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Rhodes-Bosch Top Canadian at Ocala
Ocala, FL, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Shannon Brinkman/RedBayStock.com

Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch was the top placing Canadian in the CCI** at the Florida International three-day event and Ocala Fall Horse Trials November 16-18, 2007 in Ocala, Florida. Riding her own horse Port Authority Rhodes-Bosch finished ninth overall, followed by fellow Canadian Kyle Carter riding Right About Now in tenth.  

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India McEvoy (USA) and Jumbo Jake
Originally from Summerland, British Columbia, Rhodes-Bosch moved east in the spring of 2007 to work at The Fork Stables in Norwood, NC as a working student for Canadian high performance rider Rebecca Howard. Having trained with Howard since she was young, the move east to work with her was a natural step for Rhodes-Bosch.

Rhodes-Bosch made the move up to intermediate this summer and had completed three competitions before Florida, where she moved up to the two-star level on Howard's recommendation. She also plans to compete in the two-star at Jersey Fresh in the spring and hopes to compete at the North American Young Rider Championships next summer.

"Everything my horse and I do for the first time we do it together, and that makes it all the better," she said. Rhodes-Bosch has owned the nine-year-old, Selle Francais/Thoroughbred gelding for four years. He previously competed in jumpers and was ridden by show jumper Eric Ferrier when Rhodes-Bosch first purchased him. "He was perfect this weekend," she said. "He's always good on cross-country and it was his best dressage ever.", Competing in her first two-star India McEvoy won the CCI** riding Jumbo Jake, a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse who was bred in Great Britain by Pippa Woodall of Surrey. Kathy Culpin brought him to the US as a four-year-old, and trained and competed him with help from Suzanne Dale, Alexandra (Po) Tatham (who competed him to preliminary level) and Sarah Spofford Bilinski. Mark and Elena Patterson of New York City, NY, who have sponsored McEvoy for the past four years, purchased Jumbo Jake for McEvoy to ride.

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Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch (CAN) and Port Authority
"This is my first full season competing on the East Coast since I was in school before, and my first CCI on this horse," she said. "He'd never made time at a horse trials so I was concerned that we would be slow, but he was faster and fitter than I thought. I took three options on cross-country and we still made the time."

This spring McEvoy, a California native, graduated the University of Delaware with a degree in Chemistry and now she is focusing on her riding, working with Bruce Davidson.

It was a strong result for the Davidson family, with Bruce Sr. taking second place on the Irish-bred Cruise Lion and his son Bruce Jr., better known as Buck, taking fourth on May I Tell Ya (55.9). Bruce Sr., one of America's longest-standing competitors, showed his experience by laying down double clear rounds on cross-country and stadium jumping to climb the ranks from tenth to second overall (53.4). He also placed seventh on Rouge (61.2). 41 horses started in the challenging division.

Reigning Olympic Individual Gold medalist Leslie Law and Private Heart had clear rounds on cross-country and stadium, adding only two cross-country time penalties to their dressage score (52.5), to make nearly as impressive a leap in the standings as Davidson, jumping from eighth after dressage to third overall (54.5).

"It's always a confidence builder to win," commented McEvoy. "This sport is a lot smaller on the West Coast, but riding against Buck and Bruce and Leslie feels like an accomplishment in itself. Winning is great of course, but riding with these people is phenomenal."

New Jersey rider Holly Payne and Madeline, owned by Jill Gordon, were fourteenth after dressage and moved up to fifth after cross-country. Since several riders placed behind her had rails down she could afford the one rail that she knocked out of the cups and maintained fifth position in the end. Earlier this year the pair finished second in the Adequan/USEA Gold Cup CIC** at Stuart Horse Trials in New York.

The success of all of these riders was overshadowed by the tragic death of British competitor Eleanor Brennan, 21 and her horse Mister Barnabus after a fall on cross-country. A memorial was held for Brennan on Sunday morning before show jumping, and a service in her memory was held in Virginia, where she was training out of Plain Dealing Farm, on November 23.

McEvoy rode after Brennan's fall and said, "I was at another event where a rider died and it always does affect your ride - as a competitor you have to decide, if you go, that you can't think of it on course, or you'll make a mistake. You can't let it get to your head. It was a huge tragedy, very sad."

Rhodes-Bosch commented similarly, "I was in warm-up when she fell and it was certainly hard to go out and ride the course after that. I told myself that if I had a couple of bad fences I would pull up - I was fully prepared, if I was not in the right place mentally of it just wasn't my day, to pull up because it's just not worth that. But I went out and my horse was amazing. I had the biggest, goofiest grin on my face when we made it around."

Young Rider Jennie Brannigan and Cooper claimed the Open Intermediate division, earning an impressive 26.2 in dressage to take the early lead, and adding 4.4 time penalties on cross-country to still finish ahead of the dressage and final score of Buck Davidson on Ballynoecastle RM (34.8), who took home a red ribbon to match the one his dad earned in the two-star.

This year had its ups and downs for Brannigan, who won both the Jr/YR Training and Preliminary championships at the American Eventing Championships but was disqualified after the fact because she had competed at the intermediate level, an AEC qualifying rule that differs from usual event qualifications. At least now she can finish the season on a high note.

Canadian Mike Winter, based at his own Wayfarer Eventing in Newnan, Georgia took home third, fourth and seventh place ribbons in this division riding Easy Flight, Zoe and Secret Decision, respectively. Incidentally Mike and Emma Winter employ Jennie Brannigan at Wayfarer Eventing, where Brannigan rides and teaches.

Winter's teammate at the Pan-Am Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Kyle Carter, who bases his training business in Florida, finished fifth riding Madison Park, a horse that he co-owns with Al and Nicole Shinton of Uxbridge, Ontario and Anthony, Florida. Nicole also rode at Ocala and won open preliminary riding O-Topia on her dressage score of 25 and placed second with Pamela (28.8).


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