Valentine’s Debut at International Grand Prix With Ashley Holzer at Wellington World Cup, Qualifies for Freestyle on Valentine’s Day Sunday

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The international Grand Prix debut of Valentine by Ashley Holzer to qualify for the Freestyle that will be staged on Valentine’s Day at the Global Dressage Festival on Sunday Feb. 14. © 2021 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 12, 2021–Valentine was ridden by Ashley holzer in the mare’s international Grand Prix Friday to qualify for the World Cup Freestyle at the Global Dressage Festival on Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Feb. 14.

The 11-year-old Hanoverian mare that was a Valentine’s Day gift to Ashley from her husband, Rusty, seven years ago, scored 71.826% as runner-up to long-time student, Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and All In, the top ranked Canadian combination who posted a personal best score for the victory.

Ashley, a four-time Olympian for Canada, at the age of 57 is seeking her first Olympic start as an American.

Ashley, is based in Wellington. She owns Valentine (Sir Donnerhall x Ragazzo), previously named FN Sensation, with Diane Fellows, who in turn is an owner of other top horses Ashley competes.

When Valentine came to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for her debut CDI Grand Prix, Ashley said, the horse was “very, very nervous” though she had been competed here both through international Small Tour and some national Grand Prix.

“The performance she gave me today,” Ashley said, “we had some little mistakes due to nerves but in general I am so thrilled with how, from day one to today, she has really developed over the last few days, calmed herself down. If I had to ride the test on the first day we got here it wouldn’t have been as successful as it was today. So I’m very happy.”

Although Ashley has lived in the United States longer than she did in Canada, she maintains a large group of Canadian riders she coaches. Her coaching has been so vital that she pulled Valentine from the United States short list at Small Tour for the 2019 Pan American Games to focus on the Canadians she teaches as individuals. Three of the four combinations–Lindsay Kellock on Floratina, Naïma Moreira Laliberté on Statesman and Jill Irving on Degas–were on the four-member team that won Pan Am gold for the first time since 1991, ending America’s string of five straight places at the top of the medals podium.

In addition to Brittany capturing the World Cup Grand Prix Friday, Lindsay on Sebastien captured the CDI3* Grand Prix Thursday.

“I feel so proud of them and their hard work,” Ashley said of the Canadians she works with. “They are always so positively wanting to get better. They never look at work as hard; they enjoy working. They are great riders, they are great horsewomen and horsemen. They deserve every bit of success they get because they are great at what they do and they want to be the best at what they do.”