Vernon Turns Up the Heat with First Grand Prix Victory

Amelia Vernon and Udolente take home her first Grand Prix win at the Bow Valley Classic I in the $25,000 TD Equine Veterinarian Services Grand Prix.

Calgary, Alberta – The $25,000 TD Equine Veterinarian Services Grand Prix was the stage for a Saturday afternoon full of fun, excitement and great competition at the Bow Valley Classic I Tournament. Any time of year is spectacular in the Canadian Rockies, but Springtime is especially remarkable with new beginnings, including what should prove to be the start to a fantastic Grand Prix career.

The afternoon at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping (RMSJ) began with a field of 27 horse and rider combinations set to tackle an exacting course designed by International course designer Manuel Esparza from Mexico. With the riders up to the challenge asked by Manuel, an impressive 9 combinations jumped clear in the first round to set up a spectacular race for the crown.

The first person to qualify and come back for the jump-off round was the very skilled Tamie Phillips of Strathmore, AB, starting with a clear round and a blazing time that looked like it couldn’t be caught. A fantastic foot race ensued with three riders beating the time, and in the end, and a new champion was sitting on top of the leader board with her first Grand Prix victory ever.

Amelia Vernon, the daughter of hockey legend Mike Vernon (two time Stanley cup champion), showed fierce determination in bettering a jump-off field that just kept getting faster and faster with every turn. “My horse is very, very scopey and very careful, but she is not very fast, so that I was worried about and I have never really had to the chance to test to see how fast she can go,” said Amelia.

Amelia’s mount Udolente (known as Lentil in the barn) is a 12 year old mare who actually was a children’s hunter prior to her purchase in December 2011. “She can be a little stiff to turn, so I was a little worried about the inside turns that I wouldn’t be able to make it, but I galloped up to the first fence and really galloped up to the second one and there was a really tight turn after a vertical. I looked and opened my rein and she spun so fast; I was very impressed with her,” beamed Amelia, “as usually we don’t do that very well.”

Nothing makes Springtime at Anderson Ranch better than seeing a new young face at the Grand Prix level. Rocky Mountain Show Jumping provides riders with the opportunities to hone their skills at any level, from beginner through to seasoned Grand Prix riders, and supplies them with the opportunities to advance throughout the levels of the sport. Just a few years back, Amelia Vernon won her first 1.30m competition ever here at RMSJ, aboard her brilliant mount Ruby in another big jump-off featuring 13 challengers.

On hand to watch the exhilarating events were Dr. Dan French and Dr. Candice Crosby, two of the three principal founders of TD Veterinarian Services Group. “We had a wonderful time watching the Grand Prix tonight, and Amelia put in such a beautiful ride,” said Dr. Candice Crosby. “We didn’t think that anyone was going to go faster than Tamie at the beginning, so it was a really exciting finish for Amelia and we are very happy for her.”

Dr. Dan French reflected upon Amelia’s Victory: “It was a great class; I have known the Vernons for a long time. Amelia is the same age as my daughter and they started riding about the same time. It was a great win for her. They are just a wonderful family and great supporters of the sport, so it is nice for them to have that red ribbon.”

More new beginnings are happening in Southern Alberta with the new TD Equine Veterinarian Group started, after the closure of the Okotoks Animal Clinic. The three founding principals are extremely respected sport horse veterinarians Dr. Dan French and Dr. Candice Crosby on the English side and Dr. Suzon Schaal on the Western side. “We all have established clientele in the sport horse community,” noted Dr. Dan French. “Candice Crosby and I deal primarily with the English performance sport horse and Suzon Schaal is very well established in the Western performance. Our goal is to maintain a service to our clientele and focus on the performance horse clients. We are just regrouping; we have not set up a permanent home yet, but we are working out of a couple of facilities.”

With such a talented group both in TD Veterinarian Services Group and young Amelia Vernon, Springtime and great beginnings have come to Southern Alberta and Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, a fabulous start to the exciting 2013 tournament season.

John Anderson, president of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, had the chance to reflect on the Grand Prix after having competed himself incurring just one time fault with his faithful steed Terrific: “I’m just so happy for Amelia; she is exactly what Rocky Mountain Show Jumping is all about. She, along with so many others here in Alberta, is the future of our sport, and it pleases our team to see the model we have built work for so many competitors striving to be Canada’s next superstars. You will see many more victories from this talented young rider in the years to come.”

Rocky Mountain Show Jumping hosts its tournaments at Anderson Ranch in Calgary’s south end, a world-class facility featuring permanent stabling for 300 horses and a grass grand prix field complete with natural obstacles.  For more information on Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, please visit

Competition continues next week with the Bow Valley Classic II, featuring the $25,000 1.40 Grand Prix (Talent Squad Qualifier).

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