Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti forced to withdraw from Olympics

Jessica Phoenix has withdrawn from Olympic eventing after her horse, Pavarotti, suffered a minor injury in training.

The Wilfrid resident made the announcement Wednesday (July 28) evening in a social media post.

“Today we have made the heartbreaking decision to withdraw Pavarotti from the Tokyo Olympics due to a minor injury sustained on our last gallop. While I am devastated that Rotti will not get to compete and show his talent on the world stage, I am thankful that he will be back to his usual self soon,” the statement reads.

“I am blessed that our Canadian riders are a tight group of supportive teammates who rally around each other in our times of need. Thank you everyone for your support during this challenging time and we look forward to cheering on Colleen Loach and her incredible horse Qorry Blue d’Argouges.”

Phoenix and Loach were the only two Canadians scheduled to compete in eventing at these Olympics.

In a media release, Equine Canada wished Pavarotti a speedy recovery and highlighted his many accomplishments with Phoenix — including five medals at the Pan Am Games.

“We were so excited to see Pavarotti finally take on Olympic competition but horse health and safety remains priority number one,” said Eventing Chef d’Équipe, Fleur Tipton.

“We are thankful that Pavarotti’s injury is minor and eternally grateful to his care team for ensuring his comfort and ability to fully recover. Jessica and Pavarotti are a team for the ages and we fully support them both through this heartbreaking turn of events.”

In a recent interview, Phoenix described Pavarotti as a “fierce competitor” and the “horse of a lifetime.”

“We have been waiting and working towards this moment since 2016,” she added.

“I am honoured to be going to Toyko with Rotti, who is not only my trusted equine partner, but a member of my family and Canada’s eventing family.”

She also thanked the countless area residents that have supported them over the years.

“I’d like to send a massive thank you to everyone for their continued support in this exciting lead-up. Covid has made this one of the most interesting Olympic Game preparations to date,” she said.