Tuesday evening’s Royal Horse Show performance features the inaugural Dressage Derby, a new concept that will see four riders go head-to-head riding borrowed horses in a “knock-out” format. But first, Jacqueline Brooks (Jacquie), will retire her long-time partner, D Niro. Jacquie and the 19-year-old grey Swedish Warmblood gelding affectionately known as ‘Goose’ have represented Canada in international competition around the globe, including at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2013 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Jacquie explained the final performance of Goose’s Farewell Tour at The Royal:
“I’m here to retire my horse. He’s going to no longer be competitive with me as the rider. Whether he goes on and teaches a younger person to ride or not, I am no longer going to be competing with D-Niro as of tonight. It was a farewell tour and it was really fun. We did the last Florida CDI in Wellington, so all his fans that were in Florida celebrated. Then he did a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation at Polo for Heart, and a farewell performance at Palgrave in the summer. He didn’t compete, he just did a farewell demo and the same thing he’s doing at The Royal.
I just wanted to make sure that he hit the four spots he needed to hit so that everyone who wanted to see him could see him. It’s an all-star tour. With the freestyle at The Royal, I’m going to bookend his career. It will begin with his very first freestyle, Hallelujah, and will end with his last, Sound of Silence.”
Watch Jacquie and D-Niro’s Hallelujah Freestyle
Watch Jacquie and D-Niro’s Sound of Silence Freestyle
Jacquie and D-Niro’s freestyle will be followed by the Dressage Derby. Riders will have only minutes to get to know their mounts before entering the Coca-Cola Coliseum to perform their test. The winner of each “knock-out round” will move forward to a second round in the hopes of being crowned the Royal Dressage Derby Champion. Jacquie provided more details on the concept:
“The dressage derby is in a knock-out format. We have four riders: Adrienne Lyle, Esther Mortimer, Jamey Irwin and Tom Dvorak. A horse comes in that they have never ridden. They get on it, they have five minutes to get to know it in the warm-up ring. Then they ride a Prix St. George test. The girls are going to ride the same horse. It will be Esther riding, and then Adrienne riding, and then a new horse will come in and the boys will ride that horse. The winner of the girls’ duel, and the rider with the higher score in the boys’ duel, will move on to the final on a third horse.”
“The tests are judged normally. Cara Witham and Joan Macartney are the judges. And we have peer judges, Ashley Holzer and Pia Fortmuller. A peer judge is there to judge the harmony of the overall test between horse and rider. Then Brittany [Fraser-Beaulieu] comes in with All In and wows everybody with a huge freestyle, as the highest-placed Canadian at the FEI World Equestrian Games this year.
And then we have the final. A third horse comes in, one that nobody has ridden yet, a fresh horse. The winner of round one of girls vs the winner of round one of the boys will perform the final test. The higher score of those two rides wins the derby.”
New to The Royal
“The dressage derby has been around as a concept for years but not in a knock-out style. Even how WEG used to be determined in the jumpers with the final four, where the top four show jumpers rode each other’s horses. They’ve been some very famous derby, the Hamburg Derby in Germany, I think there was one in Aachen too. They were very prestigious to win. The top four in the CDI changed horses and rode the other three horses through a shortened Grand Prix. It was the same format but it wasn’t a knockout format. At the large tour there is an official derby in the CDI division. In the small tour, this is an adaptation. The first time I remembered it being done was in Wellington to replace the Palm Beach Derby.”
This is happening tonight at The Royal in Toronto. To watch it live or more information visit: royalfair.org/horseshow.html.