Washington International Horse Show Announces Riders for $25,000 Invitational Dressage Championship

The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is pleased to announce the four riders that have accepted the invitation to compete in the $25,000 WIHS Invitational Dressage Championship, which will be held on two evenings, October 26-27, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The “returning champion” Ashley Holzer of New York, New York, aboard Pop Art will defend her title. against Courtney King of New Milford, Connecticut, riding Idocus; Suzanne Dansby-Phelps of Atlanta, Georgia, with Cooper; and George Williams of Delaware, Ohio, on Marnix.

To determine the champion, the four contestants will ride the Invitational Grand Prix on Thursday evening, October 26, and then the Invitational Grand Prix Musical Freestyle on Friday evening, October 27, under FEI (international) rules. Each test will constitute 50% of the overall combined score. Officiating will be Judge Gary Rockwell (“I”) of Wellington, Florida. The riders will each be awarded a percentage of the $25,000 prize money, with the winner receiving $10,000; second place, $7,500; third place, $5,000; and fourth place $2,500. The show organizers have graciously waived entry fees and there are no stabling costs for the horses.

“The WIHS Dressage Invitational promises to be one of the top dressage competitions in the U.S.,” said WIHS Executive Director Susie Webb. “Top riders, top horses all competing for top prizes!"


Bio-Snaps of the 2006 WIHS Dressage Invitational Championship Competitors

Ashley Holzer, 43, a native of Toronto, will ride her newest Grand Prix star, Pop Art, a nine-year-old Dutch gelding owned by Holzer and her father, Ian Nicoll. Holzer most recently represented Canada at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, aboard Gambol.

She has also competed for her country at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic (Team Silver); the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain; the 1991 Pan American Games in Cuba (Team Gold and Individual Silver); the 1989 World Cup Finals in Sweden; and the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games (Team Bronze).


Bio-Snaps of the 2006 WIHS Dressage Invitational Championship Competitors

Courtney King, 28, and Idocus, a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Christine McCarthy, come to Washington right off one of the most prestigious wins in U.S. dressage – the pair won the Grand Prix at the historic Dressage at Devon in Pennsylvania in October.

King was named to the USET Olympic Long List in 2000 and the USEF High Performance Developing Riders List in 2004. King and Idocus competed at the 2001 Zwolle International Stallion Show in Germany, earning third. King was on the USEF Short List for the 2006 FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Dressage in Verden, Germany.


Bio-Snaps of the 2006 WIHS Dressage Invitational Championship Competitors

Suzanne Dansby-Phelps and Cooper, her 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding, most recently achieved international recognition when they successfully competed in the 2006 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Grand Prix Championship/World Equestrian Games Selection Trials at Gladstone and were ultimately named as an alternate pair to the U.S. Dressage Team for the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

Dansby-Phelps was long-listed for the 2003 Pan American Games, and has been on the USEF High Performance Long List for three years.


Bio-Snaps of the 2006 WIHS Dressage Invitational Championship Competitors

George Williams, 51, and Marnix, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Charles and Joann Smith, recently earned success with a third place finish in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Dressage at Devon.

Williams and Marnix were among the top 12 riders in the nation who competed in June at Gladstone in the 2006 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Grand Prix Championship/World Equestrian Games Selection Trials. Williams achieved international success with the mare Rocher, representing the U.S. at the 2003 World Cup in Goteborg, Sweden, and other European competitions, earning a World Ranking of 16.


“The WIHS Dressage Invitational promises to be one of the top dressage competitions in the U.S.,” said WIHS Executive Director Susie Webb. “Top riders, top horses all competing for top prizes!"

Invitations to the $25,000 WIHS Invitational Dressage Championship were extended to the riders by the show organizers, based on the recommendations of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Gil Merrick, USEF Managing Director, Dressage Sport Programs, headed up the selection process. “Our High Performance Dressage Committee’s recommendations were based primarily on the recently updated USEF Long Lists and riders’ current rankings,” Merrick explained. “We developed a selection criterion and convened selectors.” The USEF Long Lists are ranked listings of riders who compete in USEF High Performance qualifiers.

Previously the site of the prestigious U.S. League Finals, the WIHS has a history of hosting topnotch dressage events. In 2002, dressage returned to Washington with a spectacular evening exhibition performed by George Williams aboard Rocher, and Jackie Paxton with Sangmelina. The dressage exhibition was so well received by the audience that in 2005, WIHS introduced the inaugural WIHS Dressage Invitational with three horse-and-rider combinations vying for a $10,000 purse. The competitors were Holzer riding Gambol, Heather Blitz aboard Arabella, and Cathy Morelli with BeSe. Holzer won both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle, with Judge Linda Zang officiating. The audience reception was extraordinary, prompting the show to increase the prize money this year to $25,000 and host four riders.

“This year there’s a lot of interest on the part of the riders in participating in the Washington Invitational,” reported Merrick. “We’re looking forward to it growing over the years. Some riders have expressed an interest in developing a true indoor fall dressage circuit to give us an opportunity to get ready for international competitions such as the World Cup Final. The Washington Invitational would be a great launch pad for this.”

Visit HorsesDaily.com For More Information of the Washington International

 




GET THE LATEST NEWS DELIVERED TO YOUR MAILBOX