Ashley Holzer Makes It Three In a Row, Rocking Out Dressage Night at The Royal Horse Show

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fresh off the trail from a career-best 8th place finish at the World Equestrian Games, defending Royal Champion Ashley Holzer “put her hands in the air” and shook up the house during The Royal Horse Show’s Remembrance Day Performance.

Toronto, Ontario - Thursday was dressage night at The Royal Horse Show and it was truly a night to remember. Five top lady riders performed as a crowd of enthusiastic fans showed us that the “Kur” or Freestyle to Music is still their favourite. There were performances set to classical, jazz, and even Latin music, but it was Ashley Holzer that took the risk on a performance that started with Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling.”
“My daughter came up with the idea to do something fun,” said Holzer when referencing the upbeat and contemporary accompaniment developed in partnership with the 13-year-old. “I thought it was a good idea for something new to do.”

Apparently the judges agreed. Finishing with a score of 75.150, almost 4 points above the next competitor, it was agreed that her gamble paid off. This is the third year in a row that Holzer has topped this class with her partner Pop Art. Jacqueline Brooks took second with her long-time Royal partner Gran Gesto, and Victoria Winter took third with Proton.

“Overall it was a very nice test,” said Head of the Ground Jury, Mercedes Campdera, of Mexico. “It was very correct and very harmonious, and that is something you want to see. You want the musicality but you never want to forget the technical part. That’s really important. I gave her 8’s for her tempi changes, they were very well ridden. Today she had a big improvement. But I really, really liked her piaffes – they were the highlight. It was fun.”

When asked why she chose to come to The Royal with her horse Pop Art, so soon after the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Holtzer remarked on her enjoyment of showing in front of her home crowd, but more than anything, to once again receive the Nicoll Award, a tribute to her belated father.

Another tribute to those to remember came earlier in the evening, as the 48th Highlanders marched to pipes and drum during a special Remembrance Day tribute. In a regal and elegant display of tradition, there was more than one tear shed in the house.

The sombre tone was short lived though, as the horse show jumped right into the $31,000 Top Score International Jumper class. Offering a different take on jumping at speed, riders chose their own course based on the number of points assigned to each obstacle. The goal was to accumulate the highest number of points in the time allowed. The riders could then opt to take “The Joker”, a wall towering 1.60 metres high. Success earns an extra 200 points, but fail and deduct 200 from the score.

It was Pablo Barrios representing Venezuela that took the track of choice and came out with top score for tonight.

“I went late in the class and I didn’t see anyone do the plan that I had,” said Barrios of the route that he had selected. “I did my plan of jumping the same jumps as many times as I could, and as fast as I dared, and it worked perfectly.”

The $31,000 International Jumper class for “The Brickenden Trophy” took place this afternooon, where yet another victory was awarded to the Whitaker family, for those following the “Battle of the Royal Families of show jumping” at the Royal this year. It would appear Team Whitaker is firmly ahead of Team Millar, following the impressive strides made by all three family members over the past two days.

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

CDI 3* FEI Grand Prix Freestyle presented by Dominion Regalia
Rider / Horse / Total Percentage
1. Ashley Holzer / Pop Art / 75.150
2. Jacqueline M. Brooks / Gran Gesto / 71.000
3. Victoria Winter / Proton / 69.550
4. Simone Williams / Wunder Ein / 65.550
5. Liz Steacie / Spotless / 64.850

Photo: Ashley Holzer and Pop Art performed a fun, fearless dressage freestyle set to the rocking tunes of The Black Eyed Peas and others, in tonight’s CDI3* FEI Grand Prix Freestyle presented by Dominion Regalia.  Photo © Ben Radvanyi.