Top Riders Ready for International Show Jumping Competition at 2015 Royal Horse Show®

TORONTO, Oct. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - Downtown Toronto will host some of the world's most decorated equestrian athletes – both two-legged and four – during the 2015 Royal Horse Show, which runs November 6 to 15 as part of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at Exhibition Place.  International show jumpers from five different countries will converge in Toronto for top-level competition, highlighted by the $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto as part of the newly founded FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League.

Show jumping action kicks off at the national level with the $100,000 Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships during opening weekend, November 6 and 7.  Twenty-five Canadian riders, including Olympians Lisa Carlsen, Mac Cone, Jill Henselwood, Beth Underhill and defending champion Ian Millar will vie for the coveted national title.

The highlight event of the international division takes place Wednesday, November 12, when the Royal Horse Show hosts the $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto.  One of only four Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping events to be held on Canadian soil, the competition is a qualifying event for the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Goteborg, Sweden.

Friday, November 13 will showcase the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open, while Saturday afternoon brings family-friendly fun with horses and dogs teaming up for the $15,000 International Canine/Equine Challenge, presented by The Toronto Star.  The 2015 Royal Horse Show closes out with the $75,000 Big Ben International Challenge, presented by Hudson's Bay Company, on Saturday night, November 14.

Eight riders from the United States have been invited to travel to the Royal Horse Show.  Most notably, two-time Olympic gold medalist Mclain Ward of Brewster, NY, is eyeing his third win in a row in Wednesday night's featured grand prix event.  Ward has won the grand prix at the Royal Horse Show six times and is the defending champion from both 2013 and 2014.

"The Royal is a first-class, traditional event in a beautiful city," said Ward, who recently claimed the individual gold medal riding Rothchild at the TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games.  "The Royal always has a packed house, making the atmosphere great.  You need an experienced horse that handles that situation well."

This year, Ward plans to defend his title riding HH Azur, an up-and-coming superstar owned by Double H Farm.  The pair recently competed at the mare's first indoor event at the Los Angeles Masters, where Ward characterized her performance as "phenomenal", and Ward is confident in their chances at the Royal Horse Show.

"The presence of FEI competition in North America has been transforming over the last few years and it's in a better place now," said Ward of the Royal Horse Show's inclusion in the new Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League.  "It's always an asset to have more World Cup qualifiers, and this league has certainly been competitive."

Ward will be joined at the Royal Horse Show by fellow Americans Georgina Bloomberg, Leslie Howard, Charlie Jacobs, Reed Kessler, Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden, and Todd Minikus.

Rounding out the international field participating at the Royal Horse Show will be eight riders representing Belgium, Colombia, Ireland and New Zealand.  Coming off a recent string of impressive wins, Ireland's Conor Swail will return to the Royal Horse Show as a hot favourite.

"The Royal has always been a lucky show for me," said Swail.  "Every time I go there I have good success, but I also love the prestige and the huge crowds that come with the show.  It's extremely fun."

Dermott Lennon will join Swail in representing Ireland.  Twins Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts and Francois Mathy Jr. will represent Belgium, while Daniel Bluman and Roberto Teran will be flying the Colombian flag.  New Zealand's Sharn Wordley will be making his Royal Horse Show debut.

For more information on the Royal Horse Show, the marquee event of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, please visit http://www.royalfair.org/horse-show.

To purchase Royal Horse Show tickets, please visit Ticketmaster at http://www.ticketmaster.ca/venueartist/131553/986584.

Funding support for The Royal has been provided by the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario.

SOURCE Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Image with caption: "Two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Mclain Ward, pictured riding Rothchild, will be back to defend his grand prix title at the 2015 Royal Horse Show running November 6-15 at Exhibition Place in Toronto, ON. Photo credit - Ben Radvanyi Photography (CNW Group/Royal Agricultural Winter Fair)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151024_C6342_PHOTO_EN_528405.jpg

For further information: Jennifer Ward, Jump Media, Cell: (613) 292-5439, jward@jumpmediallc.com

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http://www.royalfair.org

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