They don’t call him “The Flying Frenchman” for nothing. Two-time defending Canadian Show Jumping Champion Yann Candele (Caledon, ON), took the initial round of the Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships tonight in the Royal Horse Show, positioning himself well heading into tomorrow evening’s final.

Although Candele incurred four time-penalties when Game Ready lowered the height of the sixth fence, he was still able to post an impressively quick time on course to come out ahead of second placed Ainsley Vince and her mare Frieda.

“I knew I was fast,” remarked Candele following the competition. “But I was surprised to win with the rail down. To win tomorrow we will have to be clear. Tonight was about placing yourself well to move forward tomorrow.”

Vince, of Burlington, ON, made a last-minute decision to compete Frieda and admitted things could have gone either way for the mare who has not shown indoors in the last two years.

“I’ve done this class many times before,” said Vince. “On opening night you need a solid round. She was really smart and handled all the tests well.”

Vince’s conservative clean round put the pair into second place on an overall score of 65.83 seconds, barely edged out by Candele’s time-plus-penalties score of 65.27 seconds. London Olympian Jill Henselwood (Oxford Mills, ON) currently sits in third with a time of 66.94 seconds.

Australian Olympic medalist Clayton Fredericks made his debut in the opening round of the Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing Challenge, following the show jumping this evening in the Ricoh Coliseum. Although he was unable to oust five-time defending champion Waylon Roberts (Port Perry, ON) from the top spot, he insists he stuck to his plan for the first round over what proved to be a much tougher course than was anticipated.

“It’s always difficult to go into a strange arena on a strange horse,” explained Fredericks, who finished in sixth place following round one. “For me, part of it has to be building the confidence of the horse. The owners have given me a responsibility and after walking the course, I knew it was going to be tough. If you went too fast, your horse would get flustered. I probably could have gone a little quicker, but I enjoyed it and am pleased with how Wild T’Mater jumped tonight.”

Roberts agreed with Fredericks, although he decidedly did not go for the “conservative clear round”, preferring to count on the “home court advantage” of coming in as five-time defending champion on a horse who was clearly comfortable in the ring.

“My horse is one of the more experienced horses here,” said Roberts of Sable Giesler’s Evil Munchkin following the competition. “Tonight’s very challenging course seemed to prey on rider’s weaknesses – you had to be so accurate within a few inches, and if you were not, you were going to have trouble. I think we saw that out there tonight.”

The only rider who has beaten Roberts for the overall title, Penny Rowland (Mono, ON), guided Roundabout, owned by Don Good, in the first round of Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing challenge to second with a clean round and a time of 73.07 seconds. Roberts’ father, Ian Roberts (Port Perry, ON) currently sits third with a clean round and time of 75.00 seconds.

The Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships and Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing both conclude tomorrow evening in the Royal Horse Show before the Ontario Toyota Dealers Royal Rodeo returns to the Ricoh Coliseum Sunday, November 4th. Amber Marshall, star of CBC’s Heartland, will be co-hosting the Royal Rodeo once again.