Although Ashley Holzer’s young new mount is named after a Hollywood picture, Breaking Dawn aka “Edward” is far from a seasoned performer. In fact, tonight was his first ever CDI3* Freestyle to Music. But you’d never know it. The pair swept the two-day, $40,000 FEI Dressage CDI3* competition presented by Dominion Regalia, consisting of the Grand Prix yesterday afternoon and the Freestyle this evening in front of an enthusiastic and educated crowd at the 89th Royal Horse Show.
“It’s such an incredible feeling to have a horse that you know hasn’t done this before – to come in and not only step up and do the job he did, in the atmosphere he was in – but to do it in a way that he was really working with me and happy to be trying his best instead of freaking out,” raved an excited Holzer following the awards. “We all know it’s a tough venue to work in! He just amazed me in so many ways. A – He showed me that he’s got what it takes. And B – Not only does he have what it takes, he LOVES doing it. No matter how loud the crowd cheered, he was soaking it in and feeding off it.”
For a horse that only learned flying changes six weeks ago, Holzer’s mount had a positive, consistent test which highlighted his superb, rhythmical, ‘marching’ trot work.
Ingrid MacAulay, President of the Ground Jury and Hilda Gurney, Judge at ‘C’ tonight, had nothing but good things to say about Holzer’s plans for Edward.
“I was delighted with Breaking Dawn and I think he’s really a horse of the future,” remarked Gurney. “His piaffe was fabulous and his passage is really on the right track. He’s really expressive, he is capable of everything. As a horse just starting the Grand Prix, I think he’s just a super horse for the future of Canada. I’m delighted to have judged him, it was quite an honour. He’s only going to get better.”
Victoria Winter finished in second tonight, equally pleased with the performance of her mount Proton, a seasoned campaigner having been previously competed by owner Cindy Ishoy.
“I was really thrilled with Proton tonight,” said Winter. Even though he’s been in that ring a number of times, both with myself and with Cindy, he always gets nervous in there and always gets backed off with the crowd. He was really listening to me tonight and he piaffed really well with no mistakes, he really pulled through for me.”
When asked to comment on the level of competition in the dressage arena at the Royal Horse Show, Ms. Gurney was effusive in her praise.
“I was thrilled with the Freestyles. I thought all the horses performed better tonight. I was so pleased with the music, and the huge audience – the stands were almost full. The horses performed beautifully – it was just a fabulous evening.” Gurney concluded.
Earlier in the evening, the International Jumpers competed in the $31,000 International Jumper Top Score, where partners Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton took top honours finishing first and second respectively.
Just 14 riders competed in the Top Score class, where jumps are assigned a point value and riders have 50 seconds in which they pick their own line in order to amass maximum points. When the clock stops, they can elect to jump the ‘Joker’ fence, worth 200 points if cleared – but minus 200 if knocked down.
Since Kraut and Skelton are partners, the logical question was “Who picked the plans tonight?”
“I was never very good at math!” Laughed Skelton. “You try and plan the best route and hope it works out.”
Kraut, who finished up 10 points to the better at the end of the night explained: “I wasn’t going to do his course, but when I watched him do it, I decided to switch. But I noticed that both times, he bypassed the 40 point fence en route between two jumps. Since my horse is very young and inexperienced, I thought it would be better to just jump the 40 point fence and give him a nicer approach to the next jump, and it gave me ten extra points, which worked out quite well for me.”
The International riders will have the opportunity to compete throughout the rest of the week in matinee and evening competitions including tomorrow night’s $50,000 Weston Canadian Open and the sold-out $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge. All of the weekday matinee performances are FREE with general admission to the Fair.
$40,000 FEI Dressage CDI 3* Freestyle to Music, presented by Dominion Regalia
1. Ashley Holzer / Bronx, NY / Breaking Dawn / 73.475%
2. Victoria Winter / Toronto, ON / Proton / 69.400%
3. Jacqueline Brooks / Mt. Albert, ON / Gran Gesto / 68.925%
4. Gary VanderPloeg / King City, ON / Degas / 67.575%
5. Evi Strasser / St. Adele, QC / Action Tyme / 67.025%
$31,000 International Jumper Top Score
1. Laura Kraut / USA / Woodstock O / 1280
2. Nick Skelton / United Kingdom / Unique / 1270
3. Harrie Smolders / NED / Udo D.V. / 1250 / 55.23 seconds (tie)
4. Leslie Howard / USA / Lennox Lewis 2 / 1250 / 56.54 seconds (tie)
5. Dermott Lennon / IRE / Loughview Lou Lou / 1240