Toronto native and three-time Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer, who currently resides in New York, NY, won both the Grand Prix for Freestyle and the Grand Prix Freestyle at the CDI-W Gold Coast Opener, held January 18–22, in West Palm Beach, FL, USA.

Riding Breaking Dawn, a flashy bay 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sired by Akribori and co-owned by Holzer and P.J. Rizvi, Holzer won the Grand Prix for Freestyle test with a score of 71.106%. The duo then performed a spectacular Grand Prix Freestyle to earn 76.900% for the double victory. Holzer’s Freestyle score was more than 4% higher than her nearest competitor.

British Columbia native Shannon Dueck of Loxahatchee, FL, earned a fourth place finish in the Grand Prix for Freestyle scoring 65.170% with Ayscha (Welt Hit II x Rouletto), her 11-year-old Oldenburg mare. In the Freestyle itself, the pair received 69.550% for another fourth place. Olympian Evi Strasser of Sainte Adele, QC, rode Action Tyme, her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, to fifth in both the Grand Prix for Freestyle (64.702%) and the Grand Prix Freestyle (66.850%). Jacqueline Brooks of Cedar Valley, ON rode her 2008 Olympic partner Gran Gesto, the 17-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Brinc Ltd and Anne Welch, to seventh place in the Freestyle scoring 65.125%.
In the Grand Prix for Special, Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON, and Devon L (De Niro x Wolkenstein II), Douglas Leatherdale’s 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, earned a score of 65.043% for third place. Riding her horse Travolta, a 12-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding sired by Olympic Ferro, Joni Lynn Peters of Armstrong, BC, scored 64.362% for fourth place.

Brooks rode D Niro, Brookhaven Dressage Inc’s 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding sired by D-Day, to second place in the Grand Prix Special with a score of 65.578%. Peters and Travolta were third with 65.133%, while Creech and Devon L finished in sixth riding Devon L.

Creech also rode Hallmark, Douglas Leatherdale’s eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding sired by His Highness, to a second place finish in the Intermediaire I class (65.737%) and third place in the Prix St Georges class (64.974%).

In the FEI Junior competition, Tanya Strasser-Shostak, of Sainte Adele, QC, rode Ruby Tyme, Karen Soupcoff’s 11-year-old Oldenberg mare sired by Rohdiamant, to first place in the Individual test with 64.649%. The pair also won the Junior Rider Freestyle with a score of 64.975%.

The international judging panel for the CDI-W Gold Coast Opener included Canada’s Cara Whitham (FEI 5*) and was also comprised of Joanne Graham (FEI 4*¬¬¬—GBR), Bo Jena (FEI 4*—SWE), Natalie Lamping (FEI 4*—USA), Hans Christian Matthiesen (FEI 4*—DEN) Lois Yukins (FEI 4*—USA) and Jeanne McDonald (FEI 4*—USA).

The Gold Coast Opener is the first CDI of the winter season, and is well attended by Canadian riders. This weekend’s World Dressage Masters, also held in West Palm Beach, will feature two members of the 2008 Canadian Olympic dressage team — Ashley Holzer with Pop Art and Jacqueline Brooks with Gran Gesto.