Bromont, Quebec – The Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event, The Todd Sandler Challenge, began with dressage competition on Thursday, July 7 in Bromont, Quebec. The 26th edition of the Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event is the final North American outing for athletes seeking a berth at the 2012 Olympic Games. The results of the CCI3* and CIC3* divisions will help American and Canadian Team selectors determine their representatives for London.
American Jonathan Holling of Ocala, FL, sits in first place following the opening phase of dressage in the CCI3* division. Riding Downtown Harrison, an eight-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Connie Holling, he received a winning score of 46 penalty points, establishing a narrow lead in a starting field of 18 horse and rider combinations.
“He’s a fantastic horse, and I couldn’t be any happier,” said Holling of his performance with Downtown Harrison. “This is my horse’s first three-star, and he’s just eight years old. I have had him since he was two. It’s very gratifying to reach this point with a horse I’ve started myself.”
Last year, Holling and Downtown Harrison enjoyed success at the Bromont Three Day Event, finishing seventh in the two-star division.
In second place behind Holling is fellow American Michael Pollard of Chatsworth, GA, who received 48.2 penalties for his dressage performance riding his 2011 Pan American Games team gold medal horse, Schoensgreen Hanni. Sitting third with 49.6 penalties is double Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton of West Grove, PA, riding Atlas.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s demanding cross-country phase, Holling said the CCI3* cross-country course, much of which is newly designed for 2012, left a strong first impression after walking it for the first time.
“It’s huge,” he said, adding that he believes Downtown Harrison is ready for the challenge. “I’m confident he can answer all the questions. I know he’s a really quality horse.”
Bromont’s cross-country course is designed by Derek Di Grazia of the United States and built by Canada’s Jay Hambly.
“We’ve certainly upgraded the course to the standard it needs to be as an Olympic selection trial,” said Bromont Event Director, Sue Ockendon, noting that a total of 27 new fences were added to the course in preparation for the 2012 event. “Bromont is the only FEI three-star event in Canada, and we feel it’s important for the Canadian team to have a selection trial in Canada.”
The dressage phase of the CCI1* division was also contested on Thursday by an impressive starting field of 56 horses. American Alison Springer currently sits in first place on a score of 42.8 penalties riding Eclipse. Tied for second place with a score of 45.9 penalty points are Americans Alexandra Green on Falkonet and Doug Payne riding Royal Tribute. Canada’s Shandiss Wewiora of Oakville, ON, riding Prince Mayo is fourth with 46.9 penalties.
Dressage competition at the Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event will resume with the CIC3* and CCI2* divisions beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday. The CIC3* will see some of Canada’s top Olympic hopefuls, including 2011 Pan Am Games silver medalists Hawley Bennett-Awad, Rebecca Howard and Selena O’Hanlon, putting their best foot forward for the Canadian Olympic Team selectors. The cross-country phase in all divisions will take place on Saturday, followed by the final show jumping phase on Sunday, June 10.
A total of 149 horses are contesting the four divisions of the 2012 Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event, which is one of North America’s most prestigious three day events. The venue, which was built to host the equestrian events at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, is a fitting site for the final team selections for the Canadian and U.S. Olympic Eventing Teams. A total of $25,000 in prize money and awards have been generously donated by Volvo, Beaulieu Canada and several other sponsors.
The Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event, The Todd Sandler Challenge, is made possible in part through a contribution from the Government of Canada. The organizing committee also wishes to thank the Gouvernement du Québec, Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport, for their support of this year’s event.
For more information about the Bromont Three Day Event, including live scoring, please visit the bilingual website, www.bromontcci.com.
Photo: Jonathan Holling of Ocala, FL and Downtown Harrison. Credit: Cealy Tetley