Toronto, Ontario – Waylon Roberts of Port Perry, Ontario, proved tonight he is no “one-hit-wonder”, taking the Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing Championship for an incredible fourth time in five years. The Championship was part of the opening weekend lineup at the 88th Royal Horse Show, and it’s exciting, energetic format is rapidly becoming a hit among a normally reserved horse show crowd.
A modified version of the formal, Olympic discipline of three-day eventing, the Royal’s version blends the thrill of galloping to solid cross-country jumps with the accuracy and fragility of show jumping, all set to rocking music. Roberts stood in fourth following last night’s initial round of competition and admittedly “had a lot of ground to make up,” ever mindful of the quality and speed of his fellow competitors.
“I didn’t think he would be that quick,” said Roberts, of the horse he has been riding for only a week. “I figured I had nothing to lose so I just pulled out all the stops – I knew Jessica would be fast on my heels!” he laughed, of Reserve Champion Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, Ontario.
The decisive moment in Roberts’ round was an incredible hairpin turn between fences nine and ten, an open stadium jump turning back to a massive ‘corner’ jump which caused issues for more than a few. Likewise for Phoenix, a planned inside turn, which did not materialize, cost valuable seconds and perhaps even the overall title.
“The plan was to be efficient, not worry about going fast, but to make good turns – I will be thinking about how I might have ridden that differently for a long time after tonight.” lamented Phoenix.
Tonight’s Horse Show was capped by the second and third rounds of the Canadian Show Jumping Championships presented by Greenhawk, in which recent Canadian citizen Yann Candele delivered faultless round after faultless round to earn top honours with his clever mare Pitareusa, owned by Susan Grange. They bested an exceptional field containing Olympians and past Canadian Champions including Ian Millar, Mac Cone, Beth Underhill and Jill Henselwood, taking the title for the first and what is undoubtedly not the last time.
“We had to try very hard this evening, we knew we had to jump clear.” explained Candele. “It’s a difficult Championship to win, as they all are, but in such company, we had to leave the jumps up. It certainly adds a little confidence going into next week.” he said, referring to the International division which begins on Tuesday.
Second place went to Amy Millar of Perth, Ontario, with the lanky grey mare Costa Rica Z, owned by Matthews & Millar Brooke Farm. While finishing second was probably not exactly what Millar was looking for, it was enough to earn her one of just two coveted berths in next week’s International division reserved for the top two Canadians following the Championships who had not already been named to the list.
This means “Team Millar” will bring a full contingent to the Ricoh Coliseum for International week, as dad Ian and brother Jonathon had already qualified based on points accumulated throughout the competition season. Millar was visibly moved when asked to describe what it meant to earn her way into the second week, and to have the chance to compete alongside her family. It was all business though when asked which horse she would be competing in week two, after Jonathon “borrowed” her usual ride, Piccobello du Val du Geer, for this weekend’s events.
“It’s a big deal for me for sure,” she said of competing as a family unit next week. “I love this show and we always enjoy competing here.” And of the horsepower conundrum? “I LOANED her to Jonathon on the one condition that if I qualified for the second week, I get her back!” laughed Amy.
This afternoon’s matinee performance featured a fun Pony Jumper Challenge, which saw the Millar men already making their mark – finishing first and second with their pony-riding partners; and the wildly popular Horse Hockey feature, where NHL Legends Darryl Sittler, Brad Marsh, Mark Napier and Rick Vaive worked the ring at Hockey on Horseback – in the form of Polo.
Tomorrow brings The Ontario Toyota Dealers Royal Rodeo back to the Ricoh Coliseum, where the best from the East and West go head-to-head in the most extreme sports of bull riding, bronc riding and barrel racing. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster or can be purchased at the gate.
The International division for show jumpers begins Tuesday, November 9th, once again bringing top competitors from Canada, the USA, Columbia, Venezuela, Ireland, the Netherlands and Great Britain together to compete through Saturday, November 13th.
Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing Championship – Final Results
Rider / Hometown / Horse
1 Waylon Roberts / Port Perry, ON / Donaghan
2 Jessica Phoenix / Cannington, ON / Exploring
3 Holly Payne / Gladstone, NJ / Steel Commander
4 Will Coleman / Gordonsville, VA / War End
5 Penny Rowland / Orangeville, ON / Roundabout
Canadian Show Jumping Championships Presented by Greenhawk – Final Results
Rider / Hometown / Horse / Score
1 Yann Candele / Caledon, ON / Pitareusa / 0
2 Amy Millar / Perth, ON / Costa Rica Z / 4
3 Sarah Johnstone / Orangeville, ON / Starlet / 5
4 Jill Henselwood / Oxford Mills, ON / Special Ed / 6
5 Keean White / Rockwood, ON / Celena Z / 7
Photos: Waylon Roberts and Donaghan cut all the corners to claim the Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing Championship for a record fourth time. Photo © Michelle Dunn
Yann Candele and Pitareusa were crowned the Champions, following three rounds of competition in the Canadian Show Jumping Championships presented by Greenhawk. Photo © Ben Radvanyi
About the Royal Horse Show and Royal Agricultural Winter Fair ~ A tradition since 1922, the Royal Horse Show brings top horses and riders from Canada the U.S. and abroad, including Olympic and World champions, to Toronto each November to compete for more than $750,000 in prize money and Championships. Over 1,000 horses of all shapes and sizes participate in show jumping, dressage, indoor eventing, driving, coaching and so much more, over the ten-days of hotly-contested competition. Special features such as the Spirit of the Horse Ring, EquiMania!, the Farmer’s Market, Trade-Fair Shopping, educational and agricultural events & competition round out this family tradition. Since its debut, the Royal has been a highlight of the Toronto fall social calendar, visited by Royalty, politicians, farmers and horse-enthusiasts for generations. For more information, The Royal Online’s live webcasting, complete schedule, results and to purchase tickets, please visit www.royalfair.org.