Royal Team Challenge
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair introduced a new event to this year's Royal Horse Show; the Team Challenge was an action packed, international jumping
competition that pitted teams from Canda, United States, and the world against each other on a tough course designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio.
With eight riders to a team, and the top six scores counting towards each team's total score respectively, clear rounds were hard come-by. Charlie Jayne (US), Margie Engle (US), Gerco Schroder (NL), and Dermott Lennon (IRE) were the only four to accomplish clear rounds. Team USA, with a total of eight faults, was the winner. Team World followed in second with eighteen faults, and Canada brought up the rear with a total of twenty-five faults.
Highlights of the event included a spectacular save by Charlie Jayne (US) on the young Holsteiner mare Carentina III, who jumped from a near-standstill to clear the final jump of the triple combination and rode on to a clear round. Canada's own Amy Millar, riding her brother's Dutch Warmblood, Romanov, gave a fast, powerful, and very technically ridden clear round despite small spooks at the beginning. Russia's Ljubov Kochetova rode her horse Levantino L to a final score of thirteen faults; even so, she had the crowd on their seats' edges watching her gelding fly with scope and speed.
In the crowd-pleasing Freestyle competition, the horse and rider perform an original test set to music of their choice using Grand Prix movements such as Piaffe, Passage, Pirouettes and Half-Pass. The movements are choreographed by the rider to suit their horses’ style and preference. This event is always a favourite and this year was no exception.
The first pair of the night was Heather Mason riding Respekt, a Dutch Warmblood gelding. They did not give the best performance with Respekt lacking impulsion and Mason working very hard to achieve their score of 63.70% and last place.
Second was Jackie Brooks on Balmoral, a 10 year old Canadian bred Hanovarian gelding; a crowd favourite. Her choice of music was perfect, with a contrast between soft whistling and aggressive beat drawing laughs from the crowd. Their 2x tempi changes on a circle merited the applause it got and the free walk, pirouettes and extended canter were all very well done. Brooks tied for 4th with with 67.55%.
Riding third was Cheryl Meisner on a 12 year old Dutch Warmblood stallion named Paganini. This Nova Scotian gave a great performance tying with Jackie Brooks for 4th. Their pirouettes and powerful trot extensions were phenomenal and the transitions in direction in the half-pass were effortless.
Denielle Gallagher-Legriffon was fourth on a small but leggy black Russian stallion, Abrikos. This pair produced pirouettes with amazing elevation and rhythm, straight and technically correct 1x tempi changes, and wonderful transitions through all the gaits. Their stellar performance earned them 3rd place with 69.054%.
A resident of the US, Tina Konyot into 2nd place on her 11 year old Dutch Warmblood stallion Calecto V. The pair started strong with a near perfect transition from the halt to passage and they kept up the engagement during a phenomenal piaffe and the 2x tempi changes where the Calecto’s knees were sky high. Calecto V had amazing movement with a lot of impulsion and spring in his step. They earned a score of 69.65%.
Last but certainly not least was Ashley Holzer on her long time partner, a chestnut gelding, Pop Art. Their forte were the extensions in trot and canter as well as an amazing turn on the haunches during the piaffe which drew gasps and applause from the crowd. Holzer did not disappoint, having won the Grand Prix class earlier, and brought home 1st place with 75.85%.
Written by Inara Garrett. Photography by Jaye Tatone