Elizabeth Gingras and Kilimanjaro Climb to Top in Talent Squad

Ottawa, Ontario – Elizabeth Gingras and Kilimanjaro climbed to the top of the Talent Squad competition held Thursday, August 18, at the National Capital Show Jumping Tournaments at the Nepean National Equestrian Park in Ottawa, ON.  Gingras of Edmonton, AB, and Kilimanjaro were one of three horse-rider combinations to jump clear over the challenging track set by two-time Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela.  First back in the jump-off, Gingras and Kilimanjaro, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, again jumped clear in a time of 49.97 seconds to put pressure on the two riders that followed.

Margie Gayford of Sharon, ON, was the next rider on the grand prix field with Calando Z, an 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Paddy Ann Burns.  The pair had the last fence down on course, stopping the clock in 50.19 seconds to eventually finish third.

Sarah Johnstone of Aurora, ON, was the final competitor in the jump-off.  She and Leonidas have been hot favourites at this year’s National Capital Show Jumping Tournaments, winning the $10,000 Modified Grand Prix on Saturday, August 13, and the $25,000 Hayes Co. Grand Prix on Sunday, August 14.  Johnstone guided Leonidas, a 14-year-old Hannoverian gelding owned by Trish Crang, through the course in 49.93 seconds, the fastest time of the day.  However, another win was not in the cards as the pair had the first fence down to finish second while Gingras scored the victory with Kilimanjaro.

“He was amazing, absolutely amazing,” said Gingras of the horse owned by Kathryn Lefebvre of Stittsville, ON.  “He jumped his heart out in both rounds.  He always tries his hardest, and today it really paid off.”  
Gingras has only been riding Kilimanjaro for a few short months.  “He’s for sale and his owner needed someone to get him into the ring,” explained Gingras.  “I get along really well with the horse and I’m always game to ride anything, especially if it helps me improve my own riding.”

The 29-year-old has been training with 2008 Olympic team silver medalist Jill Henselwood for the past two years.  Despite living in Edmonton where she works as a riding instructor, Gingras keeps her own horses at Henselwood’s Juniper Farms in Oxford Mills, ON.  “It’s certainly a very long commute,” laughed Gingras, who meets her coach at competitions.  “I love Jill so much and I really respect her.  Her own results speak for themselves and I am very grateful to have such a wonderful person on my side.  It makes me want to hop on a plane and fly out here more often.”

Gingras won’t be competing during the rest of the National Capital Tournaments.  In fact, she won’t even be in the province.  “I fly back to Alberta on Friday,” she explained.  “I competed here last week, then flew back to Alberta for Monday and Tuesday and was back here to compete today.  I would have loved to stay for the rest of the week after this win, but I have students competing at a show in Calgary and I really need to be there.  Not to mention that it will be great to see my husband!”

The newlywed tied the knot in May and has spent less than a week with her new husband since then.  “He knew I was horse crazy when he met me,” she said.  “He knows it’s my passion and that I would be very depressed if I wasn’t riding so he told me right from the start ‘go for it, I’ll support you.’  I have been very lucky to have the kind of support I do, both from him and from my parents.”

Other winners on Thursday included Francois Lamontagne of St. Eustache, QC, who won the 1.35m competition riding Unik Circa while Jeff Brandmaier won the Seven and Eight-Year-Old Young Horse competition aboard Damiro van ter Notelaere, a Belgian-bred gelding owned by Knightwood Stables of Guelph, ON.

The National Capital Show Jumping Tournaments is in its second and final week at the Nepean National Equestrian Park.  Running August 17 to 21, the second week of competition sees two-time Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela setting the tracks in the grand prix field.  Competition highlights include the $10,000 Ottawa Rental & Supply Ltd. Open Welcome on Friday, August 19, and the thrilling $10,000 ATCO Jumping Derby on Saturday, August 20.  The grand finale is Sunday’s $75,000 CSI** Brookstreet Grand Prix, sanctioned by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Approximately 500 horses will compete over the two weeks of competition at the Nepean National Equestrian Park, conveniently located at the 417 Queensway and Moodie Drive.

For more information on the National Capital Show Jumping Tournament, please visit www.hayesco.ca.

Photo: Elizabeth Gingras of Edmonton, AB, riding Kilimanjaro topped the Talent Squad competition held Thursday, August 18, at the National Capital Show Jumping Tournaments in Ottawa, ON. Photo Credit – RedRibbonPhotography.com