Veronica Bot of Burlington, ON, earned a victory in the $10,000 McKee-Pownall Equine Services Junior/Amateur Jumper Royal Stake on Sunday, November 6 at the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 94th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, which runs through November 13 in Toronto, ON.
Bot claimed the Canadian Equestrian Team Challenge Trophy for the win riding Quidam's Caprice M, a grey Oldenburg mare owned by AEI Corp. Bot and her mount posted the only clear round in a five-horse jump-off to best an original order of 19 horses from five different Canadian provinces over tracks built by course designer Bernardo Cabral of Portugal.
"It really surprised me that we qualified, so I am really excited," said Bot, 20, who trains with Chris Delia of Burlington, ON. "I had some issues with this horse at the start of the season, so the fact that we could put it together in the last class and win is the most exciting thing ever."
Bot was the only rider to jump clear over the short course, and she posted the fastest time in 36.06 seconds. Carolyn Catton of Toronto, ON, finished second riding her own Scandalous after a four-fault jump-off round in 38.19 seconds. Jennifer Buchan of Toronto, ON, and her own Qrishna van de Smiss Z, also picked up four faults to finish third in 38.44 seconds, while Jeff Brandmaier of Guelph, ON, pulled two rails in 39.86 seconds to take fourth riding Caliana for Knightwood Stables. Christine Carlsen of North York, ON, rounded out the top five on Cardoso, owned by Valhalla Equestrian, with eight faults in 41.53 seconds.
Brandmaier's top-five finish on Sunday helped him and Caliana secure the division championship after second and third-place ribbons earlier in the week, while Susan Horn of Bolton, ON, was named reserve champion after collecting first and fourth-place ribbons on Friday and Saturday.
Bot partnered with Quidam's Caprice M less than a year ago, and the mount introduced her to a new kind of ride.
"She's a very sensitive, hot mare, and I wasn't used to riding that kind of horse," said Bot, who also won the junior/amateur jumper final in 2014 with her own Calato's Charles. "It took me awhile to figure out how to ride her and how to use my body effectively on her. To finally figure it out has been such a rewarding experience, and it really showed today when we won the class."
Bot splits her time between riding and studying medical physics at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, but she makes competing at the Royal Horse Show a priority.
"It's a huge sentimental experience," said Bot who hopes to move Quidam's Caprice M up to the FEI division in 2017. "The first time that I came was two years ago, and to win this class both times is really exciting."
$5,000 Royal Pony Jumper Final, presented by Marbill Hill Farm
Pony riders and their pint-sized partners also highlighted jumper action on Sunday with hometown girl Laura Robertson of Toronto, ON, racing to win the $5,000 Royal Pony Jumper Final riding Bloomsbury. The victory marked Robertson's second win in a row in the Royal Pony Jumper Final, presented by William Tilford and Marion Cunningham of Marbill Hill Farm in Toronto, ON.
Robertson, 17, secured her repeat win with new mount Bloomsbury, an 11-year-old chestnut mare owned by Katie Bowering. Despite a partnership that only began earlier this year, the pair topped a two-horse jump-off duel. Although they had a rail down, Robertson and Bloomsbury stopped the clock in 28.02 seconds to ultimately win after Grace Munro of Wolfville, NS, and her own Ever So Clever picked up eight faults in 25.79 seconds. Coupled with her second-place finish, Munro won the other two classes in the division to be named champion in the pony jumper division, while Kilby Brunner Deforest of Hillsburgh, ON, and Beaverwood's Cinnamon, owned by Kirsten Brunner, claimed reserve.
Emily Burton of St. Thomas, ON, rode her own Montreux to third after a rail in the first round kept them from the jump-off. Ella Marquis of Caledon, ON, piloted Foxy Cleopatra, owned by Mark Marquis, to a four-fault round for fourth, and Kaitlin Davis of Georgetown, ON, took fifth aboard her own Bold Ambition, also with four faults.
"This is the second year I've done pony jumpers and my first full season on a completely new pony to the jumper scene," said Robertson who leased Bloomsbury under the direction of trainer Domonique Maida of King City, ON. "She was a backyard pony, and her owner called my coach saying she had a pony she wanted to find someone for. We tried her and took her the same day."
"She's sassy and definitely has a personality, but she is the sweetest pony and is a lot of fun," continued Robertson, 17.
As she moves on from the pony ranks, Robertson who is in grade 12 at Richview Collegiate Institute in Toronto, ON, already has her sights set on returning to The Royal Horse Show in 2017, saying, "I have come to The Royal every year since before I can remember, and I remember looking out at that ring, seeing all these amazing riders, and saying that one day I would be out there. To be here is a pretty incredible feeling and a great experience."
Jumper competition returns to the Royal Horse Show when the international division kicks off on Tuesday, November 8, welcoming the best horses and riders in the world. The $130,500 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto on Wednesday evening, November 9, highlights international show jumping competition and is a qualifying event for the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Omaha, Nebraska, next spring.
Rio Olympic champions Nick Skelton and Big Star of Great Britain headline the list of international entries, which also includes Kent Farrington and McLain Ward, who were both members of the U.S. Olympic silver medal team in Rio, as well as 2016 Olympic bronze medalists for Canada, Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, BC, and Amy Millar of Perth, ON.
Darcy Hayes of Aurora, ON, and Say When won the $15,000 Braeburn Farms Hunter Derby on Sunday, November 6, at the Royal Horse Show, held as part of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.
The top 12 horses in the Canadian Hunter Derby Series, held throughout the season at competitions across the country, as well as four wild card entries contested Sunday afternoon's class in the Ricoh Coliseum. Hayes and Say When entered The Royal as the leader in the points standings, giving them the advantage of going last in Sunday's competition.
Riding over a course of natural obstacles designed by J.P. Godard of Aiken, SC, Hayes and Say When, owned by Danielle Trudell-Baran, earned a score of 90. Judges Brian Lenehan of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, and Steve Wall of Pinehurst, NC, also awarded ten bonus points to Hayes for utilizing all five of the high options as well as eight handy bonus points, giving her the win with an overall score of 108.
"It's always great to win at The Royal," said Hayes. "Everybody's here and it's the crème de la crème of Canada. It's always nice to put ribbons on the banner here at The Royal. Everybody's goal is to get here all year long, and to be successful when we get here."
Junior competitor Sam Walker, 14, of Nobleton, ON, riding Heavenly, owned by Marion Cunningham, placed second with an overall score of 100, while Hayes also took third with a final score of 99 points riding Crush for owner Cawthra Burns.
Hayes's daughter, Quincy Hayes, took fourth place riding Posh, also owned by Burns. Walker also placed fifth, this time aboard Miracle, owned by Cunningham.
Hayes has been riding Say When for four years, with 2016 marking her third win at The Royal with the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
"He's an amazing horse," said Hayes, who guided Say When to a second place finish in the $50,000 International Hunter Derby at the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. "He's probably the nicest horse I've ever ridden. This is the only class he's done here, and he walks right in the ring like it's nothing. He shows up to work, and he always does his best."
Hunter Derby competition continues Tuesday, November 8, at 7 p.m. with the $25,000 Knightwood Hunter Derby. Following Tuesday's night's competition, the winner will be presented with the Lorna Jean Guthrie Challenge Trophy for the Canadian Hunter Derby Champion.