Two Combinations Coached by Oded Shimoni for Canada’s World Games Team Looking to 2015 Pan Americans
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Oct. 3, 2014
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
When Megan Lane rode her Caravella at the World Equestrian Games her smile told the story of fulfillment of a dream that a couple of years earlier had seemed like a distant hope for the 23-year-old Canadian.
David Marcus and Chrevi’s Capital, team mates, were drenched in a downpour reminiscent of the pair’s performance at the Olympics in London two years earlier but in Normandy they rode through it to post the second highest score for the Canadian team.
Oded Shimoni, the Wellington-based Israeli trainer whose competition record included three World Games and two European Championships, had taken over coaching Megan and Caravella as well as helping her with the horses of Deer Ridge Equestrian in Loretto, Ontario where Megan Is the in-house trainer.
In early 2014 Megan and Caravella (Contango x Riverman) were in Florida and under the watchful eye of Oded as she competed on the Global Dressage Festival circuit that was crucial to making her first major championship team for Canada.
Oded was already coaching David Marcus, the American-born rider who with Chrevi’s Capital was also seeking to go to the WEG in Normandy. He had trained with Robert Dover until the six-time American Olympian became chef d’equipe of the U.S. team 18 months ago.
Megan and the 13-year-old Canadian-bred mare that she competed through the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships collecting six medals along the way had stars in her eyes. But in 2013, the pair was a long way out of contention as a WEG prospect. Their average Grand Prix scores that year was below 66 per cent and they ranked 212th in the world.
By the time the Canadian WEG team was selected, Megan and Caravella, the horse that was competing as a Hunter and schooling dressage when her family bought it five yeasr earlier, had moved to the top of the country’s WEG rankings with scores that were averaging more than 70 per cent at Grand Prix and a world ranking of 58.
Both David and the 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Deborah Miculinic as well as Megan and Caravella were named to the team of four horses and riders to go to Europe to prepare for the WEG.
Preparations hit a speed bump when Germany’s Volker Moritz, a Special Advisor to the Canadian team, took over the coaching of Megan and Caravella just weeks before Normandy but the 23-year-old rider switched back to Oded in time for the WEG.
With the world championship in the books, both David on Chrevi’s Capital and Megan on Caravella are looking to help Canada fulfill the challenging goal of winning the team gold medal at the Pan American Games at home in Toronto in July.
Ashley Holzer, the star Canadian rider with four Olympics on her resumé who skipped the WEG to focus on developing a pair of Grand Prix mounts, may also be a leading candidate. On Tiva Nana, a KWPN mare she started competing at CDI Grand Prix only this year, Ashley dominated Dressage at Devon World Cup show in Pennsylvania last month.
The United States, that placed fourth at the WEG, is standing in Canada’s way at the Pan Ams.
Pan Ams gold is the best chance teams from the Americas have to book a berth at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016—except for Brazil as the Olympic host which automatically gets a start as long as enough combinations get qualifyng scores.
Failure to qualify a team at the Toronto Pan Ams in July means going the more difficult route of trying to qualify at least three individual combinations to form a “composite” team.
Oded, though, is used to succeeding after starting as an underdog.
As a kid, he began riding in jeans and sneakers in Tel Aviv’s public parks. After mandatory military service in Israel, where his Hungarian Jewish parents–his mother an Auschwitz survivor–settled when Israel was created as a nation after World War II, he headed to Europe to train with George Wahl and David Pincus.
He moved to the U.S. almost a quarter-century ago, with barely enough money to afford a second-hand sport utility vehicle that he had to sleep in at horse shows.
His first international championship followed at Rome in 1998 when he became the first Israeli to qualify for the World Games. The WEG in Jerez, Spain, in 2002 was next, and then he qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics but the Israel Olympic Committee made it clear they would only authorize likely medal prospects.
But he made it to the WEG in Kentucky in 2010 while at the same time coaching the U.S. eventing team in dressage. Along the way, he has also coached riders in Britain as well as from South America, Africa and Australia in addition to Americans.
At the age of 52, Oded is established as a top trainer in Wellington with a newly completed state-of-the art equestrian center in which Megan’s sponsor, Deer Ridge Equestrian, has booked a block of six stalls for the 2015 winter circuit, as well as another Canadian.
David Marcus and his big string of horses and Australian Nicholas Fyffe will be based at nearby Stillpoint Farm where Oded will be coaching him next winter.
“I enjoy coaching,” Oded said, “both horses and riders. Having combinations as talented as David and Capital and Megan and Caravella at the WEG was fulfilling.
“I’m looking forward to making my best effort for the Pan Ams then to make sure that we do what’s necessary to field a team in Rio.”