towards the final team classification. Nations unable to field a team may send one or two rider/horse combinations to compete in the individual competition. Ten nations have sent teams of three to five members to Guadalajara; an additional three nations are represented by individuals.
A total of 49 competitors will contest the XVI Pan American Games. Team and individual medals will be presented at the conclusion of show jumping competition on Sunday, October 23.
The Canadian Eventing Team trains under the leadership of David O’Connor, International Technical Advisor. Team Chef d’Equipe 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 American Games.
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.
Photo: Canadian Eventing Team member Selena O’Hanlon of Elgin, ON, presents John Rumble’s Foxwood High at the mandatory horse inspection on October 20 at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo Credit – Jan Beran