Cincinnati, Ohio – Canadian rider Diane Creech and Devon L took the win in the opening day Prix St. Georges at the Paxton Farm CDI. And cheering her on along the sidelines were Devon L owners Doug and Louise Leatherdale.
"It was quite a special day. It made it even more special that Doug and Louise were able to be here with me,” Creech said. She and Devon L won the FEI CDI Prix St. Georges with score of 68.650. Second were Gillian Sutherland and Great Tyme with a score of 67.60. Third was Christopher Hickey riding Bugatti Hilltop with a score of 67.25.
The Leatherdales, owners of Leatherdale Farms in Long Lake, Minnesota, have been doing quite a bit of cheering these days. That’s because in addition to the horses they have in training with Creech, they own two Grand Prix horses in training with American rider Sue Blinks – Robin Hood and Mark, both Dutch Warmblood geldings. Doug is Canadian and Louise American, hence, they’re supporting both nations.
"Doug handles the Canadian side. He’s the one who signs the passports for the Canadian horses. I take care of the Americans,” Louise Leatherdale said. And thus, when it comes to talking about the couple’s leading Canadian horses – Devon L and Wiona – it’s Doug who does the talking. And it’s very clear he was thrilled with Devon L’s Prix St. Georges win.
"He’s quite a talented young horse. We were thrilled because this is his first show of the year.” When asked if he thought Devon L had a future Grand Prix career, Doug Leatherdale was quick to respond. “Absolutely. He is already schooling most of the Grand Prix moves and he’s only eight. He’s probably got another year or two on the small tour, but we definitely think he’s the next Grand Prix horse.”
The Leatherdales already have three horses competing at Grand Prix. In addition to the two with Blinks in California, of which Mark is currently ranked one of the top six horses in the running for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Dressage Team, the couple also has Grand Prix horse Wiona in training with Creech. And in Friday’s Grand Prix at the Paxton CDI, the pair finished third in a tight race at the top. Creech and Wiona had a score of 67.25. Only slightly ahead of them were George Williams and Rocher finishing first with a score of 67.542 and Michael Barisone and Neruda finished second with a score of 67.542.
It was a fabulous placing for Wiona, considering that the Paxton Farm CDI was her first competition at Grand Prix. And that score also qualified her to make a run for the 2008 Canadian Olympic Dressage Team.
"We weren’t planning for her to make the Canadian team, but now she is at least qualified. We are certainly very proud of her,” Doug Leatherdale said. Wiona does have international experience. She and Creech were members of the Silver Medal-winning Canadian team at the Pan American Games in Rio and Doug Leatherdale said it’s clear that both Wiona, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare by Weltmeyer, and Devon L, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding by De Niro, have the potential to be future Canadian dressage stars. He and his wife are very aware of their unique position as owners. The time may come when they will find their own horses facing off on opposing international teams – the U.S. and Canada.
"One day, we might have horses competing for both countries and we’re delighted with that. We have a good string of luck going right now and we think it’s kind of neat,” he said.