Local Competitor Amy McIlwham Claims Championship Title at Ottawa Spring Dressage Classic

Ottawa, Ontario – The rain continued to fall, but Amy McIlwham's spirits soared as she claimed the FEI Young Rider Championship title at the Ottawa Spring Dressage Classic held May 18-21 at the Nepean National Equestrian Park in Ottawa, ON.

An Ottawa native, McIlwham won Friday's FEI Young Rider Team test with a score of 65.481% and returned to the ring on Saturday to earn a score of 62.333%, placing second to Kristin Davis and Loyal who scored 63.75%. The results gave McIlwham the overall FEI Young Rider Championship title, with Davis being named the Reserve Champion.

Currently in her fourth season partnered with Marzipan, a nine-year-old Hannoverian gelding owned by Susan and Michael Nash, McIlwham explained that, "We didn’t do as well on Saturday as we could have because he was slipping a bit in the muddy footing, but overall, he was excellent. He is concentrating more this year and is really stepping up to give me his 'A' game."

The pair is hoping to qualify for their second consecutive North American Young Riders' Championships, open to competitors aged 16-21, which will be held in August in Lexington, Virginia. McIlwham has already earned four of the five required qualifying scores in the hopes of making the Ontario Team. A student at Carleton University, McIlwham trains at Oxford Ridge Stables, located south of Ottawa, with Ruth Koch.

Koch also coaches Erin Josey, a native of Dartmouth, NS, who captured the Reserve Grand Prix Championship title. It was the 22-year-old competitor's first time showing at the Grand Prix level, which is the same level of difficulty that the Olympic Games are contested at. Although the Grand Prix field narrowed to just two starters, they were evenly matched with both Josey and Karin Davis, representing Australia, earning scores of 59.167% in Saturday's Grand Prix. While Davis took ultimately earned the Grand Prix Championship title riding the evergreen Mighty Heights, Josey was thrilled to be second riding Handsome Iz, a 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Koch.

Competition was stiff in the Advanced division with 22 competitors starting in Friday's Prix St. Georges. Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON, emerged victorious with a score of 66.167% riding Wiona, a nine-year-old Hannoverian mare owned by Doug and Louise Leatherdale. Gillian Sutherland of Unionville, ON, took second riding Great Tyme, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Granulit. In the Intermediaire I, it was Sutherland who came out on top, earning a score of 67.833%. When the results were tabulated, Sutherland was crowned the Advanced Champion while Creech was named the Reserve Champion.

Sutherland also topped Sunday's Intermediaire Freestyle, a crowd favourite where riders choreograph required movements to the music of their choice. While the weather conditions had whittled the starting field down to just four starters, Sutherland still earned an impressive score of 69.267%. Second place went to Andrea Bresee of Brockville, ON, riding Raffles with a score of 66.383%.

Despite the lack of cooperation from Mother Nature, competition organizer Cara Whitham, President of Equivents Inc., was pleased with the competition, saying, "It was a hugely successful show. We were filled to capacity, and the competitors have been upbeat and positive despite having to cope with the weather. The footing in ring one was recently redone and it has been amazing, especially considering that we've had ten straight days of rain. All of the competitors are planning to come back in June, and we look forward to welcoming them."

Equivents Inc. presents the CDI3* Ottawa Summer Classic from June 22-25 which will also play host to the Canadian Dressage Team Selection Trials for the 2006 World Equestrian Games to held in August in Aachen, ermany. From August 24-27, the CDI3* Ottawa Fall Classic will host the Dressage Canada National Championships for the Junior, Young Rider, Pony Rider and Child divisions.

Ottawa Spring Dressage Classic - Ottawa, ON

Prix St. Georges - Final Results

  • 1. Diane Creech - Castor Centre, ON - Wiona - 66.167%
  • 2. Gillian Sutherland - Unionville, ON - Great Tyme - 65.50%
  • 3. Andrea Bresee - Brockville, ON - Raffles - 64.00%
  • 4. Evi Strasser - St-Adele, QC - Foto Tyme - 62.75%
  • 5. Jaimey Irwin - Lakefield, ON - Primo Sony - 62.417%

Intermediaire I - Final Results

  • 1. Gillian Sutherland - Unionville, ON - Great Tyme - 67.833%
  • 2. Andrea Bresee - Brockville, ON - Raffles - 65.083%
  • 3. Evi Strasser - St-Adele, QC - Foto Tyme - 64.33%
  • 4. Lee Tubman - Pefferlaw, ON - Marquis - 64.167%
  • 5. Diane Creech - Castor Centre, ON - Wiona - 64.083%

Photo Credit – Robert Alford