The first half of 2019 has provided its fair share of challenges for Karl Slezak, but the Tottenham, ON, native persevered for a top-five finish with Fernhill Wishes (Chacoa x Gildawn Diamond) in the MARS Equestrian Bromont Three-Day Event CCI 4*-L, held June 5-9, 2019, in Bromont, QC.
“I’ve had very few significant injuries riding, but this year I’ve had two,” explained Karl, who is a member of the 2019 Eventing National Team Program Development Squad. “I hurt my knee in January, so I was out for five or six weeks. I ran Chocy in the Red Hills CCI 3*-S [in March] and he was great there, but then I broke my wrist. It definitely affected my plan; the original plan was going to [the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]. It was a heartbreaker not to get there and it’s unfortunate things didn’t work out this year in terms of my preparation, but I had a good support crew that kept him going and in the end it all worked out.”
By the time of the Bromont Three-Day, Karl showed no visible signs of his injuries or the effects of the unexpected changes to his training and competition plans. He and Chocy started out strong in the dressage phase on June 7, placing eighth on a score of 33.10 penalties. The next day, the pair jumped a clear round over a challenging cross-country course that caused nearly a third of the CCI 4*-L entries to retire or be eliminated. Karl and Chocy sailed over 40 massive jumping efforts and crossed the finish line just 39 seconds over the optimum time of 10 minutes to bump up a spot in the standings.
“He was phenomenal cross-county,” said Karl of Chocy. “The whole course seemed to walk a bit smoother than it rode – the beginning felt a little rough and it was a bit scrappy, but he never gave up. He hung a leg off the first water jump and I lost a rein, but he never came off that line; he was totally locked on and ready for that next element. And that’s just the way he goes, he’s completely game and loves cross-country.”
A beautifully executed double-clear show jumping round on June 9 pushed Karl and Chocy into their final placing of fifth with a final score of 48.70 penalty pointes. Karl commented, “I’m pretty happy, and he’s a great horse. I’ve never run the 4* at Bromont, so I was pretty excited to get here and it turned out well.”
Chocy’s impressive performance at the Bromont Three-Day proved the bay has the chops to potentially make the Canadian Eventing Team for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, PER. Speaking to Chocy’s chances of team selection, Karl said, “He’s just an all-around good horse. His dressage just keeps getting better and better, I don’t think he’s put in his best test yet. He’s a steady cross-country horse and has been consistently jumping around clean at that level, and I think he can make the time for sure. And show jumping is definitely his strong point, so I think he’d be a good contender.”
Finishing just behind Karl in the CCI 4*-L division was Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach of Dunham, QC, with Qorry Blue D’Argouges (Mr. Blue x Count Ivor), a 15-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by Peter Barry. The veteran combination finished on a final score of 50.40 penalty points for sixth place. Colleen achieved a second top-10 finish in the CCI 3*-L division, where she and FE Golden Eye (Goldfever x Contendro I), the seven-year-old Hanoverian that she co-owns with Amanda Bernhard, placed seventh on a score of 34.70 penalties.
In the CCI 3*-S division, it was Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON, who cracked the top five with her 17-year-old Westphalian gelding and 2012 London Olympics partner, Pavarotti (Pavarotti van de Helle x Foxiland XX). The pair placed fifth on a final score of 36.70 penalties. They were joined in the victory gallop by Dana Cooke, a Canadian residing in Mooresville, NC, and FE Mississippi (Cassini II x Legaat), a nine-year-old Württemberger mare owned by the FE Mississippi Syndicate LLC, who scored 41.10 penalties for ninth place.
Canada’s up-and-coming riders also earned notable results in the Under 25 (U25) divisions at the Bromont Three-Day Event. Shelby Brost of Red Deer, AB, finished on her dressage score of 33.60 penalty points for third place in the CCI-U25 3*-L division with Crimson (Etta x Cojak), the 16-year-old Thoroughbred mare she co-owns with Wayne Brost. In the CCI-U25 2*-L division, Elise Hicks of Trenton, ON, and her seven-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Max Power (Philanthropist x Explosive Red), also finished on their dressage score, placing seventh on 38.80 penalty points.
EC wishes to thank Sport Canada for its support of athletes through the Athlete Assistance Program and the International Single Sport Events – Hosting Program.
For full results from the Bromont Three-Day Event, click here.