Ian Millar guided Star Power to victory in the $35,000 CSI Caledon Cup, Phase I. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.
Palgrave, Ontario – Canadian show jumping legend Ian Millar topped an international starting field of 46 entries to win the $35,000 CSI Caledon Cup, Phase I, presented by Peel Maryborough and Aviva Insurance, on Friday, September 26, at the CSI2*-W Canadian Show Jumping Tournament held at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park in Palgrave, ON.
Hot off his win in the $1.5 million CP International on September 14 at Calgary’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament with Dixson, 67-year-old Millar once again stood in the winner’s circle following a masterful performance aboard Star Power. Owned by a group known as Team Works, the name could not be more fitting as two other members of ‘Team Millar’ joined the patriarch in the awards presentation. His son, Jonathon Millar, who had celebrated his 40th birthday one day earlier, placed second riding Calvin Klein while Jonathon Millar’s long-time girlfriend, Kelly Soleau, rounded out the top three.
In one of the largest starting fields ever seen in International Equestrian Federation (FEI) sanctioned competition in eastern Canada, a total of 50 horses were entered in Friday’s $35,000 CSI competition, which acted as Phase I of the RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup. On the day, 46 horses went through the start timers, where a clever track set by course designer Bernardo Cabral of Portugal yielded 16 clear rounds.
With the stage set for a dramatic jump-off, spectators were treated to another clear round by Millar, who was third to return in the jump-off order. Setting the pace with a time of 45.09 seconds, Millar put the pressure on those who followed. While five were able to better the time, including Millar himself with his second ride, Dixson, none were able to leave all the rails in place.
“It was a big group and, given the nature of the competition, it was a bit of a mixed group,” reflected Millar on the large starting field that included both Olympic veterans and young up-and-comers. “The course designer made it clear that it wouldn’t be the biggest course, but it would be technical and the time allowed would be a factor. He made the jump-off very difficult to jump clean. The minute you put the speed to it, you saw the rails come down.”
Of his own strategy with Star Power, as only the third pair to return for the jump-off, Millar said, “I figured it would get to be a fast class, but I sure wasn’t going to give it away! Star Power was right on the job.”
In the end, it was his own son who came a close second following a clear round in a time of 45.56 seconds with Calvin Klein, a 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Cardento x Feliciano) owned by the family’s Millar Brooke Farm in Perth, ON.
Making the family connection even stronger, Soleau took third place by jumping clear in 45.68 with Itty Bitty, a nine-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare (Mr. Itt x Prospector’s Halo) that was bred by Millar Brooke Farm.
“We bred that mare of Kelly’s, and Jonathon’s horse we bought several years ago in Holland and I had a hand in bringing him along, so to see it all coming to fruition is wonderful,” said Millar. “It is great to be out there with them, and just plain fun to do!”
While Dixson, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange, has been in the spotlight the past few weeks, first representing Canada at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, before scoring back-to-back victories in the $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup and the $1.5 million CP International, presented by Rolex, at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, it was Star Power’s turn to visit the winner’s circle at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park. Millar has been partnered with the 13-year-old Dutch-bred gelding (Quick Star x Calvados) since 2010.
“It was a beautiful day, a lovely presentation, the footing is extraordinary, and the facility couldn’t be coming along better,” said Millar in praise of the Park, which has undergone extensive reconstruction in preparation to host next year’s Pan American Games. “It will be the best Pan Am facility that I’ve ever been to.”
Millar, who holds a world record with 10 Olympic appearances, has made it very clear that he has every intention of representing his country not only on home soil at next year’s Pan American Games, but also at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Craig Collins, Managing Partner of competition organizer Equestrian Management Group (EMG) as well as Sport Organizing Chair – Equestrian for the 2015 Pan American Games, was both inspired and grateful for the large turn-out at this year’s Canadian Show Jumping Tournament.
“The riders are truly voting with their boots,” said Collins. “Everyone can talk and say nice things about the facility, but when I see 50 riders entering a class, it means a lot. Outside of Spruce Meadows, I don’t think there has ever been an FEI class that had 50 entered and 46 going to the post. That level of confidence and that level of support make what we’ve done over the past few years really worth it!”
The CSI2*-W Canadian Show Jumping Tournament marks the fifth and final week of FEI-sanctioned competition to be held at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park in 2014. The Canadian Show Jumping Tournament concludes on Sunday, September 28, with the $50,000 RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup, Phase II, presented by Peel Maryborough and Aviva Insurance. The grand finale also acts as a qualifying event for the 2015 World Cup Final to be held in Las Vegas, USA.
For more information, including full results, please visit www.equiman.com.
The New Live Contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping
15 September 2014 – Canada’s legendary Ian Millar, riding his 11 year old bay gelding Dixson, in front of over 89,000 equestrian fans, won yesterday’s CP International presented by Rolex at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, and now becomes the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
In front of a sell-out crowd bathed in early autumn sunshine, course designer Leopoldo Palacios had laid out a tough first round track which whittled the original 47 horse and rider combinations down to the 12 who went through to the second round. In the 19 years that Leopoldo has been designing in the International Ring, there has only ever been two jump-offs, so just reaching the two-horse jump-off was a considerable achievement in itself for Millar and Reed Kessler from the USA.
Millar, who has competed at every Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ since the inaugural tournament in 1976, had to use every ounce of experience to overcome Reed Kessler riding Cylana in the jump-off. But the 47 year age gap counted in Millar’s favour as he was able to watch Kessler ride a third clear round before coming into the ring and matching her achievement, but 2.3 seconds faster to win the title. Marie Etter from Switzerland was third riding Admirable.
Speaking after his victory, Ian Millar said, “You know, the afternoon goes by in a blur – it took several hours but it just happened so fast and everything just turns on the horses’ footfall. It’s incredible when you consider that there’s 47 in the competition and virtually every horse and rider combination is extremely good at what they do, otherwise they wouldn’t be here – and any one of them on a given day can win, so the set of circumstances that has to fall together and what has to fall in line for one person to win is quite incredible.”
At one stage the weather threatened to dominate the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, one of the three equestrian Majors, and part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Unseasonal autumn snow greeted the riders arriving earlier in the week and, facing weather conditions more akin to late December than early September, the Spruce Meadows team worked throughout the day and night to clear the huge International Ring of 12 inches of snow covering it, and the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ competition was able to get underway on Thursday.
Many of the world’s greatest riders, including Rolex Testimonees Eric Lamaze, Steve Guerdat and Kevin Staut, were appearing at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, having flown directly from France following the World Equestrian Games. Both Steve Guerdat and Christian Ahlmann, holders of the Rolex Grand Prix titles from CHI Geneva and CHIO Aachen respectively were in contention for a Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping bonus for winning two of the three shows, but despite a top 10 finish for Steve in the Grand Prix, the bonus remains unclaimed.
Spruce Meadows, which first staged an equestrian competition 39 years ago, is one of the three equestrian Majors, but despite the sheer size and scaled of the venue, it maintains a unique atmosphere which differentiates it from the fellow Majors at CHI Geneva and CHIO Aachen.
Spruce Meadows President Linda Southern-Heathcott commented, “Spruce Meadows was a very small venue in the beginning and the sport was very young, so my mother and father had to create a family atmosphere and we believe that the athletes and the corporate supporters are part of our family, and the media are fans. Our place is their place, for them to enjoy and it is their home and we invite people from around the world into our home and so it’s a special place that way and just because we have always really strived to have that feeling.”
To Rolex Testimonee Eric Lamaze, Spruce Meadows holds a special place in his heart.
“Spruce Meadows is unique,” said Lamaze. “They have never changed the tradition here. There is nothing else like it from the organizational side of it. The people around these grounds are so helpful and are so giving of their time to make Spruce Meadows what it is.”
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping now moves indoors to the CHI Geneva in December where Ian Millar will be aiming to take the next steps towards the €1 million bonus.
Ian Millar scored the biggest victory of his career, winning the $1.5 million CP International. Photo by Cealy Tetley.
Calgary, Alberta – Ten-time Olympian Ian Millar of Perth, ON added yet another title to his long list of accomplishments by winning the $1.5 million CP International, presented by Rolex, on September 14 to close out the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows “Masters” tournament in Calgary, AB.
It was the second day in a row that the Canadian anthem rang out across the International Ring. Millar’s win came one day after Canada claimed victory in the $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup. The Canadian Show Jumping Team comprised of Ben Asselin, Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze and Millar clinched only the second Canadian win in the event’s 38-year history, having won in 2006.
On Sunday, Millar stepped into the spotlight solo. Riding Dixson, owned by Susan Grange and her daughter, Aerial, Millar produced two faultless rounds over the diabolical tracks crafted by two-time Olympic mastermind, course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela.
As the day unfolded, the stage was set for a face-off between youth and experience. When Millar, 67, produced a second clear round, it forced a jump-off with 20-year-old Reed Kessler of the United States. Riding her 2012 Olympic mount, Cylana, Kessler returned with guns blazing, jumping clear in a time of 49.50 seconds to put the pressure firmly on Millar’s shoulders. As he has done so many times in the past, Millar rose to the occasion, guiding Dixson to a clear round in 47.33 seconds to take the win in front of 89,539 fans.
“I can honestly tell you that I never thought I would win this grand prix again,” said Millar, who claimed victory in 1987 and 1991 with the legendary Big Ben. “It was a long time ago, and the sport has changed so much. I’m a little more mature than I was, and these young people go plenty fast and they know all the tricks. They are really, really good. I have the greatest admiration for my fellow riders. To go up against them is no easy task.”
Never at a loss for words, Millar reflected on the significance of his win, not to mention the first place prize money of $500,000 from the total purse of $1.5 million on offer.
“The afternoon just seems to fly by,” said Millar, who is ranked third on the all-time money won list at Spruce Meadows behind Eric Lamaze and Beezie Madden with career earnings totaling more than $3.5 million. “It’s like a blur, it happens so fast. The tension is incredible. To me, it is the most prestigious grand prix in the world. It’s a heck of a payday! It’s just a thrill. It is beyond words.”
In a twist of fate, Millar’s mount, Dixson, is related to the great Big Ben, carrying similar bloodlines.
“Dixson knows when to rise to the occasion, as Big Ben always did,” said Millar, who began riding the 11-year-old bay Belgian Warmblood gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Olisco) at the beginning of 2013. Dixson’s sire, Vigo d’Arsouilles, was the 2010 World Champion under Belgium’s Philippe Lejeune.
“It has to be a harmony between horse and rider; you can’t solve these courses without it, and that’s what’s taken the time, to really develop that partnership,” said Millar. “He really, really wants to be a good horse. It’s always thrilling when you hope a horse is going to do this, and then they do it. It’s certainly nice when they work out. We are very fortunate to have him.”
When asked how this win compared to his previous victories in 1987 and 1991, Millar said, “The difference is the perspective of time. I’ve had other horses during those years. Sometimes I walk the course and I look up at the sky and say ‘Big Ben, where are you when I need you?’ because I know he would do it for fun. When you have had a great horse, it can sometimes be a bad thing for a rider because the next one doesn’t quite measure up. I’ve had a lot of really good horses, but the good ones are elusive. Dixson; I really think he is the real thing for me.”
As the winner of the $1.5 million CP International, presented by Rolex, Millar is now the live contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping which brings together three of the greatest events in the world – CHIO Aachen, CSIO Calgary and CHI Geneva. An unprecedented €1 million in bonus money is on offer to any rider who can win all three Grand Prix events in succession.
A true show jumping legend, Millar, who was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, has no plans for retirement. At 67 years of age, he has his sights set firmly on the 2015 Pan American Games to be hosted in Toronto, ON, as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Calgary, AB, Canada – September 14, 2014 – The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO 5* came to a thrilling conclusion today with the biggest show jumping event in the world, the $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex. Canadian show jumping legend Ian Millar and Dixson, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange, triumphed through two rounds and a jump-off of challenging equestrian sport over 20-year-old Reed Kessler (USA) and Cylana. Today’s event was the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and Ian Millar is next in line to try and take equestrian sport’s most sought-after title.
More than 89,000 spectators were on hand at Spruce Meadows today to watch one of Canada’s most acclaimed athletes win for the third time on Sunday at the ‘Masters’. Millar, whose incredible career has spanned decades, won previous editions of this event in 1987 and 1991 with his famous mount Big Ben.
Both courses today, set by Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela, were extremely tall, technical, and challenging. “It was a fantastic day,” Palacios said. “For Ian to win in his home country is great. This is the third time I’ve had a jump-off here. The courses were really strong, heavy, the heights hard, the lines difficult. I am very happy. The team of Spruce Meadows, how they maintained the footing was incredible. The jump crew and groundskeepers, I thank all of them.”
In Round One, there were 10 clear rounds. Twelve returned for the second round, along with Kevin Staut (FRA) on Estoy Aqui de Muze (who had four faults in Round One) and Robert Whitaker (GBR) with Catwalk IV, who had one time fault. Staut and Whitaker had eight and 13 faults, respectively, in Round Two for ninth and 12th places.
Jerome Hurel (FRA) and Quartz Rouge had a rail and a time fault in Round Two to finish on five faults for sixth place. Alain Jufer (SUI) and Wiveau M tallied 13 faults for 11th place, and fellow Swiss rider Steve Guerdat on Nasa had nine faults for eighth place.
Kessler and Cylana were next in, and they recorded a brilliant second clear round. With a fist pump after going through the timers, Kessler would have to wait and see if anyone else could match her performance and take it to a jump-off. Two trips later, that’s just what would happen when Millar and Dixson galloped clear through the timers to the roar of the crowd.
In between Kessler and Millar, Marie Etter completed the course with four faults on Admirable for third place, ending a strong day for the Swiss team. Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and Cabrio van de Heffinck were close to repeating their 2012 victory, but one rail and a time fault left them in fifth place. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Zigali P S had nine faults, and Shane Breen (IRL) on Golden Hawk tallied 13 faults, which placed them seventh and 10th respectively.
Last in the ring, the crowd held their breath to see if it would be a three-way jump-off. It was not to be as one of the favorites, Beezie Madden (USA) and Simon, had one rail down and a time fault. They ended up in fourth place.
First in for the jump-off was Kessler on Cylana, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco owned by Kessler Show Stables. Kessler was fast and efficient, and Cylana made easy work of the jump-off course, finishing clear in 49.50 seconds.
Millar had the advantage of seeing Kessler go. He and Dixson, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Vigo D’Arsouilles x Olisco, made tighter turns and put the gas pedal down across the big grass field of the International Ring. When the timers stopped on a winning time of 47.33 seconds, the spectators gave a standing ovation to Millar.
“I had the good fortune of going second, so I saw exactly what she did,” Millar acknowledged. “Her strategy was exactly correct; she did just what I would have done and put just enough pressure on. I was quicker on the turn from (fence) one to two, and to the double liverpools. It was just a little here and there, and that was the difference.”
Millar seemed pleasantly surprised by the occurrence of factors that came together today for his third victory in what he calls “the most prestigious grand prix in the world.”
“I can honestly tell you that I never thought I’d win this grand prix again,” he admitted. “I won it twice before, and that was a long time ago. The sport has changed so much. I’m a little more mature than I was. These young people go plenty fast, and they’re really, really good. To go up against them is no easy task. The afternoon just seems to fly by. It happened so fast, and the tension is incredible. It’s a heck of a payday. It’s just a thrill beyond words.”
When asked about the difference winning the CP International now, at the age of 67, compared to his previous victories, he stated, “The perspective of time. I’ve had other horses and sometimes I’d walk a course and I’d look up at the sky and say, ‘Big Ben, where are you when I need you?’ I know he’d do it for fun. When you’ve had a great horse, this can sometimes be a bad thing for a rider because the next one doesn’t quite measure up. You just don’t get that many times in your life. I’ve had a lot of really good horses, but the great ones are elusive. Dixson is the real thing for me.”
Millar describes Dixson as “a little tricky to ride and train, a little strong.” He continued, “You don’t just take him head on, because he’ll just say, ‘Is that the best you got?’ You just gotta sell him on it and let him think it’s half his idea. He really, really wants to be a good horse. I’m very fortunate to have him. It’s really thrilling when you hope a horse is going to do this, and then they do it.”
Kessler was excited to be back at Spruce Meadows again after staying in Europe this summer to compete with trainer Marcus Ehning. “It just didn’t quite fit into my schedule,” she pointed out. “I really missed it because she’s just so spectacular here. I really wanted to make sure that I could come back here and jump the ‘Masters’. She jumps her best here. You just have a feeling with a horse; she loves this class. I know that if one day I can get it right, she’s going to win it. I thought the footing was impeccable, which is a testament to this show and their team. I’m really thankful that I could come this year.”
For Marie Etter, the experience of competing at Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and finishing in third place is more than just a good result. The pair has been together for seven years; Etter found the now 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by A Jungle Prince x Rhytmo competing in small national classes in Germany. “I fell in love when I saw his face, the eyes,” she said.
They worked up to the international level together, and Etter’s husband took over the ride when she was pregnant. Etter and Admirable teamed up again, but he ended up having two colic surgeries.
“He was dying. He spent two months in the clinic. We did everything for him. My groom did a really good job; he was there every day. We had a good relationship before, but after that, the connection is just amazing. I’m happy to be third, but I’m really happy how he fought for me. We do this because we love horses. When you feel your horse fighting for you and giving everything for you, that’s the best feeling,” she related.
Etter said it was a dream to be at Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, having watched the grand prix every year on television before. “I’m not used to jumping at this level. Calgary is really special. I was feeling a bit small the first day. Okay, I am small, but I was feeling really small! Today I’m feeling a little bit less small!” she said with a smile.
With his victory today, Millar is in the running for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The next leg is at CHI Geneva in December. While Millar originally hadn’t planned to show in Geneva, he said he would discuss with Dixson’s owners about taking the trip to Europe this winter. “Circumstances change plans. I think it would be a lovely idea to go to Geneva in December,” he remarked.
Millar never imagined that he would have such a payday when he started his career. He explained, “The way the sport has evolved is incredible. Every rider and horse is probably good enough to win this thing. The set of circumstances that have to come together to let you win it, it’s extraordinary. You couldn’t write the script on what it takes to win. When it happens, you really enjoy it.”
Olivier Philippaerts Tops $85,000 AKITA Drilling Parcours de Chasse 1.50m
In the opening event of the day, Olivier Philippaerts of Belgium and Carlito C set an early fast pace to come away with the win in the $85,000 AKITA Drilling Parcours de Chasse 1.50m. Carlito C, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Kannan owned by Frans Jens, sped through the faults converted course that featured the table bank and smaller derby bank. They stopped the timers in 83.350 seconds.
Five trips later, Shane Breen (IRL) and Calido Boy posted a time of 83.998 seconds, which would hold up for second place. Nearing the end of the course, Conor Swail and Martha Louise made a great bid, but an added four seconds for a rail down brought their time down to 84.010 seconds for third place.
Carlito C was originally a mount for Olivier’s brother, Nicola, who rode him for a year and a half. Olivier has now had the ride for five months. “It really went good together from the beginning. I already won a few classes in Europe. He’s doing a very good job,” he explained. “I brought him to Spruce Meadows because I think he jumps very good in the grass ring. He can do a bit of everything. Not the really big classes, but he’s a very good speed horse on grass, and up to 1.50m classes on grass, he can do that very well. I did a few derbies as well, (like) in Falsterbo.”
He continued, “Today I knew this was a class (he could) be really good in, so I was hoping to have a good result here. I didn’t see any other riders. My father told me that they were going really, really quick. You really have to risk everything, so that’s what I did. I just tried to go as fast as I could and hopefully it was enough today. I ended up winning it, so I’m happy with the result.”
Winning at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ is a family affair for the Philippaerts family; Olivier won the CP International in 2012, and last year his father, Ludo, won the opening Sunday competition. He said with a smile, “It’s very cool to come here with your family, with your father and your brother. It’s something to look forward to, to try and win these classes. My father won last year, and I won this year. Hopefully we can keep doing that the next few years!”
Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the creation of the Southern family who built a Show Jumping complex at the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. It was in 1976 that the first Spruce Tournaments were held, with annual spectator attendances reaching over 50,000 by the end of the decade. Today, Spruce Meadows boasts one of the greatest outdoor equestrian venues in the world and offers an incredible experience for riders and fans alike. Spruce Meadows focuses on the organization and hosting of show jumping tournaments of unmatched quality for junior, amateur and professional athletes in a manner that reflects basic family values in a clean, green and welcoming environment that celebrates the horse and encourages the breeding and training of quality sport horses and the teaching and development of athletes. For more information on Spruce Meadows, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Ian Millar won the $35,000 CSI2* RAM Equestrian Grand Prix riding Dixson. Photos by Shoot Photographic, www.ShootPhoto.ca.
Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park Re-Opens to Rave Reviews
Palgrave, Ontario – The newly-renovated Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park opened its doors for the first show of the season, and Ian Millar wasted no time posting the first grand prix victory. The 10-time Olympian hailing from Perth, ON won the $35,000 CSI2* RAM Equestrian Grand Prix riding Dixson on Sunday, May 18, for owners Sue and Aerial Grange at the site of equestrian events for the 2015 Pan American Games.
A total of nine horses found their way to clear rounds over the first-round track set by Germany’s Werner Deeg to qualify for the jump-off. Three riders, including Canadian Olympic team silver medalist Jill Henselwood, incurred one time fault for exceeding the 71-second time allowed.
Conor Swail of Ireland, who had won Friday’s $35,000 CSI2* Alberta Premium Open Welcome with Lansdowne, was first to return, posting a time of 44.52 seconds with the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Guidam x Wolfgang). His lead would be short-lived, however, as Millar navigated the track in a blistering fast time of 43.51 seconds with Dixson, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Olisco). Five more horses would follow, including Swail with his second ride, Martha Louise. The pair was on target to take the win with a time of 42.73, but a rail down three from home put paid to their chances of victory.
“Conor led it off with Lansdowne and was extremely fast and clear,” said Millar, 67, who, on Friday, had finished second to Swail with Dixson, as well as taking fourth place with Baranus. “I took the lead from Conor and held it right to the end. Conor was actually getting me on the clock with his second ride, Martha Louise, but then had a rail. My son, Jonathon, was double clear today, too. All in all, it was an excellent day!”
One week earlier, Millar anchored the Canadian team to victory in the CSIO4* Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ in Coapexpan, Mexico by posting three clear rounds – two clear rounds plus a tie-breaking jump-off, with Star Power. With three top horses, Millar noted that his string “is the best it’s been in many, many years.”
Of his plans for Dixson specifically, Millar said, “His development comes along extremely well. I’m focusing on Normandy (site of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games), and then probably onto Barcelona for the Nations’ Cup Final.”
While Millar emerged victorious on Sunday, Swail’s return to competition at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park was notable as it was his first show back after tearing his Achilles tendon at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto last November. Having won the last two major competitions of the 2013 season at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, the $35,000 CSI2* RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup Phase 1 and the $35,000 CSI2* RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup Phase II, presented by Peel Maryborough and Aviva, with Lansdowne, the pair resumed exactly where they had left off, by claiming victory over a 12-horse jump-off field in Friday’s $35,000 CSI2* Alberta Premium Open Welcome. Their time of 43.58 seconds gave them the win over Millar and Dixson, who had stopped the clock at 46.20, making it a great day for Susan and Aerial Grange of Cheltenham, ON, owners of both Lansdowne and Dixson.
With two of the world’s best riders taking victories on opening week, there is no doubt that the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park is of international standard. Following an extensive rebuild and renovation in preparation for next year’s Pan American Games, the Park attracted rave reviews all week long, including from Millar, a three-time Pan Am gold medalist.
“It’s fantastic!” raved Millar, who caused an internet sensation on Friday with his interview for the Town of Caledon, available here. “This facility will assure us the best equestrian events of any Pan American Games and, just as importantly, it reminds me of ‘Field of Dreams’ – build it, and they will come!”
Millar continued, “When you have a facility of this standard, it attracts sponsorship, it attracts prize money, it attracts television coverage. The highest level of competition is nothing but great for our riders. It will make our sport stronger and healthier.”
The Classic @ Palgrave Phase 1 held May 14 to 18 marked the first of five weeks of International Equestrian Federation (FEI) sanctioned competition to be held at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park in 2014. Produced by Equestrian Management Group (EMG), increased prize money and opportunities to earn valuable FEI World Ranking points have attracted show jumping athletes from around the globe to Palgrave, ON.
“We are thrilled!” said EMG Managing Partner, Craig Collins. “More importantly, we are delighted that the high performance athletes trusted us, put their faith in us, and joined us this week. I really want to thank the riders, trainers and owners for supporting us; it was great to see everyone here. And thank you to the entire team that helped us get the facility ready in time for the first event of the year.”
Collins, who also acts as Sport Organizing Chair – Equestrian for the 2015 Pan American Games, continued, “We are also extremely pleased with our decision to take our first two May shows from national-level events to FEI. Upping the level of competition has really paid off and benefits everyone. We are very proud to be able to support our riders as they make their plans for major championships.”
Competition continues next week at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park with the CSI2* Caledon National from May 21-25. Both the CSI2* Classic @ Palgrave Phase I and the CSI2* Caledon National are qualifiers for the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties on September 7.
In addition to international show jumping competition, junior and amateur competitors can look forward to qualifying for this year’s Pan Am Challenges. All junior and amateur classes on the schedule will count towards qualifying for either the $20,000 High Junior/Amateur Pan Am Challenge, Presented by MVS Solutions, or the $10,000 Low Junior/Amateur Pan Am Challenge, Presented by Horseware Ireland. First introduced in 2013 and extremely popular with exhibitors, both the High and Low Pan Am Challenges will be held during the CSI2* Canadian Show Jumping Tournament from September 24-28.
With the increase of FEI-sanctioned competition from two weeks to five and a full range of options for hunter, jumper and equitation competitors alike, Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park has set the stage for top international sport in 2014. For more information on the 2014 Equestrian Management Group competition schedule, including a full listing of hunter, jumper and equitation divisions, please visit www.equiman.com.
Crooks Has Inaugural International Win, Swail Continues with Consistency
Calgary, AB – June 28, 2013 – The ‘Canada One’ Tournament had three feature competitions in the Meadows on the Green today with winners from three different countries. Canada’s 10-time Olympian, Ian Millar, took the win in the $33,000 Duncan Ross Cup 1.50m with Dixson. In her first international win at Spruce Meadows, Lauren Crooks (USA) and Navare D’Oriolles were fastest in the $33,000 Westjet Cup 1.45m. Conor Swail of Ireland rode Game Ready to victory in the $33,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m.
The ‘Canada One’ Tournament wraps up on Sunday with the $100,000 Esso Challenge, the third FEI World Cup qualifier to be held at Spruce Meadows this summer. Admission and parking are complimentary for this week.
The $33,000 Duncan Ross Cup 1.50m had 44 entries, and they competed over a course designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Canada. Five were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off. First up was Eric Navet (FRA) on Quanto Fino 2. They were clear in a conservative time of 47.420 seconds for third place.
Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam brought the winning pace down to 46.701 seconds on Diktator van de Boslandhoeve, which would hold up for second place. Fourth place went to Leslie Howard (USA) on Utah after they had four faults in 43.447 seconds.
Millar and Dixson were next in and they started with speed to the first jump. They finished with no faults in a quick time of 42.999 seconds. Millar said afterward, “Dixson’s a naturally fast horse. My idea was to go along as quickly as I could without putting the jumps at too big a risk. It boiled down to a very efficient round. I didn’t need to go quite as fast, but you never know with one behind you. You hate to leave it. I wanted to make sure.”
The last horse in was Skylubet with Nicolas Pizarro of Mexico. They had eight faults in 47.801 seconds for fifth place.
Millar has been competing at Spruce Meadows since its inception and he was happy to win with yet another horse in the main ring. This is Dixson’s first year competing at Spruce Meadows and his first win. The 10-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding is by Vigo D’Arsouilles x Olisco and owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. “He seems to enjoy Spruce Meadows. He’s a grand horse and I have big hopes for him,” Millar said.
He continued, “What Spruce Meadows has done for our sport in Canada is unbelievable. It’s helped to make our teams competitive around the world. That’s a big deal. It continues to help with the development of the riders. We’d have to travel to Europe and all over the place to get the experience and exposure for our riders and horses. It wouldn’t be practical to do. Here we have it right in our own country. I’ve been a great believer and supporter of Spruce Meadows. It’s a real thrill for me to have continued success here.”
Millar said that the level of show jumping at the Spruce Meadows Summer Tournaments has “risen tremendously.” He recalled, “If you go way back, it used to be one week here, then two weeks, and now we have five weeks of jumping. It used to be national and some Americans would come, and now it truly is international with top riders from all over the world. It’s just as competitive in many ways as the ‘Masters’ would be. You’re only as good as those you compete against, so to have this opportunity to be pushed by these horse/rider combinations that are so fantastic is just nothing but good for us.”
Millar was complimentary of Dixson and even drew some parallels to his most famous partner, Big Ben, noting that in the maternal bloodlines, he believes Dixson’s grandmother is Big Ben’s full sister. “Talk about an interesting thing. Okay, am I imagining things to say there are certain similarities in the character? But there really are,” he expressed.
While Millar terms Dixson as “a very easygoing guy,” he still has a very strong character, and that it takes persuasion and not force to make him successful. “You have to get him to buy into the ideas. You have to sort of sell it to him and convince him as to why he should partner with you on a certain venture. Then he’s right with you all the way,” he described.
Millar believes that Dixson has this in common with all top horses. “I believe that if you have to take the wins from a horse, there is a finite number of wins you can take. If a horse gives you those wins, the number that you may receive is infinite,” he commented. “Dixson gives me his efforts. I didn’t take anything tonight; he was right in the game with me.”
Crooks Takes First International Win at Spruce Meadows
The finish of the $33,000 Westjet Cup 1.45m could not have been any closer, with only one-thousandth of a second separating first and second place. With the slimmest margin of victory, Lauren Crooks (USA) and Navare D’Oriolles, a 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Derby Rouge x Le Gregol owned by Beatrice Mack, scored their first international victory at Spruce Meadows.
Crooks was one of eight combinations that made it to the jump-off. She and Navare D’Oriolles set the winning time at 39.833 seconds. Three horses later, Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Wang Chung M2S sped around the shortened course and finished a hair slower in 39.834 seconds. While the results are usually recorded to the hundredth of a second, it was necessary to go to the third decimal point to find the winner.
“The jump-off was a little tricky,” Crooks admitted. “There was a tight turn back inside to the wall. I honestly think that’s where I made up most of my time. My horse is so brave and he just found that exactly how I wanted it. I was then able to fly to the last jump on another inside turn. He really stepped up to the plate.”
Third place went to Jill Henselwood (CAN) and New Idol Z, who had one time fault in 46.62 seconds. Jordan MacPherson (CAN) and Piccobello du Val de Geer made a great bid for the win in 37.55 seconds, but had a heartbreaking rail at the last jump.
Going into the jump-off knowing she still had five coming after her, including Lamaze, Crooks knew she had to stick to her plan. “I didn’t try to think about how fast Eric would be and let it affect my riding,” she remembered. “I just had to go as fast as I could. My horse is so quick in the air and so efficient over the ground that I really just had to steer him and be as comfortable as I could with that pace. He was wonderful.”
Crooks has been riding Navare D’Oriolles since November. She and her brother Sean recently moved their business, Crooks Show Jumping, back to their hometown of Seattle, WA, from New York and Florida. Navare D’Oriolles was previously ridden by Francis Tress Roig, who competed with him at the Central American Games. More recently, he showed in the junior jumpers with owner Beatrice Mack. He is currently for sale and campaigning with Crooks, who started in the 1.40m division this winter in Florida and finished second in the CSI 2* Thursday event at Thunderbird before Spruce Meadows.
Crooks described him as “so honest and light on his feet.” She added, “He’s scopey and you can just sit there and let him do his job. It’s wonderful because he’s really straightforward.”
Having arrived at Spruce Meadows a week ago, Crooks has made the most of her time here having won a 1.40m competition yesterday and her first international competition today. She said with a smile, “I’ve won (at Spruce Meadows) in the past, but yesterday was my first ‘Spruce cooler.’ Today and yesterday, I’ve been checking off big milestones for me. I’ve always looked up to the riders who ride in the International Ring here. It’s one of the hardest venues in the world. It’s always been a dream of mine to win here and to win in the bigger divisions too. This is just one step that I’ve checked off.”
When asked if she has ever seen a victory of this margin before, she laughed, “No. I’m just grateful my horse has a long neck and I kicked as hard as I could, I guess!”
Conor Swail and Game Ready Continue Consistency
With so many entries in the 1.45m today, it was split into two $33,000 competitions. The first of those was the $33,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m and the winner was Conor Swail on Game Ready, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Andiamo x Polydox owned by Susan Grange. They were the fastest clear in 38.41 seconds out of seven in the jump-off and 40 total entries.
Second place went to Brianne Goutal (USA) on Zernike in 38.89 seconds, while Abigail McArdle (USA) and Cosma 20 were third with a time of 42.36 seconds.
Swail recounted, “In the jump-off, Brianne went in just in front of me and I was able to see her. She had a very good round, but he is also a very fast horse. It gave me a good idea of the speed that would be needed. Thankfully I beat her and no one beat me.”
While Game Ready has been showing in the 1.50m division, Swail decided to step him down to the 1.45m. “He obliged nicely and he enjoyed his easier day!” Swail commented.
Game Ready has a unique way of going, and Swail revealed that it took a while for their partnership to click. “I found him challenging,” he said. “The new relationship took a little while. He’s quite sensitive and he has his own way. I think it took him a while to get to know me also. It’s paying off now. He’s been unbelievably consistent since Florida. We’re both on the same page now.”
He continued, “He’s very careful. I never feel like I’m going to knock many jumps down. I think where he gets his speed (is that) he’s a little low. He’s good with his body and gets it high enough. It never feels unconventional even though sometimes it looks not so smooth. You have full confidence in him.”
While many find the path to victory in doing less strides than the horse in front of them, Swail thinks that Game Ready is faster because he doesn’t leave strides out. In turn, the horse stays confident. “He can do more steps and be faster. He’s shifty and very fast to turn. That’s where he gets a lot of his speed from,” he explained. “You can be quite safe with him and still be fast. I like my rounds to be repeatable. I like to be able to do that every time, not go and do something silly and hope you get away with it. I always try to keep the confidence high in my horses. We all want to win, but maybe sometimes it’s better to be second or third if you keep your horse happy and comfortable.”
Today’s win was yet another placing for Swail, who has had an incredible series having placed in 15 of the 19 FEI events offered so far. “It’s been unbelievable. It’s not normal,” he conceded. “The horses have just been amazing and I’m lucky to have Sue and Ariel Grange and her family giving me the opportunity. It’s a good relationship.”
The ‘Canada One’ Tournament continues tomorrow with the $25,000 Direct Energy Derby 1.45m in the All Canada Ring and the $50,000 RBC Financial Cup 1.60m in the Meadows on the Green. For full results and more information, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the brainchild of the Southern family who built a Show Jumping complex at the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. It was in 1976 that the first Spruce Tournaments were held, with annual spectator attendances reaching over 50,000 by the end of the decade. Today, Spruce Meadows boasts one of the greatest outdoor equestrian venues in the world and offers an incredible experience for riders and fans alike. Spruce Meadows focuses on the organization and hosting of show jumping tournaments of unmatched quality for junior, amateur and professional athletes in a manner that reflects basic family values in a clean, green and welcoming environment that celebrates the horse and encourages the breeding and training of quality sport horses and the teaching and development of athletes. For more information on Spruce Meadows, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
November 7, 2012 – Toronto, Ontario – Ten-time Olympian Ian Millar and 2008 Olympic Show Jumping Champion horse Hickstead were inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame. Presented by BMO Financial Group, the seventh annual Induction Ceremony and Gala was held on Sunday, November 4, 2012, in Toronto, ON.
More than 300 members of the equestrian community filled the Liberty Grand to full capacity to celebrate the inductions of Millar, who set a world record with 10 Olympic appearances in London, and Hickstead, the horse who captured a nation’s heart with his winning style.
Millar, 65, was inducted in the Individual Builder category. Fondly known as ‘Captain Canada’ to his legions of fans, Millar made his Olympic debut in 1972 and has been named to every Canadian Olympic Team since. Tom Gayford, teammate and chef d’equipe for many of Millar’s Canadian Show Jumping Team appearances, presented Millar with his Jump Canada Hall of Fame trophy.
Toronto, Ontario – In an incredibly special evening honouring the greatest ambassadors of our sport, Canadian show jumping legends Ian Millar (Builder) and Hickstead (Show Jumper Horse) will be the only two inductees at this year’s Jump Canada Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala. Presented by BMO Financial Group, the seventh annual black-tie event will be held on Sunday, November 4, 2012, at the Liberty Grand in Toronto, ON.
The unparalleled careers of Ian Millar, Canada’s most decorated show jumping athlete, and Hickstead, Canada’s most successful show jumping horse, will be celebrated during this year’s Ceremony.
While athletes have traditionally only been inducted once they have retired from competition, a special exception has been made in the case of Ian Millar, Olympic and Pan American Games medalist and two-time World Cup Champion, who, this summer in London, set a world record by becoming the first athlete in any sport, from any nation, to represent his country in 10 Olympic Games. Ian will be inducted into the category of builder.