Toronto, ON (Nov 13) – It was another jam-packed evening of competition at the Royal Winter Fair last night, bringing together some of the best in international equestrian competition from across the globe. The evening’s Royal Horse Show started with the $2500 Clydesdale/Shire Six Horse Hitch Presented by Peel Mutual Ins, Glen Smith & Sharp’s Clydesdales. The hitches shined to perfection, and the audience got a look at some serious horsepower. Top honours went to the Carson Farms team for the second year in a row. The $1500 Single Hackney Pony Amateur Championship followed.
Audience members were then treated to a great Dressage demonstration, lead by Ashley Holzer and featuring some of Canada’s great up and coming youth Dressage riders, including Tanya Strasser. Ashley and the riders lead the audience through some of the different moves that would be showcased in the upcoming freestyle, and also showed just how much impact the right music can have on a freestyle performance. Following the demonstration, the evening’s showed kicked off with the first of two Grand Prix competitions.
The $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage Cup featured some of the countries top Grand Prix Dressage Riders. Featured competitors were Jacqueline Brooks aboard D Niro, Karen Pavicic aboard Don Daiquiri, Jill Irving aboard seasoned Dressage mount Pop Art, and Britney Fraser aboard Countess. A
Top honours in the class were taken by Jacqueline Brooks, with an impressive score of 73.750%, followed close behind by Karen Pavicic with a score of 73.167%. Jill Irving came third with a solid score of 70.458%, and with Britney Fraser finishing with a score of 69.625%. Karen’s consistent performance over both Dressage competitions at the Fair (the freestyle and Wednesday’s Grand Prix test), earned her the overall title for the competition, and the Neckermanann Pracht Trophy.
Next up was the $34,000 MNP Top Score Challenge for International Jumpers, otherwise known as the Gambler’s Choice, with a field of 13 top international riders vying for the top prize. The field was set with a range of fences, each with a point number attached. Riders had 50 seconds to score as many points as possible by clearing fences, with the only conditions that once a rail was knocked down it was out of the round, and that a rider could only jump each fence a total of 2 times. After their 50 seconds, riders were given the opportunity to gamble it all and take the Joker fence for 200 points, a narrow 1.6 m vertical. If they were successful, 200 points were added to their score, if not – 200 points were deducted.
It was an exciting competition to be sure, eagerly anticipating each riders course, never knowing where they planned to go next. Many riders pulled some bold moves in an attempt to swiftly accumulate points, making tight turns, twists, and rollbacks to reach the highest point fences in a minimal amount of time. Most riders took the chance at the Joker and bet it all, a chance that paid off well for many.
Top prize went to Francois Mathay aboard Ornellaia, with a final score of 1340 and a time of 64.20. Conor Swail aboard Arista placed second with a score of 1270, and Darragh Kenny (aboard Prof De La Roque) came third with 1230. Canada’s Erynn Ballard, Jill Henselwood, and Elissa Reisman placed 9, 10, & 12, respectively.
You can find some of our photos from the evening’s competitions on our Facebook page, and will be back at the Royal (and live tweeting) November 14 for the Weston Canadian Open.
All photos contained herein are © The Eloquent Equine and are not to be reproduced without express written permission.