Canadian Olympic Team Prospect Chris von Martels Rides Eclips to Victory at Florida National Show in First Competition in 8 Months

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Chris von Martels and Eclips. File photo. © 2020 SusanJStickle.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Nov. 7, 2020–Chris von Martels rode Eclips to victory in the Gold Coast Fall Dressage Grand Prix in the first competition in eight months as the partnership prepares to seek a place on Canada’s Olympic team.

Chris and the 11-year-old KWPN gelding were awarded 71.304% in the national competition, the first score above 70% for the partnership in four national shows and one CDI in Wellington last winter before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted horse sports.

Chris, a 2015 Pan American Games team silver and individual bronze medalist, found Eclips (Apache x Olympic Ferro) a year ago in Holland through Sjef Janssen, the former Dutch team coach.

He partnered with Barbara Soederhuizen of the Netherlands, Eclip’s original owner since the horse was a foal, in an ownership arrangement under Olympic rules to enable Chris to compete for Canada.

“He is really a horse of a lifetime,” Chris said, “he has everything from quality, but his biggest strength is his personality. He always gives his best and wants to be a winner.

“It is very easy to get out of bed in the morning knowing that he is waiting in the stable to ride. I enjoy every minute in and out of the saddle with him.”

Chris works with Ashley Holzer, the four-time Olympian for Canada who now rides for the United States and coaches many of top Canadian riders.

“Of course, earning a spot on the Canadian team for Tokyo is my goal,” Chris said, “in the meantime we are focusing on our training and being at our best in the next half year for the selections.”

Under Canada’s revised procedures, qualification for the three-member team and a possible reserve to go to the Olympics that were put off for a year to next July begin Jan. 1 and run through June 13.

Chris, like several prospects, will compete at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington to seek most of the  three Grand Prix and three Grand Prix Special scores required for consideration for selection.