Courtney King and Idocus Win Grand Prix
Washington, D.C. – October 26, 2006 – Courtney King of New Milford, Connecticut, riding Idocus, a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Christine McCarthy, won the Grand Prix tonight at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS). The evening class, comprised of four contenders at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., is the first of two phases in the $25,000 WIHS Invitational Dressage Championship. Tomorrow night, the four competitors will return to contest the Grand Prix Musical Freestyle. Each class counts for 50% of the total score for the championship title, which will be awarded tomorrow night, with the winner receiving $10,000.
Officiating tonight were two international ("I") judges. Gary Rockwell of Wellington, Florida, judged at E and Peruvian Marian Cunningham of Middleburg, Virginia, presided at C. Rockwell awarded King and Idocus 68.750% and Cunningham marked the duo at 68.958% for the winning total score of 68.854%.
King was thrilled with her win. "It’s like waking up on Christmas morning and finding your present and then going back upstairs and finding another present!" King beamed.
King, 28, and Idocus last competed in an indoor arena five years ago at the Zwolle International Stallion Show in Germany. She was very pleased with her partner’s reaction to the close confines of the warm-up and the excitement of the atmosphere tonight, which included ladies sidesaddle, Western barrel racing, and terrier races. "He’s such a cool horse. He is so cool in the brain," King enthused. "He was looking around a little bit, but he’s just cool as a cucumber. He’ll get tighter in his body, which might affect a little bit of the quality of his gaits, but he’s really dependable. With him being a stallion and all these horses so close, he was so cool. He’s just a gem." In tonight’s performance, King said that she was most pleased with Idocus’s exuberant one-tempi changes.
Ashley Holzer and Pop Art Debut in the Grand Prix
Canada’s two-time Olympian Ashley Holzer of New York, New York, who won this class last year with her 2006 World Equestrian Games mount Gambol, debuted her new Grand Prix mount, Pop Art, and earned second place tonight. Rockwell awarded Holzer 66.875%, while Cunningham tallied the duo at 68.750% for a total of 67.813%. Pop Art is a nine-year-old Dutch gelding owned by Holzer and her father, Ian Nicoll. "This was the first time Pop Art has ever done the Grand Prix. He was a bit shocked," Holzer said. "He was scared of the setting, but he did so well for his first time. This horse is an incredible horse."
Suzanne Dansby-Phelps of Atlanta, Georgia, with her own Cooper took the third place ribbon. Judge Rockwell assessed the pair at 69.167%, the highest mark earned tonight, while Cunningham awarded 63.333%, for a total of 66.250%. Cooper is an 18.3-hand, 14-year-old chestnut Holsteiner gelding.
George Williams of Delaware, Ohio, rode Marnix to the fourth place slot. Judge Rockwell gave the duo 65.208% and Cunningham assessed the ride at 62.917%, giving Williams a total of 64.063%. Marnix is a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Charles and Joann Smith.
King said the class tonight was "fantastic" because of the caliber of her competitors. "I was so impressed with the quality of the horses and riders. I’ve never seen Cooper go in person – what an awesome horse and so well trained – and really nearly mistake-free tests," King noted, adding, "I always think Marnix is such an elastic and flamboyant horse. It was really fun to see the quality here and actually have the chance to watch it. And of course Ashley – she’s my hero. She can make anything work. For her horse’s first grand prix test, that was really exciting for me."
Laura Noyes and Syncro Get ready for FEI Young Riders World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany Riding a Demonstration of Their Musical Freestyle
As an added highlight, while the scores were tallied before the ribbon presentation in the dressage competition, Laura Noyes, 19, of Falmouth, Maine, rode a musical freestyle aboard her 12-year-old Trahkener gelding Syncro. Noyes and Syncro will represent the United States in December at the FEI Young Riders World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, and the opportunity to ride her freestyle indoors was great experience as well as entertainment for the crowd. Noyes is a student at Ohio Wesleyan University and trains with George Williams in Ohio.
Following the ribbon presentation, while King and Holzer fielded questions from the news media, Williams, Dansby-Phelps, and Noyes participated in an autograph session, which lasted 90 minutes as they accommodated the line-up of fans.
Tonight’s Grand Prix winner King summed up the evening by noting that she’d like to see more competitions like the $25,000 WIHS Invitational Dressage Championship. "Everybody benefits. It’s great experience for the rider. It’s great exposure for the sponsors," King explained. "It’s great education for the dressage world to be able to see, not a class of 15 horses, but a very small dose of strong good dressage. We could use more of it."