|The 91st Royal Agricultural Winter Fair opens today and with it, the prestigious CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show.
Opening weekend in the Royal Horse Show boasts a spectacular lineup of family entertainment and first-rate competition, as well as a very special tribute “A Salute to Those Who Serve” during Friday night’s official opening ceremony.
“We have multiple-time defending champions returning in both Horseware Indoor Eventing and the Greenhawk Canadian Cup,” said Brian O’Leary, Chairman of the Horse Show. “Competition will be fierce, and when you throw in our British guest-riders Oliver Townend and William Fox-Pitt, it’s anybody’s game.”
Entries for the $75,000 Greenhawk Canadian Cup include 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 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 overall is declared the Champion.
Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and Oliver Townend will be “catch-riding” borrowed horses in Horseware Indoor Eventing. Fox-Pitt is currently the number two ranked rider in the world on the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) Longines ranking list, having just won a major four-star competition in France last weekend. Townend is a past winner of the four-star Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and the Burghley Horse Trials. Neither have come to Toronto to sightsee.
They will join a slate of top Canadian eventers in applying pressure to Port Perry, Ontario’s Waylon Roberts, who has won the Indoor Eventing title more times than not. Canadian teammates Selena O’Hanlon (Kingston, ON) and Jessica Phoenix (Uxbridge, ON) and even Roberts’ own father, Ian Roberts (Port Perry, ON) will be putting the pressure on!
In addition, The Royal Winter Fair will open with A ROYAL SALUTE TO THOSE WHO SERVE, during The Royal Horse Show evening performance on opening night November 1st honouring the Canadian Military and First Responders. The Royal Horse Show will feature The Toronto Police Services Mounted Equestrian Games Team Champions who won the North American Police Equestrian Games this past October. Both Trooper, the 2013 Top Horse, and the RCMP Mounted Unit, will take part in the ceremony alongside The Governor General’s Horse Guard and the Toronto Police Services Canine Unit.
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.
Special features in the horse show opening weekend include Australian “horse-whisperer” Guy McLean and the ever-popular Jack Russell Terrier races.
Following opening weekend, International riders will compete from Tuesday, November 5th to Saturday, November 9th, in matinee and evening competitions including Tuesday’s $32,000 Jolera International Welcome, Wednesday’s $100,000 Hickstead FEI World CupTM Grand Prix presented by GroupBy, Thursday’s $32,000 MNP International Top Score, Friday’s $50,000 Weston Canadian Open and the hottest ticket in town – Saturday night’s $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge.
All weekday matinee performances in the horse show are FREE with general admission to the Fair, as is Sunday November 10th. Thursday evening’s performance offers an exciting double-bill featuring International show jumping as well as the $20,000 Royal Invitational Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle to Music competition.
The complete timetable is available at www.royalfair.org.