All-star lineup for Toronto’s Royal Horse Show

Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands, pictured on Regina Z, will defend his 2011 win in the $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge at the Royal Horse Show.
Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands, pictured on Regina Z, will defend his 2011 win in the $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge at the Royal Horse Show. © Ben Radvanyi

Canada’s Royal Horse Show returns to the Ricoh Coliseum early next month as part of Toronto’s 90th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and will host more than a thousand horses of all shapes and sizes.

The Royal Horse Show combines the best in sporting action and family entertainment, and this year welcomes an outstanding lineup of international riders, set to compete in matinee and evening competitions including the $100,000 Hickstead FEI World Cup 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 competition ring at the show, from November 2 to 11, 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 in the history of Olympic show jumping. And if you keep your eyes peeled you might just catch a glimpse of proud parents Patti and Bruce Springsteen in the stands, should they decide to come cheer on daughter Jessica Springsteen, who makes 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 – he will bring his A-game to Toronto this fall.

The evening performance on Thursday, November 8 features 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.

Among the entries for this year’s $75,000 Greenhawk Canadian Championships on opening weekend are defending Champion Yann Candele (Caledon, ON), as well as Olympian Jill Henselwood (Oxford Mills, ON) and Captain Canada himself, ten-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.

The 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.

Port Perry, Ontario’s Waylon Roberts 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!” Fredericks said. “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.”


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