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Elliott Stone Takes Top Honours in National Talent Squad Series

photo İCealy Tetley
It has been said that a rolling stone gathers no moss and in the case of Elliott Stone of Midland Ontario, this saying definitely rings true. After dominating the entire National Talent Squad Series, twenty year old Stone waltzes away with not only the title of National Talent Squad Champion but with a nomination for his 'D' card status for athlete funding from Sport Canada and airfare to the 2003 World Cup Final held in Las Vegas April 16th-20th. After the class Stone, a student at University of Toronto, Erindale campus, commented, "I am so glad to have had this opportunity to compete against some of the best up-and-coming riders Canada has to offer. I need to thank my parents who stood by me and supported me this past year as well as my horse Freestyle. I would also like to thank my coaches Eric Lamaze and Yann Candele for helping me get to where I am today."

Talent Squad events were held throughout Canada this past year, with the riders top five scores counting for the final. It all came down to a nail biting conclusion at the Talent Squad Championships held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair November 16th and 17th. Elliot Stone with his eight-year-old Belgium-bred mare Freestyle owned by Michael Stone, a longtime General Motors dealer, was at the head of the pack. When asked Mr. Stone compared Freestyle to a Cadillac, both top of the line in horsepower and performance. Tied in second position was Francois Lamontagne of St. Georges Quebec aboard his eight-year-old holsteiner gelding Cashi and John Kersley of Hudson Quebec aboard his seven-year-old holsteiner gelding Moritze. Hot on their trail was Keean White of Cambridge Ontario riding his nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Libidou and his eight-year-old Sell Francais gelding Arriscraft Rocca. There were many other riders fighting for top honors in this series including Rebecca Irvine, Isabelle Lapierre, Courtney Vince, Angela Covert and Carly Campbell-Cooper just to name a few.

The year started for Stone with a firm second place behind Muffy Guthrie, last years National Talent Squad Champion, at the Caledon National Horse Show in Palgrave. He then went on to win a first place ribbon at the Bromont International in Bromont Quebec, over an exceptionally tough course built by well known course designer Eugene Mathy from Belgium where only two horses managed a clear round. A second place finish both at the Classic International in Blainville Quebec and at the Capital Classic in Ottawa Ontario solidified Stone's grasp on first position in the Jump Canada Talent Squad Standings. Stone has been showing for ten years and this is his second year competing on the National Talent Squad. His coach of three years, Eric Lamaze, 2000 Canadian Show Jumping Champion and member of the bronze medal team at the 1999 Pan American Games was very proud of his student's accomplishments throughout the season. Lamaze remarked, "Elliott is a very talented and determined rider. He worked very hard this past year and deserves to be where he is today."

photo İCealy Tetley
This year's National Talent Squad Series was an immense hit with over sixty horse and rider combinations registering and thirty-seven of them accumulating points in the attempt to secure that coveted top position. This program has been running for over 13 years now and has helped many riders step up into the International level. Riders like Jill Henselwood, John Pearce, Jonathan Millar, Frankie Chesler, Chris Pratt, Mark Samuel, Erynn Ballard, Ainsley Vince and Melissa Brown have all benefited by this national program helping to identify their potential and preparing them for both Grand Prix's and International competition eventually leading them to a spot on the Canadian Equestrian Team. Stone will now set his sights on the open jumper division and in the future, a spot on the Canadian Equestrian Team. His past wins include 2000 Junior Champion, 2000 Junior Team Gold at the North American Young Riders, 2001 Rising Star Champion, 2002 Team Silver at the North American Young Riders and finished in the top ten at the September $75,000 HITS Grand Prix in Ellenville New York. Stone plans to compete this winter in Wellington Florida and then return to Canada to compete at the Pan American Trials in Langley British Columbia at the Thunderbird Horse Show. Stone is also hoping that Jump Canada will continue their Developing Rider Tour in Europe, as he would love to qualify and be apart of the next team to represent Canada throughout Europe.

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