Toronto, Ontario – He may have only been the second competitor to tackle the course, but Mario Deslauriers showed why he is considered one of the best riders in the world by winning Round One of the $70,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championships, presented by Greenhawk Harness and Equestrian Supplies Inc. and Ariat International Inc.
The opening event in the Royal Horse Show, running as part of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair from November 3 to 12 in Toronto, ON, saw 20 of the best riders in the country competing for the title of Canadian Show Jumping Champion. Only the second rider to attempt the track set by Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt, Deslauriers of Bromont, QC, stopped the clock in 59 seconds flat to take the early lead. None who followed were able to come anywhere close to catching him. Ian Millar, the 2004 Canadian Show Jumping Champion, gave it his best shot with In Style, but a rail at fence five resulted in a four-second time penalty being added to his score, giving him a total of 64.65 seconds.
“I knew when I finished that I had a very quick time,” explained Deslauriers who was riding his 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, Naomi. “The jumps just came up perfect, I never had to slow up and make any adjustments. It was very smooth to ride and also very fast!”
As for Millar, he will have his work cut out for him on Saturday afternoon as he attempts to win a record tenth title. But Deslauriers, who has yet to claim the Canadian Show Jumping Championships at the Royal, has other plans. “I told Ian that this year, I wasn’t going to make it so easy for him!” he laughed.
Sitting in third position is Ainsley Vince of Milton, ON. Riding her long-time partner, Catch 22, Vince also had a rail for a four-second penalty, but still managed a quick time of 67.04 seconds. Vince and Catch 22, a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, are the only combination to have won back-to-back Canadian Show Jumping Championship titles at the Royal, claiming victory in 2001 and 2002.
Ottawa’s Kelley Small currently lies in fourth position with Calibur while Sydney Olympian John Pearce of Stouffville, ON, rounds out the top five riding Archie Bunker.
Riders carry their scores forward to Saturday afternoon’s deciding event, a two-round Grand Prix competition, where the 2006 Canadian Show Jumping Champion will be crowned at the conclusion. With $70,000 in prize money on the line as well as national glory, the stakes are high and CBC Sports will capture all of the drama from the Ricoh Coliseum, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
Earlier on Friday evening, Carly Campbell Cooper of Elora, ON, won the opening round of the Jump Canada Talent Squad National Final, a means of identifying riders with the potential to become future members of the Canadian Show Jumping Team. Riding Napier, the 24-year-old enjoyed one of two clear rounds – Felix-Antoine Moulin of St. Augustin, QC, also managed to leave all the rails up riding Rapsody, but in a slower time to finish as the runner-up.
Tickets for all Royal Horse Show performances, held as part of the 84th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 416 872-7777 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.ca. For more information on the Royal Horse Show, including complete schedules, please visit www.royalfair.org.
Canadian Show Jumping Championship – Round 1
- Mario Deslauriers Bromont, QC Naomi 59.00
- Ian Millar Perth, ON In Style 64.65
- Ainsley Vince Milton, ON Catch 22 67.04
- Kelley Small Ottawa, ON Calibur 67.36
- John Pearce Stouffville, ON Archie Bunker 67.77
- Laurie Bucci St. Hiliare, QC Quidam’s Ramiro 68.63
- Hyde Moffatt Brantford, ON Ting Tin 68.72
- Jill Henselwood Oxford Mills, ON Special Ed 69.26