The third day at the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Championships – Pratoni 2022 proved to be what’s expected from eventing’s cross-country phase of the competition – a rollercoaster ride chalked full of unexpected twists and turns.

With the weather having cooled from the heat of the week and the enthusiastic crowds lining the course, the highlight of the Eventing Championships saw 88 starting combinations head out to contend with the unique and clever course. 72 pairs completed the 5.6-kilometre track of 30 obstacles including a challenging slide question at 7ABC.

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes at the top of the slide 7ABC. (Shannon Brinkman photo)

The variety of obstacles, track choices and grueling terrain proved too much for 16 combinations who retired or were eliminated, including one of the five from the Canadian contingent. Even with a day of ups and downs, one individual combination and three pairs will continue on to the final day of competition with the team up two places in 12th out of 16. One individual combinations and three pairs will continue on

Hawley Awad of Aldergrove, BC, and Jollybo (Jumbo x Danzig Connection), an 18-year-old British Sport Horse mare she co-owns with the Jollybo Syndicate LLC lead the team out 3rd of the day with a strong, clean round. Awad was able to bring back knowledge of the course to share with her teammates to help as they prepared to tackle the course after her.

“I was proud to go out first, for them to have that much belief in me to go around is something special,” said Awad. “To be on Jolly, she is absolutely amazing. I lost my rein coming down the slide, I literally came down the slide with one rein, any other horse would have run out, but she went straight. It’s that bond and relationship I have with her.”

Chef D’Equipe Rebbeca Howard agreed. “Hawley certainly set out and did her job, that was a hard role for her being number three out,” said Howard. “She went out and showed us the course was very much jumpable.”

Holly Jacks and Candy King. (Cealy Tetley photo)

With the pair jumping clean, getting through in the 9:50 optimal time was their obstacle for the day. “I went as quick as I could,” said Awad. “And time is going to be tough to get if you are going to get it. If I could do it again, there is a couple spots I would ride a little different.”

The pair finished in 10:41, clocking up 20.4 time-penalties, putting them on a final score of 55.2 and in 47th place, the highest of all the Canadian pairs for the day.

“I’m really pleased with myself and my horse, to finish my fourth world championship on a clean round is pretty rad,” shared Awad in the mixed zone. “It’s a lot of pressure but I want to focus on the positive. I feel good that Jolly came out fresh from the cross country as show jumping is always little hard for her.”

Canada’s next competitor Karl Slezak of Tottenham, ON, headed out on his mount Fernhill Wishes or “Chocy” (Chacoa x Gildawn Diamond), a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding he co-owns with Kirk Hoppner. With a great start to the course, the pair ran into difficulties about a third of the way through and with three refusals at element D, the Fischer Corner at fence 11, they were eliminated from the competition.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” shared Slezak. “He felt amazing, and he was galloping really well, ahead of his markers as we got to the second corner two and half. But it was the first time seeing the crowd and I couldn’t seem to get his focus back after he turned away from them.”

Thankful to have a team to put forward tomorrow, Howard plans to analyze and work with Slezak to learn from today’s experience. “Unfortunately for Karl and his horse, it wasn’t their day. We’re still wondering, trying to figure it out, ultimately it wasn’t meant to be for them.”

Dana Cooke and Mississippi. (Cealy Tetley photo)

Slezak and his team are committed to moving forward for the future of the pair, even if that’s not clear right after today’s elimination. “Where we go from here, not sure. We’ll get back to the barn and re-assess,” said Slezak. “I think crowds is a thing for him and he needs to see more and unfortunately, we don’t have those in North America. We have to get out and do more of these big events.”

The individual Canadian, Dana Cooke of Merritt, BC, with her 12-year-old German-bred mare Mississippi (Cassini II x Legaat), owned by the FE Mississippi Syndicate were third out competing for the Maple Leaf.

With some struggles through the course, the pair incurred a total of 40 jumping penalties for the mistakes at 7C, at the bottom of the Slide, and at element D of the Longines Hydroconquest Combinations at fence 21. They also clocked up 28.4 time-penalties, putting them on a final score of 102.7 going into show jumping tomorrow.

When reviewing her ride, Cooke reflected on the two run outs that cost the pair 20 penalty points each. “Not exactly what I was hoping for today. Being on a long rein you don’t have as much control on where they’re going and at the three, we just got there a little too tight,” she explained.

“The same coming out of the water,” Cooke continued. “I thought I was there and let the door open and we had a little run out. Everything else, she was awesome, she was a bit tired at the end, so I played it safe. Otherwise, I’m pretty thrilled with her – we finished!”

Howard was thoughtful as she reflected on the pair’s performance. “Dana has such a cool head. She really went out with a clear plan. The first 20 at the slide, I think surprised us all, really,” Howard said. “That would have been frustrating, but she really kicked it into gear and fought the rest of the way around. As a rider she dug deep and got her horse home.”

Mike Winter and El Mundo. (Cealy Tetley photo)

The fourth Canadian out of the start box in her first Team Canada appearance was Holly Jacks of Pemberton, BC with Candy King (Mr J Halim Burford x Moothyeb), a 12-year-old British Sport Horse gelding she co-owns with the Candy King Eventing Limited Partnership.

“Honestly, one of my best rides I’ve had on him,” said Jacks. “This course really set us up for success where I had the uphill to blow some steam off and then I was able to let go, and it was awesome. I felt like it went in slow motion and things went to plan.”

With the knowledge that both remaining pairs needed to complete the course, the original plan for Jacks and Candy King was altered just before going into their ride. “After Karl, we needed to get a team home with as minimal jump scores as possible,” explained Howard when talking about Jacks’ approach. “Holly was really good and took that direction and change of plan, which is hard for anybody, especially someone new to the team environment. She went out and her horse was strong, and they produced good jumps everywhere.”

Jacks has soaked up all that this new environment has provided her and her partner. “I did a few things that weren’t my original plan,” she shared. “I was told to take two options, so I did. I think that’s a big thing for my first senior team – taking it by stride and learning to listen to what needs to be done, making changes in my warm up, which is hard for me. But you know what, we got home and that’s what we needed.”

With a clip of a frangible marker at SAP Sunken Road fence 19A, the pair incurred 11 jumping faults and 32 time-penalties to finish on a final score of 75.4, ending the day as the second placed Canadian going into tomorrow’s final phase.

Rounding out the day for the Canadians, was Mike Winter of Thornhill, ON, with his mount El Mundo (H.G K M. Derks, Merselo x Calvaro F.C.) a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding he co-owns with Emma Winter and Jonathan Nelson.

The day didn’t turn out to be theirs either. With a mistake at the Strzegom Triple Bar fence 6 and then a refusal late at the skinny at 26B, the pair incurred 31 jumping penalties and 26.4 time penalties to add to the team score.

“He was really good at the beginning,” said Winter when reviewing his ride. “We came up the hill really strong, and had instructions to go long at the slide, which I did, and he did it really well. The places I was worried, like the coffin and in the water, he was really clever and rideable.”

Howard had similar thoughts. “Mike’s horse went out and again, same thing, did some really, really super things. They looked great. I know he’ll be super frustrated with where those 20 came that far in the course. He did all the tough things and then lost his steering at the end. But equally so many positive things with that round.”

Even with some disappointment, Winter remained positive for the final day of competition. “I feel a little bit like I let him down and maybe some of the people around me, but I do enjoy riding him, feel lucky to ride him and feel lucky to be here representing Canada and happy my family came to support me and Jonathan Nelson – I’m excited about tomorrow still.”

In final thoughts about where the team stands at the end of the phase that is uniquely for the discipline, Howard shared her hopes and aspirations for the future of the Canadian Eventing Team. “First and foremost, its great that we have a team heading forward tomorrow and so we are looking forward to presenting as a team and the show jump arena I was here for the test event, it’s a stunning event and the horses jump really well on it.”

She continued, “This is just a hard game and for everybody to go out and for us to execute everything all together is hard for us right now. We got some glimmers of some really great stuff, and we’ll keep trying to build on that,” said Howard.

For tomorrow’s stadium test, everyone is hopeful to see a great finish to the Championships. “We have some really good jumpers in the group,” Howard mused. “So, we will be taking care of them tonight and hope after today we can come out and feel good tomorrow.”

Complete results here.


Kelly Houtappels-Bruder and Flip. (Melanie Guillamot photo)

Singles Driving

On the third day of competition at the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Driving World Championships for singles held from Sept. 15 – 18 in Le Pin-au-Haras, FRA, 75 athlete and horse combinations competed in the marathon stage, with 71 moving forward to the cones tomorrow after four drivers were eliminated.

Similar to the cross-country in Eventing, the marathon phase of the combined Driving event has the combinations navigate obstacles out on the field in an allotted time. On the agenda for the day in the French countryside was an initial course over 6,225 m to be completed in an optimal time of 28.44. Then, after a short break an additional 7,910 m with eight obstacles including two through water, in a time of 33.54.

Entering the day in second place after Dressage, Kelly Houtappels-Bruder, originally from Ariss, ON, residing in Steensel, NED, and her partner Flip (Fidertanz x Carprilli), a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding whom she co-owns with her husband Frank Houtappels.

“Flip was super in the marathon,” said Houtappels-Bruder. “Unfortunately he pulled a shoe, which had an impact on our performance. Luckily, he is okay and we were able to finish the course without too much damage. We are sitting in third with less than a point to second. We will try to put pressure on tomorrow in cones… still anything can happen!”

Supported by their navigator and groom Meike Paridaans, Houtappels-Bruder finished with a score of 95.15 to hold in 12th place. The pair enters the final day of cones sitting in third place in the overall standings with a score of 136.74, aiming for their second finish on the podium in the past two years. Before 2020, when Houtappels-Bruder and Flip won the silver medal, Canada had never placed on the podium in a World Championships for Driving singles.

Click here for World Singles Driving info.