90th Royal Horse Show Welcomes Top Equestrians

The Royal Horse Show returns to the Ricoh Coliseum as part of the 90th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, taking place from Nov. 2-11, 2012. Over a thousand horses of all shapes and sizes are guaranteed to thrill and astound the entire family with their grace, power, beauty and athleticism. The Royal Horse Show combines the best in sporting action and family entertainment.

This 90th year welcomes an outstanding lineup of international riders, set to compete in matinee and evening competitions including the $100,000 Hickstead FEI World CupTM Grand Prix, the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open and closing night’s $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge.

As always, the biggest threat in the compet ition ring may come from south of the border. Even a portion of the roster of American riders reads like a “who’s who” of successes in the sport. Two-time Olympic team gold medalists McLain Ward (Brewster, NY) and Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, NY). Olympian Kent Farrington (Chicago, IL),  Olympic team gold medalist Laura Kraut (Wellington, FL) and Olympian Reed Kessler (Armonk, NY). Kessler, at 18, competed in London this summer as the youngest rider ever in the history of Olympic show jumping. Jessica Springsteen will also make her debut in the International division at The Royal this year.

Hotly anticipated international riders include 2002 World Show Jumping Champion Dermott Lennon of Ireland and Belgian twin brothers Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts. Olivier won the prestigious $1,000,000 CN International Grand Prix this September.

The evening performance on Thursday, Nov. 8 offers an exciting combination of international show jumping with the $32,000 MNP International Top Score and the $20,000 Dominion Regalia Royal Invitational Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle to Music competition, where Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer will appear to defend her multiple titles.

The opening weekend on Nov. 2-3 highlights homegrown talent, with both evening horse show performances featuring an action-packed double-bill of the $75,000 Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships and the $20,000 Good Crop Services Indoor Eventing Challenge.

Among the entries for this year’s Greenhawk Canadian Championships are defending Champion Yann Candele (Caledon, ON), as well as Olympian Jill Henselwood (Oxford Mills, ON) and Captain Canada himself, 10-time Olympian Ian Millar (Perth, ON). Two coveted berths in the International Division are up for grabs following the three rounds of the Canadian Championships – competition will be fierce.

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 hoof. Penalties accumulate over two nights of competition and at the end the rider with the lowest score is declared the Champion. The courses this year are being designed by Captain Mark Phillips, multiple Olympic medalist and Chef D’Equipe of the United States Three-Day Eventing team.

Waylon Roberts of Port Perry, ON has won the Indoor Eventing title more times than not. This year, Australian Olympic medalist and two-time World Cup Champion Clayton Fredericks will join the competition and is sure to give Roberts a run for his money.

“It’s my first time to the Royal and I really can’t wait!” declared Fredericks. “I’m told it’s a great show and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Your Indoor Eventing is a fabulous concept and an opportunity to showcase our sport in an exciting way. I hope I can give it a real go at winning this prestigious title.”

Opening weekend would not be complete without the thrills and spills of the Ontario Toyota Dealers Royal Rodeo on Sunday, Nov. 4, 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 renowned Canadian Cowgirls Precision Drill Team will perform and the star of CBC’s Heartland, Amber Marshall will be on hand during the Rodeo to assist with the proceedings. Check royalfair.org for updates and autograph signing information.

 The Royal Horse Show is not limited to competition however, with family-friendly features such as the Canadian Cowgirls Precision Drill Team and an enchanting Lit Dressage demonstration sure to please. The evening performances on the 7th, 8th and 10th will feature Denim & Diamonds, pairing the elegance of dressage with the excitement of reining – with a twist!

Of note: all weekday matinee horse show performances are FREE with general admission to the fair.

For more information, visit www.royalfair.org.

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