West Palm Beach, Florida – Beautiful Florida weather greeted competitors on the opening day of the Gold Coast Opener CDI-WY and in CDI competition, Ashley Holzer took the win in Grand Prix with her partner Pop Art. In Prix St. Georges CDI competition, the winner of that large class was Shawna Harding and Come On III with a score of 69.05 percent.
Holzer, who riders for Canada, edged out Courtney King, who finished both second and third in CDI Grand Prix competition. Holzer and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Pop Art scored a 72.042 percent. King took second with Harmony’s Mythilus and a score of 71.125 percent and third with Idocus and a score of 70.750 percent. Coming in fourth was Lars Petersen and Succes with 69.917 percent.
Opening day was, Holzer said, “a great day. I can’t complain. I’m thrilled.” But she was thrilled not only for herself, but also for her students, many of whom also had good showings. Among them was fellow Canadian rider Jacqueline Brooks who finished sixth in the Grand Prix CDI with Gran Gesto. The pair’s score of 67.750 gained them a qualifying score for this year’s Olympic Games in Hong Kong. Holzer herself has already opted out of this year’s Olympics saying that the criteria established for the Canadian Olympic Dressage Team would place too much stress on Pop Art.
Canada has stated that riders who make the team must spend two months competing in Europe before going in to quarantine and then on to Hong Kong. Holzer has said that two months competing in Europe prior to Hong Kong would be too difficult on Pop Art. She would prefer to go to Hong Kong directly from North America. However, she feels that Brooks’ horse could handle the added European trip and is thus pushing Brooks to go for the Olympics. “Jackie Brooks deserves to go to the Olympics and her horse is older and stronger. She got one of her qualifying scores today so that’s great,” Holzer said.
The possibility that she may not be headed for the Olympics, hasn’t diminished Holzer’s joy in taking the Grand Prix CDI win at the Gold Coast Opener. “I’m just happy to have a horse that’s performing as well as he’s performing. He’s got a long future ahead of him. I’m thrilled, I’m just thrilled. The whole test was just spot on. He made it so easy,” Holzer said.
She couldn’t say enough good things about the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center where the Gold Coast Opener is being held. “This facility is stunning here. I love it. It’s beautiful, the footing is good. The stabling is nice. Everything is great.”
Pop Art will compete in Saturday’s Grand Prix Special. Holzer said it’ll be the first time the gelding has competed in a Grand Prix two days in a row. “I put him in because I want to see how he does with two in a row. I want to see where his fitness is right now.”
I’ve traditionally done just one class with a break in between.”