Toronto, Ontario – Jacqueline Brooks claimed the inaugural Canadian National Dressage Freestyle Championship on Thursday, November 8, at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON., which offered the $10,000 Canadian National Dressage Freestyle Championship. The World Cup has now merged the United States, Canada, and Mexico to create a North American League which will only be able to send two representatives.The FEI has extended its qualifying season to the end of February, rather than November, and so the Royal would have been a midseason event, requiring the show to accept every entry. This does not fit into their schedule, so now the top two Canadian Candidtates, Jaquline Brooks and Cindy Ishoy will need to consider travel to the United States for additional competitions.
Held over two nights, Wednesday and Thursday, Canada's top dressage athletes performed two Grand Prix Freestyles featuring required movements choreographed to the music of their choice. Having won on Wednesday evening with a score of 69.25%, Jacqueline Brooks of Mount Albert, ON, returned to the Ricoh Coliseum on Thursday night to mesmerize the crowd with a rousing performance set to music from the major motion picture, Alexander. Riding Gran Gesto, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Brinc Ltd. and Anne Welch, Brooks danced to the music and ultimately to victory, earning a score of 69.997% from the panel of international judges.
"Gran Gesto was awesome. He was settled in the ring and was very rideable," said Brooks, a crowd favourite who has competed at the Royal Horse Show on multiple occasions. "The freestyle is the future of our sport, and having this event at the Royal could be the jump-start the riders need to develop better freestyles and attract the crowds."
Placing second was Cindy Ishoy of Binbrook, ON, riding Proton, her 13-year-old German-bred gelding. Ishoy, who is well-known in dressage circles for her partnership with the legendary Dynasty which produced an Olympic Bronze Medal, choose to perform two different Freestyles on the two nights of competition. On Wednesday, her score was 66.917% while Thursday's performance resulted in a score of 66.167%.
"I am really happy to have this event at The Royal," noted Ishoy who, on opening weekend of the Royal Horse Show, had performed a pas de deux with her husband, Neil, to live music from Canadian recording artist Alannah Myles. "The Royal is the closest venue we have to the European venues, and I am very grateful. I love the sport, and think we need to do everything we can to promote it."
Neil Ishoy rode a demonstration Freestyle with his eight-year-old horse, Lone Star, while Gillian Sutherland of Uxbridge, ON, did the same with the veteran campaigner, Justin Tyme.