Sunday began with the surprising announcement by Mark Bellissimo “regretfully” announcing the withdrawal of ESP’s bid for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. Bellissimo, while confident that they could have run a very successful WEG stated that ” the marketing conditions would have precluded us from honouring our commitments to a valued sponsor.”
The season was not meant to finish without the challenge of another intense storm whipping through the show grounds on Saturday. The main classes highlighting the end of the circuit, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* and the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby were altered; the Saturday night Grand Prix was postponed until Sunday afternoon and Saturday’s first and Sunday’s second rounds of the Derby were relocated from the grass Stadium field to the Grand hunter ring at the main show grounds. Winner of the $15,000 first prize in the Derby was Molly Ashe-Cawley of Connecticut on Kennzo, a 12 yr old Finnish Warmblood gelding owned by Kristen Abbatiello-Neff. They successfully navigated the challenging second course, which Molly said had the riders ” quaking in our boots”. Her win came after an unusual third round due to a tie with second place finisher Katie Ross aboard her own horse Friday Night.
The hotly contested end of circuit $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* was won by the world’s number one ranked rider and 2012 Olympic Team Gold Medalist, Scott Brash from Great Britain riding Hello Sanctos, owned by Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham. Out of seven entries returning only four jumped double clear in the jump off. Canada’s Ben Asselin, 19, on Attaché Stables’ Makavoy ended up with an impressive fourth place finish among top world class riders.
Canada’s Eric Lamaze’s mount Zigali P S, owned by Artisan Farms, finished the week by winning the Champion Equine insurance Jumper Style Award for the overall circuit, awarded to the jumper whose style exemplifies a show jumper based on scope, rideability, technique and competitive spirit.
Wednesday’s FEI Dressage Jog brought out 106 contestants, of which 31 were Canadians. David Marcus, impeccably attired, started the successful week’s competition by winning the “Best Men’s Turnout Award”, presented by ShowChic Dressage, local vendors who also serve refreshments to spectators and competitors during the Jogs.
Canadians were on a roll from that point – Ashley Holzer won both the FEI Grand Prix CDI 3* on Thursday and the Grand Prix Special CDI 3* riding Marissa Mastranardi’s Tiva Nana. The experience was a “shocker” for Ashley as she has only been riding the mare, who has very limited experience, since September. Extremely impressed with “Nina’s” performance and attitude, Ashley will definitely be rethinking her plans for the mare.
Canadians were front row and center again with Megan Lane’s win on her own Caravella in Friday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*. Megan, having only performed this routine twice, loves riding her Spanish themed Freestyle, which suits her mare’s personality.
It seems Grand Prix classes and Freestyles had our name on them. Canada’s Chris Von Martels contributed to our hot winning streak by coming out on top in the FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle on his own Zilverstar.
The re-established Palm Beach Riding Academy, located at the AGDF grounds, forms a connection between the world of dressage and hunters and jumpers. Part of the covered arena is used for most of the Academy’s hunter/jumper lessons. Managed by Sean Jones ( who rode in Ottawa many years ago ), who is an established, successful hunter/jumper/Eq trainer from Jupiter, the Academy’s goals are to create a community program in which many can participate, whether or not they own a horse. Sean has enhanced the Academy’s lessons with a Club PBRA program which offers a 5 star Horsemanship course – a type of Pony Club testing where one can advance from levels 1 to 5. Benefits include riding lessons, access to shows at discounted rates, theory lessons about horse nutrition and anatomy and lectures from vets, farriers and trainers – all stressing the importance of being good horseman and horse women. Sean sums up his philosophy :” Club PBRA emphasizes the art and sport of riding combined with the science and technique of horsemanship”
Marking the end of this season’s highly successful WEF circuit Mark Bellissimo of ESP spoke of their appreciation to Rolex, whose sponsorship this year has allowed them to take the show to a different level and talked of “exciting new initiatives” that he will be announcing shortly.