Diane Creech earns her first $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage Cup victory at Toronto’s Royal Horse Show

Diane Creech and Devon L had presence and expression to spare, taking first place in tonight’s $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage Cup Freestyle at the Royal Horse Show. Photo credit: Ben Radvanyi.
Diane Creech and Devon L had presence and expression to spare, taking first place in tonight’s $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage Cup Freestyle at the Royal Horse Show. Photo credit: Ben Radvanyi.

Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON won the $20,000 Royal Invitational Dressage Cup at the Royal Horse Show tonight, dominating the Freestyle to Music with an outstanding score of 75.417 percent with partner Devon L.

From the moment the pair stepped into the ring, it was clear they would be the ones to beat.

“Diane’s horse was wonderful tonight,” said Elizabeth McMullen, judge at ‘C’ this evening. “Lots of power, lots of rhythm. Last night they had some trouble with the tempi changes but tonight it was superb. The horse really makes you sit up and pay attention. He’s just lovely.”

Devon L pulled the whole package together tonight in the Freestyle, showing good energy, engagement, self-carriage and fantastic extensions. The one-tempi zig-zags were nearly flawless and although they appeared to finish ahead of their music, Devon simply had a presence which could not be overlooked.

“Nothing is hard for him in there,” said a visibly emotional Creech following the victory gallop. “He can do the moves and he has the power. It’s a pretty electric atmosphere and it’s always a little wait to see how he’s going to react to the environment. He stayed really focussed and I was really happy with that.”

David Marcus and Chevri’s Capital finished second with an overall mark of 72.917%, narrowly topping Jacqueline Brooks and D’Niro’s score of 72.042%. Evi Strasser took fourth, with 67.375%.

Tonight’s horse show also featured the fun and exciting $33,000 MNP International Top Score Challenge, where each jump is assigned a point value, and riders have to plan their course to amass the maximum number of points within the time allowed.

Once the pair have finished the course, they may opt to take the “Joker” fence, which would either enhance their score by 200 points or diminish it, should they have the rail down.

The format clearly suited Ireland’s Conor Swail and his nimble little mare Arista, as the pair flew across an incredible fourteen jumps plus the Joker, accumulating a grand total of 1360 points. Not shabby for an eight-year-old mare at her first international show, in her first class of this nature.

“She’s unbelievably careful,” boasted Swail, sounding just like a proud father. “It was honestly ‘point point point point’ and she just kept springing around. This was all new to her tonight and I’m just so happy with how she handled herself.”

America’s Laura Kraut was perhaps a little more structured with her initial plan, and insisted she stuck to her plan “100%” – other than the unfortunate lowering of the 80 point fence partway through her round.

“That rail was my undoing tonight,” said Kraut. “Otherwise we would have won handily. But it was a great class for her as she has been jumping lots of Grand Prixs, and I think she really had a fun time tonight. The fences were small and it was easy for her and she just loved it.”

Belgium’s Jos Verlooy slipped into third just behind Kraut, with a total score of 1270 points.

Swail’s Irish eyes must be smiling by now, as he also claimed top prize in the matinee horse show’s $33,000 “Brickenden Trophy” Class for international jumpers, with Ariana.

The  $50,000 Weston Canadian Open will take centre stage tomorrow night in the Ricoh Coliseum. It will cap an evening performance schedule which includes a majestic Percheron six-horse hitch class, an elegant and historic Green Meadows coaching class and an appearance by Sylvia Zerbini, former star of Cavalia, with her breathtaking “Liberte” exhibition.

Horse Show tickets include full general admission and are available for purchase at the Royal, including on the day of performance.


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