The rolling hillsides of south-central Ontario will thunder with hooves and ring with the roar of the crowd when the thrilling equestrian cross-country event for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games comes to Mono on July 18, 2015.
“Top riders from the Americas and Caribbean are coming to the Town of Mono for this exciting event,” said Saäd Rafi, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015). “The all-new course we’re designing and building will challenge the skill of these riders and their horses, as well as leave a legacy for the sport in Ontario.”
Thousands of spectators are expected to attend the one-day cross-country event at Will O’Wind Farm, home of Geoff and Ann Morgan. The Government of Canada is providing funding for the cross-country course, which will be known as the Pan Am Cross-Country Centre for the Games.
The course — a Concours Complet International (CCI) 2 Star (2*) Championship Cross-Country Course — will be approximately 4.4 kilometres to 5.5 kilometres in length with 30 to 35 jump efforts, such as water features, drops and log jumps.
The design by Wayne Copping, an International Equestrian Federation (FEI)-certified course designer.
Cross-country is part of the three-day eventing competition, which also includes dressage and jumping. All three equestrian disciplines will be Olympic qualifiers for Rio 2016. The Pan Am Cross-Country Centre is located approximately 30 kilometres from the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Centre where the remaining equestrian competitions (dressage, jumping) will be held in July 2015.
“The Government of Canada is proud to support the TORONTO 2015 Games and the upgrades necessary to create a world-class venue for the equestrian cross-country competition,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “Canadian riders have had great success at past Games, and we look forward to seeing them triumph on home soil just 18 months from now.”
Canadian rider and Olympian Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, Ontario, is the defending Pan Am champion in the eventing competition. She also won the 2011 Pan Am team silver along with Selena O’Hanlon, Rebecca Howard, Hawley Bennett and James Atkinson.
Equestrian, which has been part of the Pan Am sport schedule since the first Games in 1951, is one of a handful of sports where gender is not an issue and men and women compete equally against one another.
“The Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are providing great opportunities for communities like Mono to shine in 2015,” said Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. “Not only will hosting the Games benefit people in communities all across the province, it will establish Ontario as a premier sport hosting destination long after the 2015 Games draw to a close.”
“The Town of Mono is excited to welcome the world to our community, and showcase the best of rural Ontario to all the athletes, spectators and dignitaries coming here in 2015,” said Mono Mayor Laura Ryan. “Hosting the cross-country equestrian event at Will O’Wind will further position our region as a centre of equine excellence in Headwaters Horse Country and provide a lasting legacy for our community long after the Games are over.”
This announcement from the TO2015 organization has been long anticipated but oddly delayed as a course of this kind requires in many cases years of preparation and building. Fortunately the property owners have experience on hosting equestrian events and there is little doubt that the event will be of the highest calibre.