The Canadian Olympic Dressage Team will be decided June 30 to July 3 as the CDI***-W Blainville Dressage International in Blainville , QC , prepares to host the second and final Olympic Selection Trial.
It all comes down to one final weekend at the Blainville Equestrian Park for the Athens hopefuls. At the first Selection Trial held June 18-20 at York Equestrian Centre in Cedar Valley , ON , Cindy Ishoy emerged the winner. A veteran rider, Ishoy led Canada to the Team Bronze Medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, narrowly missing an individual medal when she placed fourth overall riding the great Dynasty. That same year, the pair finished a close second in the World Cup Final, marking the strongest performance ever by a Canadian athlete at the annual event.
At the age of 20, Ishoy made her Olympic debut at the 1972 Munich Games before competing at the 1980 Alternate Olympics as well as the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. This year, Ishoy's hopes of being named to her fifth Canadian Olympic Team are coming to fruition.
“I feel really good, I feel very confident that everything is going forward and we are on track for Athens ,” notes Ishoy, 52, who operates Ishoy Enterprises in Jerseyville , ON , with her husband and fellow dressage competitor, Neil Ishoy. “My horse is doing very well, he's been handling everything in stride. The Blainville Equestrian Park is a beautiful venue and I am really looking forward to competing there.”
Ishoy and Proton, her 10-year-old German-bred gelding, are no strangers to the winner's circle at Blainville. In 2003, they won the Grand Prix test, the same one that this year will be used to determine the Olympic Dressage Team. Ishoy will contest the Grand Prix on Friday, July 2, before performing her newly designed Freestyle program on Saturday evening as part of Blainville's signature ‘Casino de Montreal Musical Freestyle Extravaganza'. Designed by Shelly Brown and entitled ‘Criminal Intent' to reflect the music's theme, Ishoy's freestyle program contains ‘Fever' for the passage tour as well as music from the James Bond soundtrack.
Other strong contenders for a position on the 2004 Olympic Dressage Team include Ishoy's 1988 Olympic Bronze Medal teammate, Ashley Nicoll Holzer of Toronto, ON, and Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON, Canada's representative at the 2004 World Cup Final. Quebec 's own Evi Strasser, who makes her home in Ste-Adele, is also favoured. Strasser represented Canada at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and was recently a member of the Silver Medal team at the 2003 Pan American Games riding Quantum Tyme, her Olympic contender.
Leslie Reid of Langley , BC , has been given a bye based on her exceptional qualifying scores earned earlier this year and will be in Blainville , QC , for the formal presentation of the Canadian Olympic Dressage Team.
In addition to the excitement of the Olympic Selection Trials, the CDI***-W Blainville Dressage International, which is a World Cup Qualifying event, will see over 200 horses competing at various levels. Tickets and VIP tables for the wildly popular ‘Casino de Montreal Musical Freestyle Extravaganza', held Saturday evening, July 3, sold out well in advance.
Judging in Blainville are: Linda Zang (O USA), Hanne Valentin (O Denmark), Angelika Fromming (I Germany), Lorraine MacDonald (I Canada), and Lisette Purcell (I Dominican Republic).
Located just north of Montreal , Blainville Equestrian Park features a variety of attractions that ensure family members enjoy their visit. For more information, please contact Blainville International at tel: (450) 434-8202, fax: (450) 434-8209, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Photo by Kathryn Eututis