Two-time Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton will headline the Mad Barn Indoor Eventing Challenge taking place on opening weekend of the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, in Toronto, ON, from November 3 to 12, 2023.
The heart-pounding Indoor Eventing Challenge, presented by Mad Barn, has become a fan favourite at the Royal Horse Show. Riders and horses attempt to clear a mix of cross-country obstacles and traditional show jumping fences in the fastest fault-free time to claim the overall title and the winner’s share of the $20,000 prize money on offer. Fans are encouraged to cheer for the competitors as they race around the course set in the Coca-Cola Coliseum by Captain Mark Phillips, himself an Olympic team gold medalist for his native Great Britian.
Dutton is no stranger to The Royal and is looking forward to returning for the Mad Barn Indoor Eventing Challenge. He will be bringing Quasi Cool, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Caroline Moran, in the hopes of securing victory.
“I have competed at The Royal before and it was an incredible experience,” said Dutton, a six-time Olympian based out of his True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania. “It was a very exciting competition with a great and knowledgeable crowd!”
Unlike traditional eventing, which is held outdoors and features three separate phases of competition held over multiple days, Indoor Eventing puts the skills of horses and riders alike to the test with a fast-paced round against the clock. The fences come up quickly, and riders must be lightning fast with their reactions.
“Indoor Eventing is even more exciting and action-packed than the regular sport of eventing, largely because the crowd gets to be so close to the action,” explained Dutton. “It really makes for a great experience, and it can be a great introduction to our sport for those who might not be familiar with eventing.”
Dutton will be competing alongside his 22-year-old daughter, Olivia Dutton, who has followed in his footsteps as a high-performance eventing athlete. Last year’s winner, Holly Jacks, will be back to defend her title riding Josephine while Colleen Loach and Jessica Phoenix, both two-time Olympians, will be among the other Canadian competitors that are sure to have the crowd cheering.
The Mad Barn Indoor Eventing Challenge will kick off the evening performances of the Royal Horse Show on Friday, November 3, and Saturday, November 4. Both nights will be followed by the two-phase $150,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championships, presented by Henry Equestrian. Reigning Canadian Champion Ali Ramsay of Victoria, BC, will be back to defend her title riding Bonita vh Keizershof Z. She will face stiff competition from 2018 Canadian Champion and local favourite Nicole Walker of Aurora, ON, while Canadian Olympians Yann Candele of Orangeville, ON, and Jay Hayes of Mono, ON, will also be among those looking to claim the national title. As in past years, the top two riders in the overall Canadian Championship standings not already qualified will be invited to contest the Royal Horse Show’s CSI4*-W international division from November 8 to 11, 2023.
Held over four nights, the Royal Horse Show’s international division culminates in the prestigious Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto on Saturday evening, November 11. Last year’s winner, Daniel Coyle of Ireland, will be back to defend his title riding Legacy. Currently ranked 11th in the Longines World Rider Rankings, Coyle will be joined by other past winners of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto including U.S. Olympic team medalists Kent Farrington and McLain Ward, who are currently ranked seventh and eighth respectively.
Several Canadian Olympians will be looking to add their names to the 2023 trophy, however. Tiffany Foster of Langley, BC, came tantalizingly close last year with a third-place finish while Quebec native Mario Deslauriers, who remains the youngest rider to ever win the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final at the age of 19, will put his best foot forward. Olympic team silver medalist Mac Cone of King City, ON, will be in the hunt alongside 2016 Rio Olympian Amy Millar of Perth, ON. They will be joined in the international division by fellow Canadians Sean Jobin, Vanessa Mannix, and Nicole Walker.
“We’ve curated a dynamic 10-day schedule of events that will appeal to horse lovers of all ages,” said Christine Reupke, Director of Equestrian and Breed Sport for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “We love seeing our ‘Loyal Royals,’ many of whom plan their holidays and vacations around The Royal each year, as well as those experiencing the Royal Horse Show for the first time. The overwhelming feedback we receive from competitors and fans alike is that there is truly no other horse show that compares to The Royal.”
Showcasing a wide variety of disciplines and breeds, the Royal Horse Show also features numerous other competitions and special features for horse sport fans. “Polo at The Royal” will thrill spectators on Wednesday evening, November 8, while the “Battle of the Breeds” will see various breeds going head-to-head as they demonstrate their various qualities during evening performances on November 9, 10, and 11. Throughout the 10-day Royal Horse Show, popular Australian horseman, entertainer, and bush poet Guy McLean will be delighting audiences with his team of liberty horses during select performances.
For more information on the Royal Horse Show, including daily schedules and to purchase tickets, visit www.royalfair.org/royalhorseshow. Also download the new Royal Agricultural Winter Fair app for more news and information at your fingertips!