Quebec’s own Evi Strasser claimed her first Grand Prix Freestyle victory at the Casino de Montreal Freestyle Extravaganza held as part of the CDI***-W Blainville Dressage International on Saturday night in Blainville, QC.
Strasser, who hails from Ste-Adele located just 30 minutes north of Blainville, has been competing at the show since its inception seven years ago and claimed a long-awaited victory in the coveted Grand Prix Freestyle. Performing to music from Disney’s ‘The Lion King’, the Canadian Olympian pulled out all the stops to earn a score of 74.525% from the panel of five international judges riding Quantum Tyme.
“This is my favourite place to compete, so to finally win, and do it in style, was unbelievable!” enthused Strasser, who had the crowd on its feet as she took her victory gallop.
The Freestyle competition, similar to figure skating in that athletes choreograph required movements to the music of their choice, offered the sold-out crowd of almost 3,000 spectators an opportunity to witness Olympic-level sport at its best. Placing second was Strasser’s 2003 Pan American Games Silver Medal teammate, Jacqueline Brooks of Mount Albert, ON, who rode Gran Gesto to lively Spanish guitar music and earned a score of 72.675%.
Finishing third was another Ontario competitor, Jon Costin, who scored 68.975% with Wholio, while a recent graduate from the Young Rider ranks, Whitney Harris of Burlington, ON, was fourth with 64.625% riding Nektor.
No stranger to the winner’s circle at Blainville, Tom Dvorak successfully defended his title in the Intermediaire Freestyle, this time riding Beaumarchais, a 10-year-old Hannoverian gelding owned by Susan Holden. Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, earned a score of 74.475% to easily ride away with the victory.
Having a great time at Blainville were Gillian Sutherland and the Oldenburg gelding, Great Tyme, who finished second with a score of 71.350% while Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON, placed third with 68.700% riding Doug Leatherdale’s chestnut Hannoverian mare, Wiona.
Andrea Bresee of Brockville, ON, rode Raffles to a rock and roll medley to earn fourth position, while Tina Busse was able to claim fifth place over her future husband, Jaimey Irwin, who finished sixth with Nero. Both Busse and Irwin train in Lakefield, ON.
Each year, the Blainville Dressage Classic’s four days of international dressage competition culminates on Saturday evening with the wildly popular Casino de Montreal Freestyle Extravaganza. Spectators enjoying fine dining in the VIP tents or purchased a general admission ticket to be awed by the majesty of a sport where horse and rider seemingly dance to the music they have chosen for their Freestyle. Anyone who missed the excitement at Blainville can catch it all on television when it airs Friday, August 5, at 5 p.m. and on Saturday, August 14 at 1 p.m. (EST) on RDS.
Sanctioned by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the CDI***-W Blainville Dressage International took place from June 29 to July 2 at Blainville Equestrian Park located in the heart of Blainville, QC. Over 200 horses competed for $20,000 in prize money at this year’s international event, which is Canada’s longest running World Cup Qualifier. The competition organizers now prepare for the CSI-W Blainville Show Jumping International taking place from July 6-10.
CDI***-W Blainville – FEI Grand Prix Freestyle Results
Athlete Hometown Horse Score
1. Evi Strasser Ste-Adele, QC Quantum Tyme 74.525%
2. Jacqueline Brooks Mount Albert, ON Gran Gesto 72.675%
3. Jon Costin Puslinch, ON Wholio 68.975%
4. Whitney Harris Burlington, ON Nektor 64.625%
CDI***-W Blainville – FEI Intermediaire Freestyle Results
Athlete Hometown Horse Score
1. Tom Dvorak Hillsburgh, ON Beaumarchais 74.475%
2. Gillian Sutherland Unionville, ON Great Tyme 71.350%
3. Diane Creech Caistor Centre, ON Wiona 68.700%
4. Andrea Bresee Brockville, ON Raffles 68.325%
5. Tina Busse Lakefield, ON Amicelli 68.300%
6. Jaimey Irwin Lakefield, ON Nero 67.575%
Photo credit – Cealy Tetley