It was a battle of Canadian Olympians on Saturday at the CDI3* Toronto Dressage Classic running August 4-7 at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy in Cedar Valley, ON, just north of Toronto.
While Evi Strasser and Toronto native Ashley Holzer both had strong performances, the five-member panel of international judges decided in Strasser�s favour, awarding her a score of 69.375% over Holzer�s score of 69.333%. Strasser of Ste-Adele, QC, was riding Quantum Tyme, her 10-year-old chestnut Oldenburg gelding, with whom she recently competed at the 2005 World Cup Final.
�He is really getting the hang of all the Grand Prix movements and everything just feels easy for him now, it is effortless and elastic,� noted Strasser who represented Canada at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. �Ashley and I really pushed each other, and I really had to be on the money to win. The weather was fantastic, the organization is super and it was a really exciting competition.�
Holzer, a 1988 Olympic Team Bronze Medalist, was competing with Gambol at the Grand Prix level for the first time in internationally sanctioned competition. The pair helped Canada win the Silver Medal at the 2003 Pan American Games, and Holzer has a bright future ahead with the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Dr. Diane Fellows. Holzer had enjoyed victory earlier in the day after earning a score of 72.050% in the Intermediaire I riding Pop Art, her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
Jacqueline Brooks, who rode on the 2003 Pan Am Silver Medal Team alongside Strasser and Holzer, placed third with Gran Getso, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Anne Welch and Brinc Ltd. Brooks, who lives in Mount Albert, ON, and trains at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy, felt right at home in the Grand Prix ring where she earned a score of 68.542%.
Jon Costin of Puslinch, ON, took fourth place with a score of 66.500% riding Wholio, his nine-year-old Hannoverian gelding. Finishing in fifth position among the nine-horse starting field was Stouffville�s Belinda Trussell who earned a score of 65.708% riding her 2004 Athens Olympic Games partner, Royan II, a 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding.
�We saw the sport at its best in the Grand Prix, Evi and Ashley really gave it their all and helped make it a very exciting competition,� noted competition organizer, Cara Whitham, who became the first North American to judge at the European Championships, held last weekend in Germany, before flying back to Canada to host her own International Equestrian Federation (FEI) competition.
Brooks Begins With a Win at CDI Toronto Dressage Classic
When the National Competition opened on Thursday, it was a familiar name, Jacqueline Brooks, who claimed victory in the Grand Prix. Brooks, who hails from nearby Mount Albert, ON, was riding a newcomer to the Grand Prix ranks, Cipriano, but Brooks� experience shined through, garnering the pair a score of 64.792%. Brooks was a member of the Silver Medal Team at the 2003 Pan American Games riding Gran Gesto and this year has her sights set on winning a coveted spot at the Canadian League World Cup Final to be held in November at the Royal Horse Show.
Also hailing from Mount Albert was second-place finisher, Jessica Costello. Riding Litmanen, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Judy Elliott, Costello earned a score of 63.125% from the panel of five judges.
Another local rider, Belinda Trussell, whose Stouffville farm, Oakcrest, is just down the road from the Royal Canadian Riding Academy, took third place with a score of 63.125% riding her new acquisition, Blue Hors Testarosa. Owned by Trussell�s husband, Mark, Blue Horse Testarosa is an 11-year-old dark bay Danish Warmblood gelding. An Olympic, World Championship and European Championship veteran, Trussell, 33, celebrated the arrival of her first child just over two months ago and has made a speedy return to the saddle.
While female athletes captured all three top placings in the Grand Prix, the men ruled in the Prix St. Georges division. Canadian Olympian Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, took top honours for his performance aboard the nine-year-old Hannoverian gelding, Fortissimo, which was rewarded with a score of 69.00% from the judges.
Gary Vander Ploeg of King City, ON, placed second riding Cezanne after earning a score of 67.375%. A veteran member of the Canadian Dressage Team, Vander Ploeg represented his country at the 1990 World Championships and at the 1996 World Cup Final, both held in Sweden.
John MacPherson of Georgetown, ON, placed third riding Laurentino after earning a score of 65.875%. MacPherson was a member of the Silver Medal Team at the 2002 Sydney Dressage Derby held in Australia.
Ashley Holzer Designs Victory at CDI Toronto Dressage Classic
Canadian Olympic Bronze Medalist Ashley Holzer rode Pop Art to victory in the Prix St. Georges on Friday at the CDI3* Toronto Classic running August 4-7 at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy in Cedar Valley, ON, just north of Toronto.
A large field of 18 competitors competed in the Prix St. Georges, which is one level of difficulty below the Olympic level of Grand Prix. A Toronto native, Holzer earned the winning score of 72.60% from the panel of five international judges, giving Holzer her first victory of the year on Canadian soil. Holzer spends the winter season competing in Florida, where she and Pop Art, her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, enjoyed numerous wins.
Another Canadian Olympian, Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, settled for second with a score of 69.15% riding Beaumarchais, Susan Holden�s 10-year-old dark bay Hannoverian gelding. Andrea Bresee who hails from Brockville, ON, where she trains at Franklands Farm, took third place. Riding Raffles, an 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare, Bresee earned a score of 67.50%.
Gillian Sutherland of Unionville, ON, rode the athletic 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Great Tyme, to fourth place for owner and long-time sponsor, Karen Soupcoff, by earning a score of 66.65%. Great Tyme was purchased last spring from yet another Canadian Olympian, Evi Strasser, who operates Good Tyme Stables in Ste-Adele, QC, and will be competing in Saturday�s Grand Prix at the Toronto Dressage Classic.
Rounding out the top five was Cheryl Meisner of Blandford, NS. At 23 years of age, Meisner, who rides for Nova Scotia�s Lobster Point Farms, was the youngest athlete competing in the Prix St. Georges division. Her horse, Paganini, is an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion by Havidoff that was purchased last October from well-known Dutch trainer, Bert Rutten.
In other competition, Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON, won the Intermediaire II with a score of 67.512%. Trussell, 33, who lives just down the road from the Royal Canadian Riding Academy, was riding Royan II, her 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding, with whom she represented Canada at the 2002 World Championships, 2003 Open European Championships and last year�s Athens Olympic Games.
With two competitions running concurrently, a national show sanctioned by Equine Canada and the United States Equestrian Federation and an international show sanctioned by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), over 200 athletes are contesting the Toronto Dressage Classic. Organized by Cara Whitham�s Equivents, Inc., the CDI3* Toronto Dressage Classic has welcomed competitors from across Canada, including British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia, as well as numerous American athletes. For more information, including results, please visit www.equivents.com.
CDI3* Toronto Dressage Classic � CDI3* Prix St. Georges Results
1. Ashley Holzer Toronto, ON Pop Art 72.60%
2. Tom Dvorak Hillsburgh, ON Beaumarchais 69.15%
3. Andrea Bresee Brockville, ON Raffles 67.50%
4. Gillian Sutherland Unionville, ON Great Tyme 66.65%
5. Cheryl Meisner Halifax, NS Paganini 66.15%
Evi Strasser Sweeps Grand Prix Freestyle at CDI Toronto Dressage Classic
Evi Strasser won the Grand Prix Freestyle on the final day of equestrian competition at the CDI3* Toronto Dressage Classic held August 4-7 at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy in Cedar Valley, ON, just north of Toronto.
Strasser of St-Adele, QC, topped the seven-horse field with an impressive average score of 74.470% from the five-member panel of international judges. In fact, Stephen Clarke of Great Britain who was acting as the President of the Ground Jury rewarded Strasser with an incredibly high score of 80% for her Grand Prix Freestyle performance.
�Quantum Tyme was really �on�, and he coped very well with the music and surroundings,� said Strasser, a 1996 Canadian Olympian, of her 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quattro. �There can be noise and clapping but he is so secure in his work that it does not bother him. And I love riding to my freestyle music, it is exciting every time I perform to it. It is an extraordinary partnership that Quantum Tyme and I have together.�
Strasser choreographed the required Grand Prix movements to epic music with a strong drum rhythm, including pieces from the soundtrack of Disney�s �The Lion King�. Strasser first purchased Quantum Tyme as a three-year-old, training him herself to the Olympic-level of Grand Prix.
Her 2003 Pan American Games Silver Medal teammate, Jacqueline Brooks of Mount Albert, ON, finished a close second with a score of 73.220%. Brooks, who was riding Gran Gesto, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Anne Welch and Brinc Ltd., performed to contemporary Spanish guitar.
Shannon Dueck, a native of British Columbia who now resides in Wellington, FL, took third place in the Grand Prix Freestyle riding Korona, her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. The pair, who earned the Individual Silver Medal at the 1999 Pan American Games and were also Canada�s top finishers at the 2002 World Championships in Spain, earned a score of 70.880% to stay just ahead of Jon Costin who posted 70.670%. Costin, who resides in Puslinch, ON, was riding his nine-year-old Hannoverian gelding, Wholio.
Toronto native Ashley Holzer, who had placed second in Saturday�s Grand Prix test, settled for fifth in the Freestyle when her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, Gambol, owned by Dr. Diane Fellows, lost his concentration. The 1988 Olympic Team Bronze Medalist earned a score of 65.270% for her performance.
While she may not have won the Grand Prix Freestyle, Holzer scored a triple victory in the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle riding Pop Art. In Sunday�s Freestyle competition, Holzer and her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding earned an impressive score of 74.810%.
Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, took second place with a score of 74.080% riding Beaumarchais, a 10-year-old dark bay Hannoverian gelding owned by Susan Holden, while Andrea Bresee of Brockville, ON, placed third after earning a score of 70.840% riding Raffles, an 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare.
All Photos copyrighted: Cealy Tetley
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