The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, officially opened the 89th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair this morning, and with it, the prestigious Royal Horse Show at the Ricoh Coliseum.
The action begins tonight with the initial rounds of both the $100,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championships Presented by Greenhawk, and the $20,000 Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing Championships where the top talent in equestrian sport meet to vie for titles, cash, and in the case of the Canadian Show Jumping Championships, two coveted berths in the second week’s International Division. The weekend’s Show Jumping Championship entries include nine-time Olympic veteran Ian Millar (Perth, ON), his long-time Canadian team-mate Jill Henselwood (Oxford Mills, ON) and defending Canadian Champion Yann Candele (Caledon, ON).
In its sixth year at The Royal, Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing blends the skill and accuracy of show jumping with the thrill and adventure of cross-country riding. Indoor Eventing features a modified course of rugged cross-country jumps such as hedges, walls, and a bank, combined with fragile stadium jumps, whose poles and planks are designed to fall at the slightest nudge of a horse’s hoof. Penalties accumulate over two nights of competition and at the end the rider with the lowest score is declared the Champion.
Although Port Perry, Ontario’s Waylon Roberts has won the Indoor Eventing Championships more often than not, this year may prove the exception with the addition of 2011 Individual Pan-Am Gold medalist Jessica Phoenix (Uxbridge, ON) and the legendary New Zealand rider Mark Todd, whose biography includes two Olympic Gold Medals (1984 & ’88), four wins of the Badminton Horse Trials (first in 1980, most recently 2011) and in 2000 was named Event Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation.
“I’m excited to have been invited to come to Toronto and The Royal,” says Olympian Mark Todd, who is based out of Great Britain. “I’ve competed in our Express Eventing in Britain, and the horses really seem to enjoy the atmosphere, especially the cross-country in the indoor ring. It’s great publicity for our sport, and horse sport in general.”
Opening weekend also includes the return of Horse Hockey, part of the Saturday matinee horse show performance, where NHL stars Curtis Joseph, Darcy Tucker, Mark Napier and Darryl Sittler will exchange skates for saddle & steeds in an exciting polo match with professional polo players Dave Offen and Cliff Sifton.
Opening Sunday, November 6th, brings the action-packed Ontario Toyota Dealers Royal Rodeo to the Ricoh Coliseum once more. Bull riding, bronc riding and barrel racing are the highlights of this exciting afternoon – you won’t want to miss a moment! Thrills and spills, and more than a few minutes on the edge of your seat… it’s RODEO DAY at The Royal! The star of CBC’s Heartland, Amber Marshall will be on hand during the Rodeo and will be holding an autograph session for Rodeo ticket holders immediately following the event.
Following opening weekend, International riders will compete between Tuesday, November 8th and Saturday, November 12th, in matinee and evening competitions including Tuesday’s $31,000 Jolera International Welcome, Wednesday’s $100,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix, Friday’s $50,000 Weston Canadian Open and the sold-out $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge, Saturday the 12th.
All weekday matinee Horse Show performances are free with general admission to the Fair. Thursday evening’s performance offers an exciting double-bill featuring International show jumping as well as the $40,000 CDI 3*** FEI Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle to Music competition presented by Dominion Regalia, where Ashley Holzer will appear to defend her 2009 & 2010 titles. The complete timetable is available at http://www.royalfair.org/.
Royal Horse Show tickets include full admission to all the education, magic and excitement of The Royal.