The popular $20,000 Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge rocked the house on Saturday night as competitors tackled a mix of delicate show jumping fences and challenging cross-country obstacles set by course designer Mark Phillips. Lauren Kieffer of Middleburg, VA, made her Royal Horse Show a winning one, riding Glendening Avis, a 13-year-old buckskin Canadian Sport Horse mare owned by Callie Evans, to victory.
“I’m thrilled. The mare is just incredible; she tries her guts out,” said Kieffer, who was riding a borrowed mount that she rode for the first time on Friday. “It’s very rare that you hop on something and sync together so quickly. It was so much fun to do this on her, and I felt so in sync with her.
“Brandon and Kendal certainly put the pressure on; I was hoping for a little bit more breathing room!” joked Kieffer following her indoor eventing debut. “The format is fun; it’s energetic. If it gets one person to leave here and go Google ‘eventing’ and get into it, then it did its purpose.”
Finishing second was Toronto’s own Brandon McMechan riding Oscar’s Wild to a clear round in a time of 92.78 seconds to hold off third-placed Kendal Lehari of Uxbridge, ON, who was also clear riding Totally Frank in a time of 94.30 seconds.
At the conclusion of the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge, World Championship and Pan American Games medalist Selena O’Hanlon of Kingston, ON, was presented with the Michael Gutowski Award, donated by Mr. Iain Gilmour, as the highest-ranked Canadian athlete on the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Eventing World Athlete Rankings.
For more information on the Royal Horse Show, the marquee event of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, please visit www.royalfair.org/horseshow.html.