“It’s absolutely amazing jumping in the venue that I call home,” said Martin after their victory lap.
Toronto, ON, Nov. 12, 2023 – On the second last day of the Royal Horse Show at the 101th anniversary of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, 17-year-old William Martin of Vineland, ON, was crowned the $12,500 U25 National Champion.
The competition, sponsored by the Uplands Charitable Foundation in memory of Alfred Rogers, was contested over two days. With the only clear round during the second phase, the duo of Martin and 18-year-old Selle Français gelding Ricore Courcelle (Quaprice Bois Margot x Alme) owned by Lesley Martin, finished on top and were named Canada’s U25 champions for 2023
Martin and Ricore were the pair to beat over the two days of competition and were the only double clear in the multi-phased competition. Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley
During Saturday’s Horse Show, a total of 11 athletes under the age of 25 who had qualified to ride from across Canada and the United States came back to compete for top honours at the series finale in front of a packed house in the Coca-Cola Coliseum. The athletes brought their scores forward from Thursday’s competition, where the first-day scores would be added to the final day to determine the overall winner.
In Phase 1 against the clock earlier this week, Martin took the win with a lightning-fast clean speed round in 53.40 seconds over course designer Kelvin Bywater (GBR)’s 13 jumping efforts. For Phase 2, the combinations entered the ring in reverse order of merit to contest Bywater’s next challenging course, with plenty to take on including 15 jumping efforts over 12 jumps set at 1.45m, in a time allowed of 73 seconds.
The round proved challenging for the field with no clears in the first ten competitors and Virginia Bonnie and Efodea bringing forward a single time fault. When it was Martin’s turn to enter the ring, the pressure was on to jump clear as if they were able to do so, they would take the win and the jump off would not be required.
The pair were foot perfect and just fast enough, finishing with a clear round under the clock in a time of 72.90, and miraculously with only one stirrup! Being double clear over the two phases, Martin won the second day’s event and was crowned the winner of the U25 National Championship. For their efforts, a tie was broken from the two days of competition and Bonnie and Efodea were crowned Reserve Champions.
Losing his stirrup at the second jump, Martin was able to rely on his equitation skills and jump the remainder of the course just as well as he would have with two feet in the irons. Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley
“It’s absolutely amazing jumping in the venue that I call home,” said Martin after their victory lap. “I live near here so it’s always gonna be home for me and winning championships here just feels amazing.”
When asked about the horse and rider combination, the pair’s coach Andrew Bourns sees great things. “He (Ricore) really responds well to an occasion, and Will obviously does as well. In the young rider championships this year he was individual bronze, and he won a team gold for Canada,” he said speaking of the medals they picked up with the North American Youth Championships in Traverse City, MI this past summer. “So, this is kind of tops off the year for both of them, and I think it’s a sign of a very bright and fruitful future.”
Martin & Ricore make their way around the Coca-Cola Coliseum in front of a crowd of over 5,000 people. Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley
Although he has a string of younger horses he’s bringing along, Martin has relied on Ricore on more occasions than one, and Bourns has seen amazing things from the pair and knew today would be another one of those days. “You can’t beat the old guy. You know just helping him (Martin) along it is fantastic, it’s really wonderful to watch because the horse loves the boy, they work well together, and he loves the horse.”
Martin agrees wholeheartedly. “He's a spectacular horse. He's going to be a horse that I'm always going to remember. He's been a good horse for me, and he’s been a great trainer. I find the rounds that matter the most are when he shows up and jumps clear and it's definitely a bond that is very special.”
With this big win, and the Royal Horse Show almost complete, the pair are planning to head back south to Wellington, FL where they are based for the winter. The team is going to make their plan for the coming year and set their sights on developing some of their younger horses and come back again next year.
As one to watch, we’re pretty sure this is just the beginning of many more wins for the young Martin.
The U25 series is part of the Young Riders Development Program, which was spearheaded by the EC Jumping Committee to help increase participation and improve performance at the FEI Children, Junior and Young Rider levels. By providing youth with a pathway to become involved in the sport of jumping from an earlier age, the Jumping Committee is paving the way for a strong pool of future Canadian Equestrian Team athletes to represent Canada on the world stage. More information on the U25 series can be found at www.equestrian.ca/sport/jumping/athlete-development
For full results from the 2023 U25 Jumping National Championship, visit the U25 Results Page.