Canada dominates at Red Hills International, USA

        Selena O’Hanlon  and Foxwood High            Photo Credit: Shannon Brinkman


Canadian Olympians, Selena O’Hanlon and Jessica Phoenix showed that Canadian eventers mean business for the 2019 season with stellar wins at the Red Hills International Horse Trials, held from March 7th–10th 2019, in Tallahassee, Florida.

O’Hanlon dashed through the oak and pine trees characteristic of the Florida panhandle to claim victory in the CCI 4*-S division riding John and Judy Rumble’s Foxwood High (“Woody”), a 16-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding sired by Rio Bronco W. A dressage score of 26.80 penalty points had the duo starting strong in second place but the next day’s course was no match for the cross-country machines. O’Hanlon and Woody were one of only two combinations to complete the course under the optimal time of 6:36 minutes, stopping the clock at 6:31 to bump into first place. With just one fault in the show jumping phase, they ended the competition on 30.80 penalties, safely ahead of the second-place finisher, Australia’s Clayton Fredericks, who amassed 38.90 penalty points.

“I was very pleased with our effort in dressage” said O’Hanlon “It was the first glitch-free test of the year, in fact. I thought we would have time penalties on cross-country due to so many combinations, and it’s a tough track to make the time on anyway, so I was super happy with our ability to make the time. I go out with the mindset every time that we need to improve on our scores and that’s all we can do”

Rounding out the CCI 4*-S top three were O’Hanlon and Woody’s 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games teammates, Phoenix and her 17-year-old Westphalian gelding, Pavarotti (Pavarotti van de Helle x Foxiland XX). The veteran partnership ended on a final score of 43.70 penalties for third place.


      Jessica Phoenix and Bentley’s Best            Photo Credit: Shannon Brinkman


But Phoenix wasn’t ready to call it quits: she rode an astonishing total of seven horses across the CCI 4*-S, CCI 3*-S, and Advanced divisions. Three of those rides earned top-10 finishes, including a dominant win in the CCI 3*-S division with Bentley’s Best (Hirtentanz 2 x Eichendorff), a 12-year-old Trakehner owned by The Bentley’s Best Group.

Phoenix and the grey gelding maintained their lead from the start, securing first after the dressage phase with 25.00 penalty points. They then squeaked out a clean cross-country round two seconds under the optimal time of 6:03 minutes, and lastly sped through the show jumping round with only four faults to end on a final score of 29.00 penalties.

“I’m so proud of Bentley’s Best,” said Phoenix. “He has been steadily improving over the last year, and I couldn't be happier with his performance. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you and your horse have done everything that you could do at a competition and come away with the win in a stacked division!”

Phoenix is particularly pleased with the win as her eyes are trained on the team gold at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games. She commented, “It sets us up for a stellar season and reassures us that our training is consistently improving and providing the results we need.”

O’Hanlon was also on hand to cheer Phoenix on to her CCI 3*-S win. O’Hanlon commented “She has worked so hard, just like I have, to get that win. The Canadians had a great showing at Red Hills this year and last”

Phoenix added, “It was a very proud moment to be standing next to Selena and [seventh place CCI 4*-S finisher, Brandon McMechan of Toronto, ON] in the winner’s circle. We have a strong, cohesive team and we couldn’t be happier.”