Canadian Pan Am team rider Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu made her show debut on Jill Irving's Soccer City at the 2018 CDN Wellington on Saturday 27 January 2018.
The brand new Canadian duo won the national Prix St Georges with a whopping 78.824% in a field of 10 competitors. They edged out Canadian Shannon Dueck on Sally Alksnis' 12-year old British Sport Horse gelding Allegro II (by Negretto x Grannex), who finished second with 77.794%.
Soccer City is an 11-year old Oldenburg gelding by Sir Donnerhall x Weltmeyer.
Robert and Jill Irving acquired the horse at the 2010 PSI Auction for an auction price of 250,000 euro. He was first trained and competed by Canadian Christilot Boylen, before Irving took over in 2017.
With Jill's focus fully on her two Grand Prix horses Degas and Arthur, she decided to ask Brittany Fraser to ride Soccer City.
When asked why Irving is not riding Soccer City herself, she joked "I'm lazy." To Eurodressage, Irving explained that "Brittany and I are great friends as you know and she only has one horse to show CDI, so I thought it would be great for her to have another ride. It's important to me to give Canadian riders opportunities and it's more satisfying to do for a friend."
Both riders are trained by Canadian born and multiple Olympian Ashley Holzer, who is based in New York City, U.S.A in summers and Wellington, Florida, in winters.
"Brit and I both train with Ashley," Jill explained. "It's easy when we are "All In" the same program. Brit will often ride my horses if I'm away or when Ash is."
In 2015 Irving established the Canadian Youth Equestrian Mentorship Program. It is designed to inspire Canadian equestrians between the ages of 16 and 21 by offering them educational opportunities in Wellington, FL, widely considered to be the winter equestrian epicenter for both international dressage and hunter/jumper competition.
"I truly believe high performance athletes should give back," said Jill. "For the past two years we have been bringing grass roots dressage riders from Canada to Wellington to experience dressage at its finest. We have now added jump riders this season."
Photos © Astrid Appels