The excitement and time-honoured tradition of the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show returns to the Ricoh Coliseum as part of the 91st Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, November 1-10, 2013. Over 850 horses of all shapes and sizes are guaranteed to thrill and astound with their grace, power, beauty and athleticism. The Royal Horse Show is one of just a handful of the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) prestigious four-star shows in North America.
A fantastic family event, this year’s Royal Horse Show will include feature performances by Sylvia Zerbini, formerly of Cavalia, and her nine Arabian horses at Liberte, appearing November 6-9, and Australian “Horseman, Entertainer and Bush Poet” Guy McLean, appearing November 1-3.
The hugely popular Jack Russell Terrier races return to perform in the Horse Show as well as at the new President’s Choice Animal Theatre.
New in the Horse Show ring for 2013 are three divisions created by the Royal to foster the development of young riders and help promote the Thoroughbred industry, following the decline in horse-racing in Ontario.
The Pony Jumper Challenge (November 2, matinee) is designed to emulate competition in Europe, where children are typically exposed to the atmosphere and challenges of the jumper show-ring much earlier than their North-American counterparts.
The 1.20m Junior Jumper division (November 7 & 9) takes the concept one step further, aiming to create growth from the grass-roots level in the under-18 age group.
“We want to support the development of young Canadian show jumpers at an earlier age,” explained Brian O’Leary, chairman of the Royal Horse Show. “The greater horse show community approached the Royal to fill this gap we have in the development of our up and coming National team riders, and we are thrilled to promote and encourage their growth at this level.”
The third new development: two breed-specific classes for thoroughbreds, who may or may not come to the Royal following careers as racehorses. Two performance classes highlighting suitability for dressage or for the hunter-jumper show rings have been exceptionally well-received by the equine community – so much so that the Royal will have to run three “flights” rather than the originally planned for single flight of seven horses.
The Royal has also added a full slate of Horse Show competition for Sunday, November 10, which will be FREE with general admission to the Fair.
Opening Weekend at the Royal offers an incredible double-bill featuring the $75,000 Greenhawk Canadian Cup and $20,000 Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge, running first and second rounds of competition Friday and Saturday evenings respectively.
The biggest names in Canadian show jumping will be participating, including ten-time Olympian Ian Millar (Perth, ON), fellow Olympians Jill Henselwood (Oxford Mills, ON) and Mac Cone (King, ON), and upwards of 20 others including three-time defending Canadian Champion Yann Candele (King City, ON). Ainsley Vince (Burlington, ON), who has represented Canada at three World Cup Finals and is a past back-to-back Canadian Champion will also return to attempt to break Candele’s winning streak.
Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge 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 hoof. Penalties accumulate over two nights of competition and at the end the rider with the lowest score will be declared the Champion.
This year, Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge welcomes two very special guest riders to the competition: William Fox-Pitt and Oliver Townend, both of Great Britain. Fox-Pitt is currently the number two ranked rider in the world on the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) Longines ranking list, having won major international competitions across Britain and Europe this summer, following a second-place finish at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event this past April. Townend won both the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and the Burghley Horse Trials in 2009, before being sidelined by injury for about a year. Townend is on the mend, however, and will be a force to be reckoned with in Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge.
They will join top Canadian eventers in applying pressure to Port Perry, Ontario’s Waylon Roberts, who has won the Indoor Eventing title more times than not. Whether the most pressure comes from the Brits, or from Canadian teammates Jessica Phoenix (Uxbridge, ON) and Selena O’Hanlon (Kingston, ON), or even Roberts’ own father, Ian Roberts (Port Perry, ON) – remains to be seen!
Opening weekend would not be complete without the thrills and spills of the Ontario Toyota Dealers Royal Rodeo, Sunday, November 3rd , back once more to keep visitors on the edge of their seats. Bull riding, bronc riding and barrel racing are just a few of the highlights of this exciting afternoon. The much loved star of CBC’s Heartland, Amber Marshall will be co-hosting the Rodeo once again.
The second week of competition at the 91st Royal will, as always, welcome an outstanding lineup of international riders to compete in matinee and evening competitions including the $100,000 Hickstead FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix presented by GroupBy, the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open and the $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge.
The biggest threat to the home squad may come from south of the border. Top US riders including two-time Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward (Brewster, NY), Olympian Kent Farrington (Chicago, IL), Olympic team gold medalist Laura Kraut (Wellington, FL) and Olympian Reed Kessler (Armonk, NY) regularly make the trip north, and are often well rewarded for their efforts.
Hotly anticipated international riders include Belgian twin brothers Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts, fellow countrymen Francois Mathy Jr. and Jos Verlooy, Ireland’s Conor Swail and Richie Moloney, Dutchman Harrie Smolders and Great Britain’s Tim Gredley.
Wednesday’s afternoon horse show (free with general admission) and Thursday evening will include the $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage where two-time Olympian Jacqueline Brooks (Cedar Valley, ON), Olympian David Marcus (Campbellville, ON) and Diane Creech (Caistor Centre, ON) will go head-to-head to produce a new Royal Dressage champion.
All of this action is complemented by a raft of National and World Championships being contested in the horse show ring across breed, discipline and level. All of the action from the Ricoh Coliseum is available for live-streaming online and on-demand by subscription, visit www.royalfair.org for complete details.