Four-peat not in the cards

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

Jill Henselwood's North American championship run is over.

There will be no four-peat at the Spruce Meadows show jumping tournament for the Oxford Mills, Ont., rider.

All thanks to the Pan-American Games, which mandates her top ride, Special Ed, be quarantined as of Saturday night -- in anticipation of the Games later this month in Brazil -- and prevent the duo from competing in Sunday's $175,000 Chrysler Classic.

"I can't get it," said the always lively rider whose won the last three titles within the North American tournament with Special Ed. "When you miss that one, it doesn't matter how bad the field is, someone will amass too many points to take a zero."

The North American championship is based on results with the same horse-rider competition in the four major events during the week-long tournament but the two weekend events are worth twice as much as the first two.

Henselwood could try to win the North American title with Black Ice but going that route would mean not riding Special Ed in the $200,000 Atco Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Riders can only use one horse in the summer tour's richest event.

"Black Ice is a great candidate but that would mean I couldn't jump Special Ed on Saturday," Henselwood said. "I could make that decision and try to win the QE and win the car. But I prefer to jump Special Ed on Saturday."

Eric Lamaze's best horse, Hickstead, will also go into quarantine after Saturday's event. The same goes for a pair of American riders competing at Spruce Meadows, Lauren Hough and Cara Raether.

Henselwood could be bitter at the situation but her goal of making it to the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing overrides her disappointment. Canada must medal, or finish in the top-four if the U.S. reaches the podium, to qualify a team for the Games.

"It's choices. I don't have to ride for the (Canadian) team," Henselwood said. "I can stay here and win the money, continue to win the money, and come back in the fall and win some more money or I can go help us get qualified for the Olympic Games. It's my choice and my dream to help us qualify for the Olympic Games and get on that team to go to China.

"If I had to miss the whole North American, then get my suitcase because I'm packing.

"But if I could have my cake and eat it too, I'd really like to have a shot at the North American championship."

The good news for show jumping fans is those horses will be competing in the International Ring for most of the week. The event is already hindered by the loss of a couple of strong competitors in Americans Beezie Madden and Richard Spooner -- who have gone to the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany. As well, three fifths of Canada's Pan-American Games team, Ian Millar, Karen Cudmore and Mac Cone aren't here.


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