Schomberg, Ontario – Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill of Schomberg, ON, has withdrawn from World Equestrian Games contention. Underhill and Top Gun had been named to the team that will represent Canada at two international events in Spain. The day before the Canadian Show Jumping Team Long List for the upcoming 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games was announced on July 14, Underhill was informed that Top Gun would no longer be available to her.
“I was shocked, I was not aware that this was coming,” said Underhill. “The horse had been named to the European tour, and the World Championships were within reach. I had been campaigning him very much with the focus on peaking this fall for Spain and the World Championships. The owners had a change of heart and the horse is to be sold. As difficult as it is, I have to respect their decision.”
Underhill began riding Top Gun, a 10-year-old grey Dutch Warmblood gelding by Corland, in the summer of 2008. That fall, the pair finished second in the Canadian Show Jumping Championships held at Toronto’s Royal Horse Show. In 2009, Underhill and Top Gun were members of Canada’s fourth placed team in the $350,000 BMO Nations’ Cup at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” Tournament and, this past February in Wellington, FL, were members of the victorious Canadian team in the CN Nations’ Cup.
Less than one week before receiving the news that the horse was to be sold, Underhill guided Top Gun to victory in the $35,000 1.50m Kinnear Financial Cup in the international ring at the Spruce Meadows “North American” Tournament in Calgary, AB.
“I am obviously devastated and disappointed that I do not have the opportunity to continue riding this horse,” said Underhill. “Over the past two years, the horse has been a very special partner for me.”
Underhill and Top Gun had been named to the Canadian Show Jumping Team that will compete in Nations’ Cup competitions in CSIO5* Gijon, Spain, from August 31 to September 5 and the League Final at CSIO5* Barcelona, Spain, from September 16 to 19.
“It is such a heart break to learn that the horse is no longer available, especially when it is only a couple of months before a major championship such as the World Equestrian Games,” said Terrance ‘Torchy’ Millar, chef d’equipe of the Canadian Show Jumping Team and Chair of the Jump Canada High Performance Committee. “Beth had brought the horse along to the top international level and was a strong contender for the World Championship team. It greatly diminishes Canada’s chances when good horses are taken away, and it is especially disappointing that we do not have good horses available to us after winning gold and silver medals at the last Olympics.”
Underhill was first named to the Canadian Show Jumping Team in 1990, and has represented Canada in Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American Games competition. Two of her most memorable grand prix mounts were Monopoly, her partner at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and Altair. Underhill operates Beth Underhill Stables in Schomberg, ON.
Photo: Beth Underhill and Top Gun Randi Muster Photography