Equestrian Canada (EC) has awarded Mathilde Blais Tétreault of Montreal, QC with the 2017 Orion Cup in light of her success as an up-and-coming elite dressage athlete.

Presented to a promising dressage athlete in the process of transitioning from the Young Rider level to Grand Prix, the Orion Cup was created in memory of one of Canada’s most well-known equine dressage stars.

“I feel very honoured to win the Orion Cup and want to thank Pia and Dagmar Fortmuller for creating this award in memory of a very special horse,” said Blais Tétreault, who was presented with a cash prize of $1,000 to be used toward her competitive goals in dressage, as well as a commemorative jacket and cooler. “It’s been a wonderful year with Utah and this award is a great way to finish the 2017 season.”

Open to Canadian dressage riders aged 16 to 25, the award is presented to the rider with the highest average of three scores from the Under 25 (U25) Grand Prix level. Scores obtained at CDI-level competitions receive a 1% bonus. The program encourages young athletes to focus on training and planning at an elite level, with tangible goals and confidence.

Blais Tétreault earned the coveted title for 2017 after achieving a total qualifying average of 68.039% at the CDI-U25 Grand Prix level with her horse, Utah (Jazz x Landwind II B), a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.

The duo’s first qualifying score of 65.907% came along with a third place finish in the CDI-U25 Grand Prix in February during the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL. A win at Wellington followed in March, providing a second qualifying score of 68.279%. Blais Tétreault then traveled to Europe, where a second-place finish with Utah in Crozet, FRA in August produced a third qualifying score of 66.930%. With all of Blais Tétreault’s scores being earned at CDI-level competitions, she was awarded a 1% bonus per score.

“I would like to congratulate Mathilde on all of her huge success this year,” said Pia Fortmuller, who established the Orion Cup in 2016. “She has had such a strong season with her partner Utah. Our equine partners are the heart of our sport and it means the world to me that Orion’s legacy can help another aspiring talent on their journey.”

Orion (Jazz x Consul), a 1996 Dutch Warmblood gelding, was an Olympic Team horse for Canada and was trained to the advanced level by Fortmuller’s former coach, Leslie Reid, who rode Orion at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In 2009, Fortmuller took over the ride on this incredibly talented horse. The pair would go on to compete at the Grand Prix level, culminating with their selection as the reserve combination for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Sadly, Orion died at the start of 2014. His passing was a devastating loss to Fortmuller and her family, as well as the Canadian Dressage Team.

The Orion Cup pays tribute to this very special horse. Just as Orion was instrumental to the start of Fortmuller’s grand prix career, this award provides other talented Canadian dressage athletes with a leg-up in the sport.

“I am so excited to pass on this award to Mathilde Blais Tétreault,” said Fortmuller. “She is such a talented rider with such a bright future ahead of her, and I don’t think it will be long until we see Mathilde competing successfully on the international Grand Prix scene. The step up from Young Riders to Grand Prix is a big one and it is so important that goals and programs exist to help our young talents continue to rise to the top.”

Blais Tétreault has now turned her focus to the 2018 season, in which she’ll take a new horse through the small tour with sights set on the 2019 Pan American Games. With Utah’s task of bringing Blais Tétreault up the levels complete, he will now partner with Tétreault’s younger sister, Laurence.

“Laurence will compete with Utah in the U25 division for the 2018 season and the rest of his career,” explained Blais Tétreault. “I wish them the best and I’m very excited for their future.”

For more information about the Orion Cup, visit www.equestrian.ca/sport/dressage/awards.