Keean White of Rockwood, ON, won the $20,000 Open Welcome, presented by Wellings of Stittsville, on Thursday, July 12, at the Ottawa National Horse Show held at Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON.
A starting field 31 entries contested Thursday’s featured class with seven jumping clear over the track set by Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt to advance to the tie-breaking jump-off. As the third rider to contest the shortened jump-off course, White moved into the lead with a clear round in a time of 42.85 seconds riding Leilani, owned by Angelstone Farms and Lisa Marie Gauthier.
The next rider to challenge the jump-off was Hugh Graham, 69, of Schomberg, ON, riding the Canadian-bred entry of Knock Out 3E owned by KingRidge Stables. While the pair had the fastest time, stopping the clock in 41.92 seconds, the crowd groaned as a rail came down at the final fence. Jonathon and Ian Millar, both of Perth, ON, were clear in the jump-off with Dublin and Ericson respectively, but neither could catch the time posted by White.
White, 35, has only been partnered with his winning mount, Leilani, for less than one year.
“She’s really light, she’s really delicate, and she’s really, really careful,” said White, 35, of the eight-year-old grey Oldenburg mare purchased last year from U.S. competitor Andy Kocher. “She doesn’t have much experience but for sure she has all of the traits to be one of my top horses in the future.”
Kirk Webby, 47. who represented his native New Zealand at the 2008 Olympic Games, was clear in a time of 43.50 seconds to finish runner-up riding Brando du Rouet. Finishing a fraction of second behind in 43.51 seconds was Ian riding Ericson, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Padinus x Iroko) owned by Millar Brooke Farm Ltd. and Partners. Ericson’s regular rider, 2016 Rio Olympian Amy Millar, is currently expecting her second child, and was on hand to cheer her father to a third place finish.
Jonathon, 43, finished fourth with a clear jump-off performance in a time of 44.89 seconds aboard Dublin while Graham settled for fifth. Nora Grey, 23, of Owen Sound, ON, incurred four faults in the jump-off to finish sixth riding Dior while Adrienne Iverson, 31, of Toronto, ON, elected to retire after a refusal with Zhivago.
Wesley Clover Parks Executive Director Karen Sparks of Ottawa, ON, missed qualifying for the jump-off after incurring one time fault for exceeding the 76-second time allowed with Calvin Klein. Ireland’s Jordan Coyle, one of many international competitors at this year’s Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments, suffered the same fate with Colorado, placing him ninth in the final standings. Luis Fernando Saenz of Guatemala rounded out the top ten with the fastest four-fault effort in the opening round aboard Corino VDL.
“When Karen Sparks and her family took over the park, I thought they were doing something really special,” said White of the transformation of the Wesley Clover Parks venue. “I’ve made an effort for the last two years to be here to support it because I think what they’re doing is amazing. I think it’s really good for the sport here in Canada. I’m trying to make a big effort as a Canadian athlete to support the best Canadian shows, and Ottawa is one that we really put on our calendar. What Karen is doing here is amazing. It’s a place where we all want to be and that we all want to support.”
Top equestrian sport continues at Wesley Clover Parks on Friday, July 13, highlighted by the $10,000 Canadian Hunter Derby Series Open Hunter Derby, presented by Pepsi, at 4 p.m. Saturday’s featured event is the $50,000 Grand Prix, presented by Brookstreet Hotel, beginning at 2:30 p.m. The first week of competition culminates on Sunday at 1 p.m. with the $7,500 1.25m Speed Derby, presented by Millar Brooke Farm, immediately followed by the $2,500 1.15m Canine Equine Relay, presented by Royal LePage TEAM Realty.
Competition begins daily at 8 a.m. and admission and parking are by donation. Spectators are encouraged to come out and explore all the family-friendly activities that the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments have to offer.
Visit www.OttawaEquestrianTournaments.com for more information on the Ottawa National and CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Shows. Find the latest updates, photos, and information by following Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments on Facebook here.
$20,000 Open Welcome, presented by Wellings of Stittsville
1. Keean White/Rockwood, ON/Leilani/0:0/42.85
2. Kirk Webby/New Zealand/Brando du Rouet/0:0/43.50
3. Ian Millar/Perth, ON/Ericson/0:0/43.51
4. Jonathon Millar/Perth, ON/Dublin/0:0/44.89
5. Hugh Graham/Schomberg, ON/Knock Out 3E/0:4/41.92
6. Nora Gray/Owen Sound, ON/Dior/0:4/45.61
7. Adrienne Iverson/Toronto, ON/Zhivago/0:retired
8. Karen Sparks/Ottawa, ON/Calvin Klein/1
9. Jordan Coyle/Ireland/Colorado/1
10. Luis Fernando/Saenz Guatemala/Corino VDL/4