Blainville, Quebec – Tina Busse-Irwin of Lakefield, ON, was the winner on Saturday night during the grand finale of the CDI-W Blainville International Classic held June 26 to 28 at Blainville Equestrian Park north of Montreal, QC.

Sold-out since its inception, Saturday evening’s Freestyle Gala is the highlight of the CDI-W Blainville International Classic and features Grand Prix and Intermediaire I Freestyle performances, which see riders choreograph required movements to the music of their choice.

Busse-Irwin selected giant hits from Tina Turner and Lionel Ritchie to highlight the performance of Amicelli, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by her mother, Ute Busse, and Wendy Beresford. ‘Simply The Best’ is used for the passage and trot tour while ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ highlights the canter work. The panel of five international judges rewarded Busse-Irwin with the winning score of 68.90%.

“I was really pleased with him, his piaffe and passage were very expressive,” said Busse-Irwin, whose freestyle program was produced by Wendy Watson and Lewis Manne of Zap Productions, long-time supporters of Busse-Irwin and her husband, fellow international dressage competitor, Jaimey Irwin. “To put all this hard work, time and energy into it and have it all come together is amazing. I’ve had my share of wild rides on him, so it is very rewarding! The music really suits him, and I have a lot of fun with the freestyle.”

It was Busse-Irwin’s second year contesting the Grand Prix Freestyle at Blainville and the 27-year-old athlete noted, “It is great atmosphere, and a great venue. You don’t get to do a lot of competitions with the lights, at night, in front of big crowds, so it is great to get the horses out there. I really enjoy coming to this show.”

Making her debut in the Freestyle Gala at Blainville was runner-up Simone Williams. The resident of Navan, ON, performed a Latin-inspired program designed by Applause Dressage and featuring Canadian artists Jesse Cook, Pavlo and Juan Jose Carranza. Two of the five judges had Williams to win, but her overall score of 66.25% left her in second place overall with Wunder Ein, a 10-year-old Hannoverian gelding that she purchased in Germany as a two-year-old.

“He performed very well in the electric atmosphere, I was proud of him,” noted Williams, a member of Canada’s Team at the 1999 Pan American Games. “It was our first time performing the Freestyle at Blainville under the lights, and I was very happy with how expressive he was.”

Williams was also impressed by the number of people who came out watch the freestyle performances, despite less than ideal weather conditions.

“It was raining, and yet the bleachers were still full,” she said. “So many people just brought their umbrellas and came out to support dressage. We need great competitions like this one in Blainville to showcase the musical freestyle and give spectators a chance to enjoy it.”

Cindy Ishoy, a member of Canada’s Bronze Medal Team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, placed third riding the 10-year-old Dread Response. The pair earned a score of 65.05% while Armand Valkenborg of Ste. Marthe, QC, placed fourth with 63.05% riding Seigneur, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Jazz.

In the Intermediaire Freestyle, Canadian Olympian Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON, easily captured victory. Riding Anton, an eight-year-old Saxon-bred gelding owned by her mother, Robyn Eames, Trussell earned an impressive score of 71.15%.

Following in second was 1988 Olympic bronze medalist Gina Smith of Brockville, ON, who earned 66.95% riding Frappuccino. Lee Tubman of Smithville, ON, rounded out the top three by earning 66.50% with De La Rosa, a seven-year-old Hannoverian mare by De Niro.

For more information on the CDI-W Blainville International Classic, visit Full results are available at

CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle – Final Results

Rider Hometown Horse Score

1. Tina Busse-Irwin Lakefield, ON Amicelli 68.90%

2. Simone Williams Navan, ON Wunder Ein 66.25%

3. Cindy Ishoy Lynden, ON Dread Response 65.20%

4. Armand Valkenborg Ste. Marthe, QC Seigneur 63.05%