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Royal Winter Fair – An Extravaganza Like No Other

by Leeann Mione

TORONTO, Ontario, CAN – The Royal Winter Fair, billed as the largest indoor combined agricultural, horticultural, canine and equestrian event in the world, is truly an extravaganza. Toronto, well-known as the cultural, entertainment and financial capital of Canada, is certainly a fitting site for this show of shows.

Road horses, Hackney ponies and Hackney horses come from throughout the United States and Canada to show in front of huge crowds for more than a week. Competing for both Canadian championship titles and loads of cash in many cases, they share the stage with carriage classes, world class and Olympic show jumpers and even the Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol.

People come from all over the world to get a jumpstart on the holidays in Toronto and enjoy sightseeing, fine dining and over-the-top shopping, but it is the horse show that brings the finest equestrian talent to compete in this most prestigious of events.

This year Randy Harper, from Frickey Farms, and Melissa Moore, from Sunrise Stables, took on the task of judging. Harper judged the ponies and Hackney Horses and Moore judged the roadsters.

Friday evening, the Ontario Hackney Association sponsored an aisle party which drew a big crowd, but it wasn’t the only opportunity to socialize at the show. The hitching ring, which is surrounded by a restaurant, was transformed each evening into a nightclub for dancing and partying. The limited number of classes for the Hackneys and roadsters throughout the 10 day long Winter Fair meant there was plenty of time to socialize, shop or spend time enjoying the grand spectacle that is the Toronto Royal Winter Fair.

While outside the ring there was much to do and see, inside the ring world’s champions made their presence known and joined a stellar lineup of Hackneys and roadsters in the hunt for Canadian championship titles and loads of prize money.

The Green Roadster Classic Finals showcased 10 road horses hoping for a share of the $13,000 total prize money. Road Rage and Wayne Scharf topped off a great week in Toronto by heading to the winner’s circle and their share of the prize money. Red Heart and Don Heath were named the reserve champions after winning the section B qualifier. Autumn Winner and Sebastien Herbert won the first qualifying class for the green roadsters.

The Speed and Action Canadian Championship for the road horses offered a $5,000 payout and $1,600 for first prize. After winning the 13-entry over 15.2 qualifier, Road Rage and Scharf headed to the winner’s circle in the championship to add a third big win to their total. Midday Special and Sherri Archdekin took the reserve streamers in the championship after winning the 15.2 and under road horse class and added $1,000 to their prize money earned. Don Heath drove Red Heart to reserve in the over 15.2 class and Patriotic was reserve in the 13-entry 15.2 and under class. Owner Wayne Marshall drove to pick up the red ribbon.

Penny McKee drove The Two Of Spades to the blue ribbon in the Ladies Road Horse class for co-owner Alain Lavigne and topped five other teams for the blue. Lassy was reserve with owner Moree Thomas.

Switching gears and displaying their versatility, The Two Of Spades and McKee followed up a reserve in the 10-entry 15.2 and Under Roadster To Wagon class by heading to the winner’s circle in the Roadster To Wagon Canadian Championship over eight other speedsters. Kickalittle moved way up in the ribbons from the under two class to finish as the Canadian reserve grand champion with Derek Salisbury.

I’m Justa Kid and Minor Chevrier took the top prize in the over 15.2 class. They were followed in the ribbons by Drive Me Crazy and Martin Cordeau, who drove for Yannick AQF Morgans. Reiley won the 15.2 and under class with owner Moree Thomas in the wagon.

Larry Ella brought a top group of ponies to Toronto and they earned win after win including Fame & Fortune’s victory in the Roadster Pony Canadian Championship with Adam Bovaird. Their win in the eight-entry championship came after an impressive blue-ribbon performance in the 11-entry amateur class. BRS Marked To Be Bad and Clare Hayes finished as the roadster pony reserve grand champions.

My My Mr. American Pie and David Smith claimed the win in the 10-entry open road pony qualifier with David Smith driving. Don Heath continued a great week by piloting Mystic Presence to the red ribbon for Laurie Palmer and Joanne Heath.

Cirque Du Soleil, teamed with owner Paul Richardson, was the top pony in the Amateur Roadster Pony Championship for Richardson Stables after their reserve in the big amateur qualifier. Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon directed the winning team. Late-Nite’s Main Debut, owned by Roger Lucas, was reserve in the amateur championship with Edith Heath driving.

Maureen Lydon drove Heartland Carolee to the top of the class in the Junior Road Pony class for James Dellinger, and Mystic Presence picked up another reserve with Heath in the six-entry class.

Karen Waldron had a very successful week in Toronto with her horses and ponies from Bent Tree Farm. Sweetheart Of Success and Waldron paraded to center ring for the presentation in the Harness Pony Canadian Championship and were met by trainer Larry Ella. They had previously won the open class. Heartland’s Flight Time and Daniel Trudeau picked up both reserves for owner Donald Trudeau.

Edith Heath drove Namesake’s Secret to the win in the Ladies Harness Pony class for owner Dennis Koch. Dun-Haven Exquisite and Sharon Francis picked up the red ribbon under the direction of Rodney Hicks.

Remarkable won the six-entry Amateur Harness Pony class with Art Alderman driving for Jaftica Farm. Heartland Starry Skies was reserve with Kirk Douglas driving Lloyd Goth.


Heartland Beautiful Dreamer added another blue to the Majestic Oaks total when Maureen Lydon took the victory pass in the Junior Harness Pony class for Darrel and Sandy Kolkman. Truly Naughty By Nature, owned by Rick McQuown and driven by trainer Matt Schuckert, took the red streamers.

Karen Waldron claimed two more victories for Bent Tree Farm when On The Mark was named the Hackney Pony Canadian Grand Champion after winning the open class. Like Sweetheart Of Success, On The Mark earned Waldron another $1,600 for first place in Waldron’s second $5,000 championship victory. Fancy Ribbons and Marilyn Macfarlane picked up $1,000 for owner Randi Stuart Wightman with the reserve grand championship after earning the reserve in the open class.

Waldron wasn’t done winning yet at Toronto and she picked up another blue ribbon when Heartland Ooh La La was named the winner of the Ladies Hackney Pony class. Spats & Hats was reserve with Jennifer MacGregor driving for ABC Farms. Both ponies returned for the Amateur Hackney Pony Stake and joined six other competitive teams for the class. Waldron and Heartland Ooh La La took the tricolor for Bent Tree Farm. The Marksman and owner Marjorie Kenney claimed the reserve grand championship title from Rodney Hicks Stables.

Seamair’s Simply Awesome and Sharon Lewis topped a pair of entries to win the Junior Hackney Pony class and add another win to the Majestic Oaks total. The Marksman and Kenney added another reserve to their total when they were named the reserve champions.

The junior exhibitors faced a big competitive group of 11 in their championship class and it was Spats & Hats named as the grand champion with Taylor Olvey driving. Country Road’s Phantom and Devon Morrow were selected as the reserve grand champions for co-owners Don and Devon Morrow.

Morrow also won the Hackney Pony Junior Showmanship class which featured eight ponies. High Horizon’s Star Dust and Matthew Wilson finished in the reserve spot.

Janet Hicks drove Miss Excellence to the Hackney/Harness Pleasure Driving Canadian Championship which featured a ring full of top ponies competing. Super Spy and Shannon Ella took the reserve streamers in the championship after being named the reserve champions in the junior exhibitor class. Crystal Creek’s Starlet won the pleasure driving adult qualifier, edging out Hicks and Miss Excellence. Sizzling Hot won the junior exhibitor class and put Devon Morrow in the winner’s circle yet again.

The Royal Winter Fair is one of Canada’s most prestigious events for Hackney ponies and road horses but it is the premier event for Hackney Horses from the U.S. and Canada.

The Hackney Horse World Grand Championship featured eight high-stepping entries with first place earning $1,600. Matt Schuckert took the winning drive with Halstead’s Viking and headed to center ring for the presentation and blanket of flowers. Schuckert drove for owner Melbern Byler to the world grand championship title. Open class winner First Impression and Art Alderman left the ring with the reserve world grand championship and Canada’s Pride was third with Helen Thomas. Dennis Alderman drove Maple Hill’s Impeccable to fourth. Halton’s Irish Lad and Faith Kent-Robillard, Co Co Chanel and John Fullerton, Patton with Don Morrow and open reserve champion Chambord D’Artagnon with Geof Dixon rounded out the ribbon count.

Karen Waldron continued her great show at Royal Winter Fair with a sweep of the amateur Hackney horse division with Heartland Blizzard. Waldron took the victory pass in the Amateur Hackney Horse Championship and even larger amateur qualifier to add two more winning ribbons to the Bent Tree Farm total.

First Impression with Art Alderman exited the ring with the reserve tricolor in the amateur championship and Patton was reserve in the qualifier with Don Morrow driving. Shelburne won the Junior Hackney Horse class with Karen Waldron driving. Heatherstone Lady Katherine earned the red ribbon with Lee Swallow driving for Kathryn Newbigging.

The scope and grandeur of the Royal Winter Fair seems to make it a fitting place for the grandeur of the coaching competition and both Marilyn Macfarlane and Misdee Wrigley went home with several wins and reserves by the time competition ended.

Macfarlane drove her four-in-hand to the blue ribbon in the Green Meadows class and topped five other entries. Wrigley and her hitch claimed the reserve title for Hillcroft Farm. Macfarlane left the ring with the red ribbon in the Green Meadows Four-In-Hand Pleasure class which featured six entries competing. Wrigley headed to the winner’s circle in the Green Meadows appointments class, and finished in second place in the Green Meadows class for unicorn hitches. Ronald Palmer drove his team of three to the blue ribbon in the unicorn class.

Jack Braithwaite drove Dr. G. R. Cormack’s hitch to the win in the Four-In-Hand Coaching Performance class and was followed in the ribbons by Marilyn Macfarlane and her four-horse hitch of Friesians.

Harvey Waller drove to the blue ribbon in the Four-In-Hand Coaching Pleasure class and Braithwaite took the red ribbon for Cormack.

This highlights the competition at the Toronto Royal Winter Fair Horse Show. Complete results can be seen and searched by clicking here.


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