Top 10 Finish for Rebecca Howard and Canadian Eventing Team at Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Source: Equestrian Canada
Rebecca Howard took the maple leaf all the way to the eventing individual final on August 9, 2016, finishing in 10th place individually and contributing to Canada’s 10th place overall as a team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, BRA.
As the third and final phase of eventing, show jumping encompassed two rounds - the first to decide the team standings, followed by a second round for individual titles. The Canadian Eventing Team, comprised of Howard, 37, from Marlborough, GBR; Colleen Loach, 33, of Dunham, QC; Jessica Phoenix, 32, of Cannington, ON; and Kathryn Robinson, 31, of Kettering, GBR, moved up one spot from their cross-country team standing into the final position of 10th on a team score of 339.10.
France won team gold with 169.00, Germany took silver with 172.80, and Australia earned bronze with 175.30. Individually, Germany’s Michael Jung brought home gold on a score of 40.90 aboard Sam FBW. Silver went to Astier Nicolas and Piaf de B’Neville of France (48.00), and American Phillip Dutton took bronze with 51.80 riding Mighty Nice.
Jessica Phoenix completed her second consecutive Olympic appearance on the Canadian Eventing Team aboard A Little Romance, helping the team to a 10th place finish. Photo: ©Cealy Tetley - www.tetleyphoto.com
Heading into the team final, Howard and her London 2012 Olympic Games mount, Riddle Master (Rodero x Eyes to Rule), a 15-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding owned and bred in Canada by Blithe Hill Farm, were in 15th place individually after cross-country. A clear show jumping round over 12 obstacles and 15 jumping efforts, set by Brazilian course designer Guilherme Jorge, kept Howard’s score to 49.40 penalties and moved her up into 10th place, ensuring her berth as part of the top 25 moving forward to the individual final.
“He came through [cross-country] well and he felt good out there,” Howard commented about her team final round. “Through the season, I’ve felt like he’s gotten softer and more rideable. He’s a fun horse to be sitting on for two show jumping rounds for sure.”
The individual final was set over a slightly shortened course of nine jumps and 11 efforts, and raised in height from the previous round (1.25m) to 1.30m with spreads up to 1.60m. Howard and Riddle Master touched just one rail, the “C” element of a triple combination set close to the rail and directly adjacent to the spectators, for four jumping penalties and a final score of 65.80 to maintain 10th place.
“I thought he jumped fantastic and put in a huge effort,” said Howard of Riddle Master’s performance in the individual final. “It’s going to take a bit to absorb (my top 10 finish), but it’s amazing. It’s something you work on for so long, but then try to make it feel like a normal thing as much as you can. And now, it’s certainly time to let it sink in that it’s the final round at the Games and you rode it and are in the top 10.”
Next on the leaderboard for Canada was Phoenix, who completed her second Olympic Games partnered with another Canadian-bred horse, A Little Romance (A Fine Romance x Donaufurst), an 11-year-old Thoroughbred/Trakehner mare owned by Donald Leschied. Together, they finished the team final course with just one rail at a tricky oxer-vertical double combination at jump 12 that fell often throughout the day, adding four jumping penalties and bringing their final score to 131.60 for 38th place.
“She is almost like a pony (in height), but she has the biggest heart I’ve ever sat on; she’s amazing,” Phoenix said of A Little Romance. “To be here and finish with such a fast show jumping round on A Little Romance was a great feeling. It’s been a great week and the people that we’re with – we’ll always remember them and it makes these experiences that much more enjoyable.”
Loach closed out her Olympic debut in 42nd place with Qorry Blue d’Argouges a 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding sired by Mr. Blue and owned by London 2012 Olympian, Peter Barry. Like Phoenix, they had just one rail down at the “C” element of jump 12, bringing their final score to 145.70.
“My horse was great, I just needed to sit up a bit more at that vertical,” Loach commented on her final round. “He felt great and jumped amazing. I learned a lot and we’ll be back to fight another day.”
In her Olympic debut aboard Qorry Blue d’Argouges, Colleen Loach from Dunham, QC helped Canada secure a top 10 finish in eventing. Photo: ©Cealy Tetley - www.tetleyphoto.com
Unfortunately, Robinson was eliminated during the cross-country phase after reaching the maximum three refusals late in the challenging course aboard Let It Bee, her 15-year-old Westphalian gelding, and was therefore not eligible to compete in the final show jumping phase.
The Canadian Eventing Team was supported at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by Chef d’Équipe, Clayton Fredericks; EC Eventing Manager, Fleur Tipton; Team Veterinarian, Dr. Jill Copenhagen; and Team Farrier, Andy Vergut.
Next up at the Games for equestrian sport will be dressage, which gets underway August 10 and 11 with the grand prix, followed by jumping which begins on August 14.
For more information on equestrian events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, including the full schedule of equestrian competition and live results, please visit www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian. Further information on the Canadian Equestrian Team can be found at www.equestrian.ca.
Main Photo: Rebecca Howard of Marlborough, GBR rode Riddle Master to a 10th place finish in both the individual and team standings in eventing on August 9 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo: ©Cealy Tetley - www.tetleyphoto.com