HORSELOGS.COM - Press Release from Dressage Canada...
For Immediate Release     Nov 10, 2005
Contact: Dave Thind    e-mail:
Media Relations and Communications, Equine Canada
Tel: (613) 248-3433 ext. 136

Newfoundland’s Mark Leyton wins National Talent Squad Championships

Mark Leyton, Equestrian Ottawa, Ontario - After two days of competition at the Jump Canada National Talent Squad Championships held November 4 and 5 during the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, 17-year-old Mark Leyton of St. John’s, NF, emerged victorious..

Riding against the best up-and-coming horses and riders in the country, Leyton rose to the occasion and topped a field of 16 horse-rider combinations. Following Round One on November 4, Leyton was in second place behind Deanna Phelan of Geary, NB. However, Leyton, who attends Gonzaga High School in St. John’s, NF, was still in the running.

“On the second day of competition, only myself and one other rider went clear,” said Leyton, assessing the competition. “The other rider was first in the jump-off and had one rail, so I knew that all I needed was a slow, steady and clear jump-off to win. I am excited because this was a big class with some very good horses and riders in it.”

On day two of competition, Vanessa Paschini of Boisbriand, QC aboard Marc Sabbah’s Heve de Mazure took second place while the third place position went to Deanna Phelan aboard Sunshine

For this class, Leyton chose one of his three Dutch Warmblood mares, Nicole, owned by Legacy Investments, for the job. The 10 year-old mare was purchased last spring from Emile Hendrix in Holland.

“We didn’t think that Nicole would go this far!” commented Leyton, who has only been riding in the jumper divisions for the past three years. “My coach, Jill Henselwood, has really helped me with this horse and we have come a long way.”

Leyton began riding in 1996 at a riding camp at Clovelly Riding Stables in Newfoundland. Hooked on the sport, the young boy took weekly flights to train with Ottawa-based coach, Carrie Bova, with whom he enjoyed a very successful hunter career. It was exactly three years ago at the 2002 Royal Horse Show that Leyton’s mother arranged for her talented son to train with veteran Canadian Equestrian Team member, Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, ON.

At last year’s Royal Horse Show, Leyton was crowned champion of the Junior / Amateur Jumper division and this year’s win of the 2005 National Talent Squad Champion has added another Championsip under his belt. His victory came just hours after his coach, Henselwood, was crowned the 2005 Canadian Show Jumping Champion.

About the Talent Squad

The Talent Squad is a means of recognizing up-and-coming riders who are preparing to enter the grand prix ranks and demonstrate the ability to become future members of the Canadian Equestrian Team. Riders from across Canada qualified for the National Talent Squad Championships with representation from as far west as Calgary, Alberta, and across to Leyton’s hometown of St. John’s, NF.

About Jump Canada

Jump Canada is a committee of Equine Canada responsible for all hunter, hunter equitation and jumper activities in Canada from the grass roots to the international level. Jump Canada is governed by a board of directors, the majority of whom are elected by the stakeholders in the sport. For more information regarding Jump Canada programs and activities, visit

Results, Round 1 – November 4

1. Deanna Phelan, Sunshine Geary, NB
2. Mark Leyton, Nicole St John’s, NF
3. Greg Kuti, Optimaal Schomberg, ON
4. Nicolas-Xavier Belanger, Now or Never Calixa-Lavalee, QC
5. Myra Simard, Dutch Treat St. Laurent, QC

Results, Round 2 – November 5

1. Mark Leyton, Nicole St John’s, NF
2. Vanessa Paschini, Heve De Mazure Boisbriand, QC
3. Deanna Phelan, Sunshine Geary, NB
4. Kristin Russel, Ashtin’s Lucky Seven Calgary, AB
5. Laurie Bucci, Lalelu Mont St-Hilaire, QC


1. Mark Leyton, Nicole St John’s, NF
2. Deanna Phelan, Sunshine Geary, NB

Attached Photograph – “Mark Leyton and Nicole, winners of the 2005 Talent Squad National Final”
Photo Credit: Michelle Dunn
Photograph may be used one time only, in relation to the above news item.