USA’s Ashley Holzer In First Show on Havanna in 8 Months Wins Wellington CDI3* Freestyle, Three Combinations She Coaches Capture Day’s Other Three Big Tour Competitions

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Ashley Holzer on Havanna riding to victory in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle in Friday Nigh under Lights to wrap up 12-week Florida circuit. © 2019 Ken Braddick/


WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 29, 2019–Ashley Holzer riding Havanna in the first show in eight months won the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle in a finale of the 2019 Adequan Global Dressage circuit the Olympic rider dominated with two other American and a Canadian combination she coaches capturing the three other Big Tour competitions of the day.

In the Friday Night Under Lights musical performance before a crowd that packed the spectator stands and the VIP pavilion, Ashley and the 12-year-old Hanoverian mare were awarded 76.995 per cent for the win that came after two years since switching to ride for the United States instead of her homeland of Canada. The last show for the pair was last July at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany before medical issues kept Havanna out of the competition arena.

She debuted a new freestyle by Tom Hunt, who creates the musical rides for Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, including the Olympic and other championship gold medal performances on the superstar Valegro.

Heather Blitz of Wellington in the first freestyle for Semper Fidelis since beginning Big Tour competition this year placed second on 76.705 per cent. Fellow American Anna Marek on Dee Clair was third on 71.650 per cent.

Heather Blitz competing Semper Fidelis in their first Freestyle to place second in the Global Dressage Festival CDI3* Grand Prix. © 2019 Ken Braddick/

Katherine Bateson Chandler of Wellington on Alcazar won the CDI4* Freestyle that was the feature of the Friday Night Lights on a score of 75.850 per cent with Michael Klimke of Germany on Royal Dancer second on 73.300 per cent and America’s Karen Lipp on Whitney third on 71.875 per cent.

Katherine is coached by Ashley in Wellington and by Carl Hester over the summer in England.

Katherine Bateson Chandler on Alcazar enjoying the spotlight after winning the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2019 Ken Braddick/

Earlier in the day, P.J. Rizvi of Greenwich, Connecticut on Breaking Dawn won the CDI3* Grand Prix Special and Canada’s Jill Irving on Degas took the CDI4* Special. Both are coached by Ashley, who rode Breaking Dawn at the 2012 Olympics for Canada.

Ashley, now based in Wellington, said that she thought Havanna since being acquired by Diane Fellowes from German team rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was not hot enough.

This year, Ashley said, turned out differently.

“I was honestly a little bit concerned because she (Havanna) was very hot,” said Ashley who competed in four Olympics and three World Equestrian Games for Canada and since riding for the USA has beased herself in Wellington. “I’ve been coming out in the mornings when it’s been really early with some anticipation of her being a little worried with the crowd because she has not done this in a long time. She was hot but we got through it. The degree of difficulty is extremely hard. I kept saying, ‘come on mare work with me.’ And she kept trying her best so I was pretty thrilled. It’s a big atmosphere and they need to learn how to cope. I’m very happy that she was able to settle.”

Ashley’s hopes of being named to the U.S. squad to go to Europe in the summer may have dimmed as she has not been able to compete her three Grand Prix mounts because of health issues during the three-month Global circuit. She hankers for the top sport competition and atmosphere that is available only at Global in the Americas and in Europe.

She has, however, been outstanding on Valentine, her Small Tour horse that is a leading contender for the the U.S. team for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru in July.

“I have to keep thinking she’s (Havanna) really only 12 and hasn’t had that much time,” Ashley said of Havanna “You’re up against 16, 17, 18 year-old horses that are really seasoned competitors out their that know their job. Again, she can be hot.

“The funny thing when I got her her she was not hot and I used to wish she was and Diane (Fellows, the owner) said to me, ‘Be careful what you wish for’.”

Her husband, Rusty Holzer, an accomplished jumper rider and successful businessman, described the performance as “a nice ending to a new beginning.” And said, Ashley, “that’s exactly what it was.”


CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle
Judges: Ulrike Nivelle Jane Weatherwax Stephen Clarke Lee Tubman Annette Fransen Iacobaeus
Place Score Nation Athlete Horse E H C M B Spectators
1. 76.995 USA Ashley Holzer Havanna 145 73.975 75.500 78.900 79.925 76.675 72.482 (3)
2. 76.705 USA Heather Blitz Semper Fidelis 75.750 77.375 78.800 75.450 76.150 75.922 (1)
3. 71.650 USA Anna Marek Dee Clair 71.625 71.050 72.325 72.325 70.925 69.609 (4)
4. 69.075 USA Stacy Parvey-Larsson Benidetto 69.200 70.450 66.675 68.550 70.500 73.875 (2)
5. 66.440 USA Nicole Harrington Wizard Of Oz 63.925 64.350 67.450 67.175 69.300 68.900 (5)
6. 65.275 SUI Franziska Seidl Romano K 66.425 65.425 64.775 65.000 64.750 64.029 (8)
7. 65.145 USA Jacqueline MacDonald Cuddy Malcarat 65.325 67.175 62.475 66.875 63.875 64.921 (7)
8. 63.715 USA Heather Boo Divertimento 63.400 63.725 63.850 64.875 62.725 65.143 (6)
CDI4* Grand Prix Freestyle
Judges: Annette Fransen Iacobaeus Stephen Clarke Jane Weatherwax Lee Tubman Yuri Romanov
Place Score Nation Athlete Horse E H C M B Spectators
1. 75.850 USA Katherine Bateson Chandler Alcazar 75.100 77.000 75.250 75.375 76.525 74.900 (2)
2. 73.300 GER Michael Klimke Royal Dancer 33 73.400 72.750 73.150 71.750 75.450 73.750 (3)
3. 71.875 USA Karen Lipp Whitney 71.650 72.425 70.125 72.275 72.900 73.125 (4)
4. 71.235 USA Jessica Kozel Denzello 70.925 71.150 70.625 70.400 73.075 75.125 (1)
5. 68.570 CAN Evi Strasser Disney Tyme 66.175 70.100 68.300 67.925 70.350 69.143 (5)