With rainy skies threatening earlier in the day, things brightened up as the competition began on day one of Dressage for the Canadian Eventing Team. Three Canadian athlete and horse combinations took to the ring in the first of two days of this phase of the Championships.

First up for the Canadian team was two-time Olympian 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. In the first session, the pair finished with a score of 65.25% translating to 34.8 penalties and leaving them in 29th place at the end of day one. “I was happy with her, it was unfortunate she cantered out of the first halt but I thought she got back into her rhythm and did a solid Jollybo test,” said Awad.

Awad is looking forward to the cross country phase on Saturday, “this is special for me, representing Canada for the fourth time and second instance with Jollybo, the horse deserves it more than I do, she’s been one of the best horses in Canada for many years,” Awad added. “She’s very consistent, hopefully we maintain that on Saturday as it’s a big track and I think I’m sitting on the best cross country horse in the world and I’m going to do my very best – now we get to do the fun stuff.”

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes completing their dressage phase at the FEI World Eventing Championships in Pratoni, ITA. (Cealy Tetley photo)

Awad feels Pratoni has a different feel, “the Italian people have been amazing, I half joke with my husband about moving here! The food is exceptional and we were hosted by Italian eventer Mattia Luciani and his family, they were the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life,” she said.

Next in dressage for Canada was Karl Slezak of Tottenham, ON, and Fernhill Wishes or “Chocy” (Chacoa x Gildawn Diamond), a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding he co-owns with Kirk Hoppner. The duo completed the test with a score of 62.22% and a total of 37.8 penalties to finish in 38th place for the day.

“Chocy was great, I was pleased with him,” said Slezak. “Unfortunately he didn’t get those changes today but we did everything else I was hoping for – he loves performing in front of crowds like today.”

That hope comes from preparation over the past months with Slezak and Fernhill Wishes having travelled over to the UK this spring to compete at the Badminton Horse Trials, one of only six annual Concours Complet International Five Star events. The pair then decided to stay in England to train in the lead up to World Championships.

“It was fantastic,” said Slezak, referring to their time in the UK. “We were able to train with Rodney Powell and Alex Franklin, it was phenomenal – we were able to meet other great trainers to receive some feedback, the whole experience was unbelievable.” Being able to compete in Italy for World Championships also hits close to home for Slezak, as his mother is Italian.

Looking ahead to Saturday, Slezak is confident in his horse after completing a course walk. “The course looks great, all of it looks doable, lines look good – definitely some challenges out there with the hills at the beginning but it will be good to cruise at the end.”
he said.

Competing as an individual in Pratoni was Dana Cooke of Merritt, BC, and Mississippi (Cassini II x Legaat), a 12-year-old German-bred mare owned by the FE Mississippi Syndicate, who compiled a score of 65.74% (34.3 penalty points) to finish 28th at the end of day one. “I’m quite happy with Mississippi,” said Cooke. “I hoped she was more forward, but I think she put in a good and an accurate test, we tried pretty hard and I’m quite happy.”

Cooke began her partnership with the mare as a four-year-old. “I wasn’t going to buy her,” she recounted. “But my coach Clayton Frederiks convinced me to try her, and I was sold. She’s very sweet, pretty quiet but picks and chooses who she likes. If she likes you, she always fixes her ears and says hello,” Cooke continued. “Everybody recognizes her, and we call her Ms. Perfect, because she generally doesn’t put a foot wrong.”

Onwards to Saturday’s cross-country, Cooke shared some initial thoughts, “It’s definitely not a dressage show,” she said. “There’s a lot to do out there, the combinations use the terrain quite well and the camber of the ground – there is definitely some tricky questions out there.”

In her first role as the chef d’équipe, two-time Olympian Rebecca Howard is getting used to her new title. “So far I’m enjoying it and it’s a great group of riders to work with and great group of support staff around us,” she said.

When asked about today’s tests she remained very positive. “For Day One, I think the riders should be proud and happy with themselves, everyone has gone out and done what they can do and that’s all we can ask. Hopefully it gives the other two confidence going into tomorrow.”

On Friday the remaining Canadian combinations will be competing in dressage when Holly Jacks and Candy King start at 10:41 CEST and then Mike Winter and El Mundo at 3:19 CEST.

On Saturday starting at 10:30 am (CEST), athletes will switch their focus to contest the cross-country course designed by course designer and show director Giuseppe della Chiesa.

For further information, please click here; live results here.


Kelly Houtappels-Bruder, originally from Ariss, ON, residing in Steensel, NED aims to reach the podium at the 2022 Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Driving World Championships for singles held from Sept. 15 – 18 in Le Pin-au-Haras, FRA.

Coming off a silver medal at the 2020 FEI Driving World Championships for singles in Pau, FRA, Houtappels-Bruder looks to continue her success with her partner Flip (Fidertanz x Carprilli), a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding whom she co-owns with her husband Frank Houtappels.

Houtappels-Bruder will be competing in her fifth World Championships and this year’s competition will feature 75 riders from 18 countries, with the Dressage phase beginning for the Canadian duo on Friday at 2:30 pm CEST. The pair will then compete in the Marathon stage on Saturday and conclude the championship on Sunday with cones.

Please click here for times and results for the Canadian driving pair.