Team Spirit, Key to Canada’s Overwhelming Success on the Florida Dressage Circuit

Fri, 03/24/2006 - 00:00
2006 Dressage in Florida

With the Florida dressage circuit’s third and final International dressage competition (CDI) coming to an end, Canadian riders have continued to take a leading role in every major class. Although Canada Day is months away, due to the continuous celebration of Canadian talent

, team spirit and patriotism, the summation of the past three CDI3* events may come across as a several week long Canadian jubilee.

The Canadian success story began to unfold at the Gold Coast Opener CDI3* held from Jan. 20-22. Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer of New York, NY kicked off the season with a clean sweep in the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire I Freestyle divisions, all with her nine-year old Dutch Warmblood gelding Pop Art (Amsterdam). In addition, Holzer was victorious in the Grand Prix with her Athens Olympic mount Imperioso (Gestion Cocktail), a 16-year old Dutch Warmblood stallion, as well as placing fourth with Gambol, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion she co-owns with Dr. Diane Fellows.

Holzer and Imperioso dazzled everyone in the Grand Prix Freestyle to music, receiving a score of 76.375% for their performance. If that were not enough, Holzer went on to claim yet another title, winning the Grand Prix Special (GPS) with Gambol. Fellow Canadian riders were not far behind Holzer, including Jacqueline Brooks of Mount Albert, ON who finished in fourth place in the GPS with Gran Gesto (Grannus) and Olympian Evi Strasser of Ste-Adele, QC finished fifth in the Grand Prix with her 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Quantum Tyme (Quattro B).

Next up on the circuit was the CDI3* Palm Beach Dressage Derby in Loxahatchee. The successful trend continued with Holzer and Pop Art repeating their triple class win in the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire I Freestyle. Holzer and Imperioso, also claimed a repeat win in the Grand Prix, with Gambol finishing fourth. Her winning streak did not end here, as Holzer also captured the GPS with Gambol and finished second in the Grand Prix Freestyle with Imperioso.

Other top five performances were scored by several riders including Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON who finished fifth in the Intermediaire I Freestyle with Alyson Carpenter’s Canadian bred Fortissimo (Fabriano/Consul), and Strasser aboard Quantum Tyme, who finished fifth in the GPS. This event also saw Canadian Young riders Tara Dougans of Toronto, ON, Catherine Goulet of Saint-Marc-Sur-Richelieu, QC and Leah Wilson of Caledon, ON successfully represent their country.

The last leg of the Canadian-dominated circuit, the CDI3* Zada Enterprises LLC WEF Dressage Classic came to a close on March 19, by showcasing an unprecedented winning sweep by Holzer, who remained undefeated with Pop Art.

“Judges really appreciate the athleticism and precision of this unbelievable horse,” commented Holzer.

Holzer kept the awe factor going strong in the Grand Prix class, held Thursday March 16, when her rides aboard both Imperioso and Gambol received identical scores of 70.708% from the international judging panel.

“There is nothing like being Canadian, I’m very proud to be Canadian. The Canadian riders have all had their share of fantastic results and what’s so special about our well regarded group is the sense of team spirit which we all share,” said Holzer. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be part of such a close knit team and this, without a doubt, has been a contributing factor to our recent success.”

Several other Canadian riders were once more in the ribbons of major international classes. Brooks rode her 2003 Pan American Games partner, the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Gran Gesto, owned by Brinc Ltd. and Anne Welch to a third place finish in the Grand Prix Freestyle with a score of 70.75% - just over 1% away from the win. Strasser rode her extremely expressive 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Quantum Tyme to a fifth place finish, earning a score of 70.150%. Not far behind, finishing in eighth position was Jon Costin of Puslinch, ON, who was awarded a score of 67.675% with his 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Wholio (Warkant).

“It’s great to have someone like Ashley here to hold our flag up so high. This has been an unforgettable Florida season for Canadian dressage riders and a very good preparation for the upcoming World Equestrian Games in Aachen,” commented Strasser. “Our team is very united and it’s nice to see our training and coaching programs coming to place. We are all training hard to keep performing at this level.”

In the FEI young horse division at the CDI 3* Zada Enterprises LLC WEF Dressage Classic, Canada displayed that not only does the country have some promising young stock, it has the riders to guide them to the top. In the five-year-old division, Holzer received a score of 77.6% for her presentation of Dr. Fellow’s Arabesque (Abinos / Don Gregory). The six-year-old division saw Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON emerge victorious with a score of 77.6% aboard Devon L (De Niro / Wolkenstein II), owned by Douglas Leatherdale.

“I am honoured to be part of the Canadian contingent. This is an incredible group of individuals and it is amazing to see how supportive and helpful everyone has been,” stated American Dr. Dianne Fellows, commenting on the high level of success attained by Canadian dressage riders during this year’s winter circuit.

Brinc Ltd. and Anne Welch’s Hanoverian gelding Balmoral (Belcanto / Consul), who was one of the stars in last year’s FEI 6-year-old division, has continued to show tremendous potential. The seven-year-old, who is a half brother to Fortissimo, was bred by Stephanie Jeffrey of King City, ON, and won both the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I Open classes with scores of 71.75% and 64.5%.

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