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Hawley Bennett's Gin N Juice Wins Her First CCI***
Bromont, QC, Canada
by Amber Heintzberger
Hawley Bennett (CAN)
At her last event with Gin N Juice Hawley Bennett was taken off the cross-country course in an ambulance. She and the mare parted company at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** over a corner fence and Bennett took a smack to the head in the process.

A little rest and a few weeks of training, with a confidence-building run around the intermediate at Waredaca (MD) in the meantime, saw the pair back in form to win the Bromont CCI*** and Todd Sandler Challenge in Bennett's home country of Canada over the weekend, standing second after dressage and cross-country, then posting a double clear round over the large, forward and flowing show jumping course, which suited the young mare. Bennett was understandably thrilled with Linda Paine's homebred 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare, who won on her dressage score of 51.9 in her first completed three-star competition.

"To finish any three-star on your dressage score is great, but at her first one it's just amazing. I'm so happy for her," she said. "She was good on the flat, tried really hard on cross-country and jumped a clear stadium round. You can't ask for more. We just brought her back to Buck's and she looks great. It's nice having a young one!"

They took the lead when Corinne Ashton and Dobbin brought the rail down on the second-to-last fence, a square oxer in the middle of the triple combination. Only .3 penalties separated the top two riders.

Ashton's one rail with Dobbin dropped the pair to second place on a final score of 55.6. Phillip Dutton held on to third place with a clear round and 1 time fault aboard Kheops du Quesnay (61.2). Mara Dean on High Patriot and Allison Springer on Destination Known put in fault-free rounds to finish fourth and fifth, respectively. The only other double-clears went to Peter Atkins aboard HenryJota Hampton and Boyd Martin with Rock On Rose.

With her business based at Kingsway Farm in Temecula, California it was a long trip for Bennett to Canada's only three-star event, located about an hour east of Montreal in Bromont, Quebec. Though Ginny has been stabled at Davidson's barn in Pennsylvania since before Jersey Fresh, Bennett has flown back and forth to keep her business going.

"I groomed for Stuart Black at Bromont a couple of years ago but this was my first time competing there," she said. "It's stunning! It's a beautiful venue and Derek [diGrazia] and Jay [Hambly] did an unbelievable job on the cross-country course. It was like a little Rolex and was definitely challenging to ride."

Looking forward, Bennett hopes to run Ginny at the three-star at Rebecca Farm in Montana, where she'll also compete her Olympic veteran Livingstone. Then ideally she would like to take Ginny to the Fair Hill International CCI*** in the fall. "It costs about $10,000 to go to Fair Hill from the West Coast so I'll have to get the money together," she said.

In the CCI** Karl Slezak, Caledon East, Ontario, held on to his lead in CCI** division and the Eaman Perpetual Trophy with a clear round riding Penny Rowland's Charley Farley, a horse that he has only been riding for a few weeks. Rowland competed Charley through the two-star level and offered the ride to Slezak so that she can focus on her young horses for a while. Ideally Slezak would like to join a group of Canadian eventers planning to travel to England for the Blenheim CCI*** this fall.

Not only did the Canadians make a grand slam sweep of the CCI divisions at Bromont, it was a good weekend for the West Coasters as well. Nick Cwick, who moved east last year from California to work for Buck Davidson, finished second in the CCI** riding Simply Priceless. Phillip Dutton and Dario finished third on 59.0.

In the CCI* Canadian team veteran Kelli McMullen-Temple, Round Hill, VA, led from start to finish riding Veelion, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Carl Bouckaert. She has been riding the young horse since he was imported from England as a five-year-old. Last month he won his first intermediate and McMullen-Temple has high hopes for his future.

Riding for Stars and Stripes for the first time, Australian transplant Boyd Martin and Minotaure du Passoir placed second in the CCI*, close behind McMullen-Temple. Both riders finished on their dressage scores - McMullen-Temple on a 42.4 and Martin with 46.1. A total of 27 horses completed the division. Canadian Young Rider Olivia Todaro had one rail down with Cosmic Girl, allowing Penny Rowland and Flying Finn to move up to third.

The event at Bromont experienced record entries this year and welcomed riders from several different nations. An added feature this to this year's competition was the introduction of the Greenbrier Farm Team Cup, a friendly team competition that gave the CCI riders an opportunity earn $10,000 prize money divided between the first and second placed teams. As a member of the winning team, Hawley Bennett said that she appreciated the opportunity to pay for some of her travel expenses to get to the event.

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