Who will Canada send to Rio? Here are the stats and facts for each pair

 

Who will Canada send to Rio? Here are the stats and facts for each pair

Yesterday, the FEI released the list of nominated entries for the Olympics. Countries have until July 18th to make their final selection of riders and horses who will be competing at the Games. Canada has nominated 13 pairs out of the 15 who were qualified for Rio. Only four riders will be chosen to represent our nation this summer. The Canadian selectors have some serious decisions to make because this is one of the strongest field of riders and horses that Canada has ever had qualified for a major games.

I have looked at all of the FEI results during the qualifying period (Jan. 2015 – Jun. 20, 2016) that each of these 13 nominated pairs have achieved and crunched the numbers to give you a thorough overview of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.

The question is – “What is the goal of sending a Canadian team to Rio?” The reality is that we do not have a combination that would be a logical consideration for an individual medal if we look at the numbers on the world stage. The Canadian program is seriously lacking funding and there is a remote chance that we could finish a team in a placing that could meet the criteria for an infuse of funding.  (Watch for more to come on this in another article.) So I would assume selectors are looking to send a foursome of reliable finishers with respectable scores.

FEI results during the qualifying period at the three-star and four-star level. (Jan. 2015 – Jun. 20, 2016)

Rio 2016 Can nom riders

Proven four-star pairs

As you can see, there are only three duos who have completed at least one CCI4* event during the qualifying period:

  • Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee finished 37th at the 2016 Badminton CCI4*;
  • Lisa Marie Ferguson and Honor Me placed 47th at the 2016 Rolex CCI4*; and
  • Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master were 10th at the 2015 Luhmuhlen CCI4* AND 22nd at the 2015 Pau CCI4*.

However, there are three other pairs on this list who have successfully finished CCI4* events prior to January 2015:

  • Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High were 10th at the 2014 Rolex CCI4* and competed at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG) for Canada, finishing 40th individually;
  • Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm were 25th at the 2014 Rolex CCI4* with a double clear cross-country round; and
  • Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti represented Canada at the 2014 WEG, placing 28th individually.
Selena O'Hanlon & Foxwood High.

Selena O’Hanlon & Foxwood High.

 

The two standout pairs

Looking at the above chart, there are two pairs who are head and shoulders above the rest of the nominations on paper:

  • Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High; and
  • Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master.
Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master at the 2015 Luhmühlen CCI4*. CREDIT: Libby Law COPYRIGHT: LIBBY LAW PHOTOGRAPHY

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master at the 2015 Luhmühlen CCI4*. CREDIT: Libby Law COPYRIGHT: LIBBY LAW PHOTOGRAPHY

Not only are they the only combinations with an average three-star final score in the 50s, but they are also the only pairs who have proven that they can finish in the top 10 at a CCI4*. They can both deliver dressage scores in the low 40s, fly around a four-star cross-country track penalty-free and show jump with an average of only one rail down. The selectors would be foolish to leave these two stellar riders off of the team. Interesting to note, neither have horse or rider falls in the qualifying period.

 

The rest of the nominations

A quick glance at the chart above, will make it apparent that there are different advantages and possible risks associated with each pair. 

Kyle Carter was part of the 2010 silver medal-winning WEG team, the 2008 Beijing Olympic team and the 2007 Pan Ams team with Madison Park. But oddly, this 18-year-old veteran four-star mount who breezed around Rolex this spring was not a nominated entry for Canada. Kyle is listed with FR’s Trust Fund, a talented 10-year-old gelding who made his three-star debut last year. FR’s Trust Fund’s three-star experience is minimal but Kyle’s experience compensates for this and they did deliver a solid 15th place finish at the Jersey Fresh CCI3*.

Kyle Carter and FR's Trust Fund.

Kyle Carter and FR’s Trust Fund.

 

Holly Jacks and More Inspiration have international experience, representing Canada at the 2015 Aachen CICO3* Nations Cup event. They have also proven themselves competitive at the three-star level with a 4th place finish at the Plantation CIC3*. This spring, their results have been a bit inconsistent; Holly fell off at the Jersey Fresh CCI3*. But they did quite well at their last outing at the Bromont CCI3* where they finished in 12th place, adding only cross-country time penalties to their dressage score.

Holly Jacks & More Inspiration

Holly Jacks & More Inspiration

 

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D’Argouges have the 3rd best average three-star final score and were recently 2nd at Bromont CIC3*. They have been ultra consistent at all of their three-star events but they only made their three-star debut this winter. Although they lack three-star mileage, they have some team experience; they were members of the 2015 Pan Am silver medal-winning team and placed 8th individually.

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D'Argouges.

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D’Argouges.

 

Jessica Phoenix has an impressive four horses on the list and she has represented Canada at SIX major games. Pavarotti is her only mount on this list with past major games experience (winning gold the 2011 Pan Ams, silver at the 2015 Pan Ams and competing at the 2014 WEG) but oddly he is listed as the “reserve”. A Little Romance is mediocre in dressage but has a fair amount of three-star mileage and is a good show jumper. Bentley’s Best is relatively new to the three-star level, making his debut last fall but he delivered a surprising 3rd place finish at the Jersey Fresh CCI3* this May, despite his shakey cross-country record. Abbey GS had a rotational fall at her last outing at the Bromont CIC3*, so I’m assuming she will not be the selectors first pick. Jessica has been the highest placing Canadian at the last four major games so it seems likely she will be on a plane to Rio this summer with one of her mounts.

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti winning individual silver at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti winning individual silver at the 2015 Pan American Games.

 

Rachael McDonough has been competing Irish Rhythm since she was a junior rider and together they represented Canada at the NAJYRCs twice but they have yet to crack onto a senior team. At this year’s Bromont, they were the top placing Canadian pair in the CCI3* finishing in 4th place on their dressage score. Considering they are the pair on the nominated entry list to finish a CCI3* closest to their dressage score (they added one time penalty in show jumping), this could be their year to finally make a senior team.

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm.

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm.

 

Waylon Roberts has competed on two Pan Ams teams but not with Kelecyn Cognac, his Olympic hopeful mount. Since Waylon took over the ride on Kelecyn Cognac in 2014, from Aussie rider Kevin McNab, they have had consistent results at the three-star level. Most recently, they were 9th at the 2015 Bromont CCI3*.

IMG_5927 - Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac

Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac

 

Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee have had a very impressive season this winter/spring; finishing a CCI3* in Portugal and the Badminton CCI4* and most recently delivering a remarkable 9th place finish at the Luhmuhlen CIC3*. They have not had a cross-country jumping penalty this year but they typically rack up some time penalties. However, they always score in the low 40s in dressage and have proven that they can show jump a clear round at Badminton. Last year, they had a fall at fence two on cross-country at the Pan Ams which does not bode well for past team experience. But if you look at all the pairs in the qualifying period, she is not the only one to have a fall. If the selectors do not hold last year’s blip against them, I think this pair has the potential to be competitive in Rio if she can put in a fast ride.

Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee at the Luhmuhlen CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Kerstin Hoffman.

Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee at the Luhmuhlen CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Kerstin Hoffman.

 

Which four pairs do you think will be competing in Rio this summer?

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