Toronto, ON (CAN) – Thursday night was a grand affair in the Ricoh that brought the sparkle and shine with the Six Horse Hitch, Grand Prix Freestyle, and an exciting Pas de Deux demonstration. The best of the best went head to head in competition once again, and it was a night of elegant performance and sheer speed as the $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage Cup gave way to the $35,000 International Accumulator Challenge.
The evening’s festivities opened with a range of heavy horse and pony classes, here’s a snapshot of the results:
- $2500 Clydesdale / Shire Six Horse Hitch: Josh Minshull and the Express Clydesdales hitch
- $1500 Single Harness Pony Amateur Championship: Entry 450, Susanne Harrod and Royal Image
- $1500 Single Hackney Pony Amateur Championship: Entry 420, Greg Brunton and Mariachi
Next up was an energizing and synchronised Pas de Deux performance by Jamie and Tina Irwin performed to a range of popular and peppy pop music. The Irwin’s are Canadian Dressage riders who own and operate Stoney Lake Equestrian in Stouffville Ontario. Both established competitor with career highlights that include the representing Canada at the World Cup in Sweden in 2013 (Jamie Irwin) and the Pan American games in Mexico in 2011 (Tina Irwin).
Following the Irwin’s performance came the conclusion of the two round $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage cup, where 4 Canadian competitors went head to head with a range of technical freestyles to try to win the top honour. In the end Megan Lane aboard Caravella took the top spot with a score of 76.752% on top of her winning Grand Prix score of 71.633% from Wednesday’s arm of the competition. In addition to a highly technical performance, Lane wowed the crowd with her one-handed pirouettes. Megan Lane is a Canadian Olympic Dressage rider who has ridden at the Pan American Games, Olympics, and World Equestrian Games.
Coming in a close second was Brittany Fraser aboard All in with a score of 75.250%.
Following the immensely precise and technical Dressage invitation came the $35,000 International Accumulator Challenge, aka. the Gambler’s choice. This competition is a about speed, agility, and most of all points. The field consisted of 11 jumps total (including the Joker) and was designed by Bernardo Cabral (POR). Riders had 69 seconds to steer their horse over the most jumps to gain the most points, with the choice to finish your course by taking the dreaded Joker. This year’s Joker was a very tall skinny fence with widely spaced rails that would pop off at the slightest rub. If you made it, 20 points were added, if you hit dropped a rail, you lost those points. Hence the name – gambler’s choice.
Competition was intense, with a field of 16 top international riders pushing their horses over tall fences and through tight turns to get the most points in the least amount of time. There were cheers and gasps as riders cleared oxers and dropped rails. In the end it came down to fractions of a second as 5 riders scored the maximum 65 points. Jos Verlooy (BEL) held the lead momentarily with a score of 65 points and a time of 48.67 seconds, which seemed the score to beat until German rider David Will aboard Cento du Rouet took finished there rider with 65 points and an impressive time of 45.46 seconds – the quickest time of the night.
In the end that stellar speed and agility earned the pair the top honours and the title for the night.
Here’s how the top 5 break down:
- David Will and Cento du Rouet (GER)
- Shane Sweetnam and Cobalt (IRL)
- Jos Verlooy and Caruso 472 (BEL)
- Tiffany Foster and Chesney (CAN)
- Vanessa Mannix and Chemas (CAN)
Full results and horse show schedules are available from the Royal Winter Fair website (Royalfair.org).
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is an annual event where city meets country in the heart of downtown Toronto. Highlights of the fair include horse and agriculture shows, shopping and fine dining. More information about the Royal Winter Fair can be found by visiting their site.