Articles: Press Release
Ashley Holzer and Pop Art Win $25,000 Washington International Horse
Show Invitational Dressage Championship
Ashley Holzer and Pop Art Win $25,000 WIHS Invitational
Dressage Championship. Photo Credit: Diana De Rosa.
Phelps Media Group, Inc.
Mary Hilton for Phelps Media Group, Inc., International
at (561) 753-3389 or at email@example.com
Washington, D.C. - October 27, 2006 - Ashley Holzer of New York, New
York, aboard Pop Art wowed the crowd and the judges with their Grand
Prix Freestyle tonight at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. to win
the class with a score of 72.565%, which when added to her second place
score last night of 67.813% in the Grand Prix, gave her a total overall
mark of 70.189% and victory in the $25,000 Washington International
Horse Show Invitational Dressage Championship. As winner of the event,
Holzer takes home $10,000 in prize money.
Holzer, 43, a Toronto native who has represented Canada at two Olympic
Games, two World Equestrian Games, and two Pan American Games, came into
this competition as the defending champion, having won it last year with
the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Gambol. Pop Art is a
nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Holzer and Ian Nicoll,
her father, who made his Grand Prix debut at this championship event.
Mr. Nicoll attended the show and watched his horse win the Invitational
Tonight, Holzer rode a freestyle to Irish-inspired music track created
by Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage, based on music from the
theatrical show Riverdance. Though Pop Art started his test showing some
tension, he relaxed as he performed the movements, especially his
precision piaffe and passage, which he nailed dead on to the music.
Holzer included movements that elicited applause from the crowd several
times, such as a machine-like piaffe that burst into an energetic
The freestyle also showed how creative and clever Holzer is as a rider.
As this was Pop Art's first Grand Prix Freestyle, Holzer acknowledged
that she had to "wing it" during some of the ride. "I did a little
adlibbing in there because he was very nervous," Holzer explained and
added that because Pop Art is so young, she did not want to over-face
him. "Normally the freestyle is pretty difficult and he was worried in
the beginning. I took him off the pattern and then he was normal and he
really settled in. He's a fabulous horse to ride. I'm very lucky to have
him. He's just Mr. Dependable. He's never bad. He was just looking at
the crowd. He's never seen anything like this, so to get him to turn
around today and do what he did, I'm thrilled."
Courtney King, 28, of New Milford, Connecticut, riding Idocus owned by
Christine McCarthy earned 70.00% in tonight's freestyle competition to
place third, and combined with her winning Grand Prix score last night
of 68.854%, she finished in second place overall with a combined score
of 69.427%. King takes home $7,500 in prize money.
King rode to a medley of show tunes, a track originally created for one
of Lendon Gray's Grand Prix horses in the 1970s. King admitted that she
was not pleased with her freestyle tonight. "He just felt like he was a
little bit more tired than yesterday and had a couple of mistakes," King
explained. "It just wasn't the best ride I could have." King noted that
she is in the midst of creating a new freestyle for the seasoned
16-year-old Dutch stallion. "This freestyle was not made for him and I
really feel like with all the work that I tried to put into making it
work, it's still just doesn't work."
But overall, King was positive about capturing second place in the
highly competitive invitational championship. "It feels great. I think
tomorrow I'll be much happier," King smiled. "Like any athlete you
always think about what you could have done better and that's a little
bit how I came away tonight, just thinking about how I could have made
it better." King noted that she was very pleased to have competed
against the caliber of riders in the event, and described the two-night
indoor contest, which is held in conjunction with hunter/jumper,
Western, and sidesaddle competition, by saying, "It's fantastic, totally
Suzanne Dansby-Phelps of Atlanta, Georgia, with her own Cooper earned a
score of 70.94% for their wonderful freestyle to Irish music and placed
second tonight. Combined with their third place finish of 66.250% in the
Grand Prix, this duo finished third overall with a score 68.595%.
Dansby-Phelps earned $5,000 from the purse.
"In both rides Cooper schooled very, very well," Dansby-Phelps said. "He
was very through and light, he exhibited all the qualities one could ask
for in a dressage horse." Cooper is an 18.3-hand, 14-year-old Holsteiner
gelding by Corialle by Cor de la Bryere out of a dam by Wanderin II by
Ladykiller that Dansby-Phelps has been riding for four years.
The crowd was very appreciative of Dansby-Phelp's freestyle, and burst
into applause during her ride several times, including her well-executed
double pirouettes and her exuberant one-tempis. Her soundtrack and
choreography were created by Terry Ciotti Gallo and included "Scotland
the Brave" and other music from the choreographers of the Irish theater
show Riverdance. Dansby-Phelps has been performing this kur for three
years and tonight was the last night she will ride it as she is
currently composing a new freestyle track and choreography.
Dansby-Phelps was an alternate for the U.S. 2006 World Equestrian Games
Dressage Team and trained this summer with U.S. Dressage Coach Klaus
Balkenhol. She also trains several times a year with Conrad Schumacher
in the U.S. and Germany. She hopes to qualify to compete in the 2007
World Cup Final in Las Vegas in April.
George Williams of Delaware, Ohio, aboard Marnix owned by Chuck and
Joann Smith scored 68.50% for their freestyle to a medley of Cher
classics to place fourth tonight and added to their fourth place score
of 64.063% last night in the Grand Prix, the duo finished fourth overall
with a score of 66.282%. Williams earned $2,500 for his performances.
The dance tunes were crowd pleasers, and Williams liked his ride as
well. "I was really happy with it," Williams said. "It was wonderful to
be invited. One of the reasons I wanted to come is just to expose Marnix
to this indoor environment. He's little bit of a high-strung, tense
horse and I just try to expose him to as many things as possible to help
him mature. I was really pleased with how he handled tonight."
Williams trains Laura Noyes and Syncro, the Young Rider who will
represent the U.S. at the FEI Young Rider World Cup in Frankfurt,
Germany, in December, and noted his gratitude to the Washington show for
allowing her to ride her freestyle in exhibition last night. "It's
perfect exposure for her and her horse, this indoor stadium environment.
You can't duplicate that experience without actually being in a
stadium," he pointed out. He also noted what a benefit it is to the
Grand Prix riders in order to prepare for indoor competition at the
winter European shows.
Overall, Williams was pleased with the entire experience of the WIHS
Invitational Dressage Championship. "It's been wonderful. I really
enjoyed it," Williams enthused. They have made the dressage riders feel
Officiating on both nights were two international judges. Tonight, USA
judge Gary Rockwell of Wellington, Florida, officiated at C and Peru's
Marian Cunningham of Middleburg, Virginia, judged from E.
Judge Cunningham summed up the $25,000 Washington International Horse
Show Invitational Dressage Championship, saying, "It's great. I'm glad
that they're doing it."
Judge Rockwell gave his overall impression of the 2006 WIHS Invitational
Dressage Champion Ashley Holzer and Pop Art, pointing out first that it
was the youngster's inaugural Grand Prix. "From here she's going to
build because first year Grand Prix is always rough around the edges,"
Rockwell said. "It's a spectacular horse!"