When the start list for a grand prix includes the reigning individual Olympic gold medalist, a former European Champion and two World Cup champion combinations, you’re probably not betting on a 19-year-old local rider.
But Ben Asselin proved himself during this year’s Spruce Meadows Masters, scoring his first International Ring win aboard Makavoy in the $205,000 Encana Cup, held today, Sept. 6., in Calgary, Alberta
“I’ve been dreaming about winning in the International Ring forever, let alone during the Masters Tournament,” said Asselin. “I haven’t done many tracks at this height, I had no plan on winning anything. I have an incredible horse and he showed me he can do it.”
Leopoldo Palacios’ first round caused plenty of problems, both in the difficulty of the fences, and in the tight time allowed. Asselin headed into the three-horse jump-off last, after Christian Ahlmann (Taloubet Z) and François Mathy (Espadon van de Kranenburg). He was warming up while those two competed over the short course, but when he heard they each had a fence down, he opted to play it safe and lay down a conservative clear to win.
Makavoy, a Dutch Warmblood by Hors La Loi II, has been in Asselin’s barn for two years. His father, Canadian team rider Jonathan Asselin, rode the horse for 1 1/2 years. Ben underwent knee surgery—his second in as many years—to repair his meniscus this winter, and after he’d recovered enough to start riding, his father turned over the reins to Makavoy.
“He’s quite a little horse, but he has a huge heart,” said Asselin. “He has a ton of power and has a lot of motor. He’s quite sensitive to ride. He gives you a lot of confidence on that size track [1.60 meters] because he really takes you down to the jumps.”
Check back at chronofhorse.com throughout the weekend for lots more from the Spruce Meadows Masters, including tomorrow’s $350,000 BMO Nations Cup. For indepth coverage from the Masters, check out the Sept. 23 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.
Check out this other local rider  who scored a big win today.