After winning the $10,000 1.40m Spirit of the West Cup presented by Ironhill Equestrian last weekend, Yann Candele was disappointed not to be continuing on to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The Royal, which would ordinarily start this week, will instead be held virtually in light of the pandemic.

While Candele was celebrating his win with show organizer John Anderson, the two decided that Candele would sponsor the final competition of the Royal West Mini-Series and increase the prize money.

“Over the past five years of Royal West Tournaments we’ve always hosted a Canadian Championship for the 1.10m, 1,20m and 1.30m divisions. After Yann’s win on Saturday night, he said to me that he wished he was going to the Canadian Championship at the Royal next week. I said ‘Yann, why don’t we just do one here for fun to keep the spirit alive?’” said Anderson.

And so the Royal West Canadian Championship presented by Yann Candele was born. The highlight of the competition will be the $20,000 1.40m Cavalier Horse Transport Spirit of the West Cup. Cavalier Horse Transport, a new commercial horse transport company, was founded by Ellicia Edgar and her husband Bryce of Valley Field Farms. Ellicia is a long-time friend of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping chairman John Anderson and an avid competitor herself and a great supporter of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping.

“We wanted to get some good exposure for Cavalier Horse Transport and since we are Alberta-based it felt that Rocky Mountain Show Jumping and Royal West were the perfect fit for us.” said Edgar. “John and his team have gone out of their way to make show jumping possible this year given the pandemic.”

In fact, the Rocky Mountain Show Jumping series of competitions enjoys incredible support from competitors with most of the sponsorship money for the events coming from exhibitors themselves. In addition to the support from Edgar of Cavalier Horse Transport, other competitors have supported the events through their own companies including Klondike Victory Farm, Eventyre Farms, Kidner Homes, Tamie Phillips Equestrian and others.

“We at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping thought we were dead in the water in mid-March. By the time July rolled around, we knew we had to do something to help keep the industry going,” said Anderson. “Our series of events in August, September, and The Royal West mini-series have catered to all of our Alberta athletes dying to do something with their horses.”

Yann Candele, the four-time Canadian Show Jumping Champion at the Royal Winter Fair, was ecstatic with his win last weekend. He topped a field of six in the jump-off catch riding Diazella, a mare who resides at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping and is owned by Anya Bereznicki who trains with John Anderson.

“I’ve been around and coaching mostly. I haven’t had any horses that can jump at the bigger level, but I’ve been doing a lot of younger horses lately. It was exciting to be part of the grand prix ‒ I can still ride!”

Candele was impressed with Anderson’s entrepreneurial spirit. “John is trying to push the sport forward during the pandemic. We need people like him to make it happen while following the health guidelines.

“I think a lot of show organizers are trying in a hard time to make things available. The restrictions are getting tougher and tougher and who knows what it will be in the next few weeks. Anything that we can do at this point to keep riders in the ring, which is what we live and love to do, is a great opportunity.”

The top three riders with the best results following both the Friday and Saturday classes will be presented with gold, silver and bronze medals.