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Ashley Holzer Tops the Grand Prix at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby

17 Olympians Honored During Olympic Tribute

Loxahatchee, FL— Ashley Holzer topped the CDI Grand Prix at the 25th annual Phelpssports.com Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W/Y in Loxahatchee. The CDI Grand Prix had nearly 50 entries, making it the largest Grand Prix held outside of Europe. In addition to featuring a sold-out CDI dressage show with the largest number of entries on record, the 25th anniversary celebrations have included an art show reception and Saturday’s Olympic Tribute that honored 17 Olympic riders.

“We are pleased to be able to honor so many Olympic riders,” said Executive Director Mary Anne McPhail. “The Derby has a rich Olympic history and this was a wonderful way to acknowledge so many fantastic athletes.” Riders from five countries were acknowledged not just for their Olympic riding, but their overall contributions to equestrian sport. The Olympic riders honored in the tribute included Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer; Colombian Cesar Parra; Danes Bent Jensen and Lars Petersen; German Olympian Klaus Balkenhol; United States riders Robert Dover; Lendon Gray; Michelle Gibson; Carol Lavell; Dorothy Morkis; Karen O’ Connor; Mason Phelps; Michael Poulin; Jessica Ransehousen; Lisa Wilcox and Linda Zang. Each Olympian was presented with a bouquet of flowers by McPhail and show manager Evelyn O’Sullivan as hundreds of fans looked on and took photos of this historic moment.

Ashley Holzer not only earned the blue ribbon with a score of 73.083%, but also her Olympic qualifying scores with her 11 year old KWPN gelding Pop Art by Amsterdam. “This horse is an unbelievable horse,” she said. “He’s becoming that really big Grand Prix horse.” Holzer has been carefully preparing Pop Art and plans to “be a little careful” now that they have qualified for the Olympics.

Courtney King finished second with Christine McCarthy’s Idocus. The 18-year-old KWPN stallion by Equador looked fresh and fit as he and King received a 72.0%. “I was really happy,” King said. She was especially pleased with Idocus’ piaffe, which she described as honest. King will compete in Sunday’s Grand Prix Freestyle with the goal of earning her qualifying scores for the World Cup Final.

Jane Hannigan and Maksymillian received a 68.458% for the yellow ribbon in the CDI Grand Prix. The 14-year-old KWPN gelding has been partnered with Hannigan for seven years. Hannigan’s favorite work with Mak is the flying changes. “They are so fun. His extended trot is my other favorite movement,” she said.

The show’s record entries meant that dressage spectators were able to watch round after round of fantastic sport with some of the best horses and riders in North America. Fan favorite Rocher, with George Williams in the saddle, had a wonderful warm-up and was poised to enter the ring when the black mare bit her lip at the last minute and was unable to show. Sunday will continue with more great dressage and the musical freestyles.

About the Palm Beach Derby

The Palm Beach Dressage Derby is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. The show attracts the best riders from around the globe, including Betsy Steiner, Leslie Morse, Robert Dover, Cesar Parra, Lars Peterson, Arlene Page, Ashley Holzer and many more of the Who’s Who of the dressage world. The PhelpsSports.com Palm Beach Dressage Derby is the main event in a two-show series that includes Dressage at Equestrian Estates in April as well as educational programs.

PHOTO: Canadian Olympic medalist Ashley Holzer won the largest Grand Prix in North American history when she claimed the CDI Grand Prix at the Phelpssports.com Palm Beach Dressage Derby.

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