Ottawa, Ontario — Nine-time Olympian Ian Millar of Perth, ON, was simply unbeatable, guiding his two mounts to first and second place in the $10,000 Open Welcome held Friday, August 13, at the National Capital Show Jumping Tournament taking place at the Nepean National Equestrian Park in Ottawa, ON.
A total of 31 horses attempted the track set by course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil with nine successfully leaving all the rails in place to advance to the jump-off. Two of those nine horses belonged to Millar, giving him double the chance to win. Riding Star Power first, Millar sliced his way around the shortened jump-off course, taking the last fence on an unbelievable angle to stop the clock in 42.92 seconds. When he returned to the grass grand prix field with Dryden, Millar still held the lead. Not one to rest on his laurels, the 63-year-old show jumping legend gave it his best shot, guiding Dryden to a clear round in a time of 43.35 to also take second place.
“Star Power is a Dutch horse that went to Italy when he was seven, where his rider brought him along beautifully, and a lot of his training was done on grass fields,” said Millar of Star Power, a nine-year-old gelding that he purchased in November of 2009. “In Italy, he had his high school education, and now he is working on his PhD. These are two young horses; a little too young for the World Championships this year, but these are horses for the Pan Ams next year and then the Olympics.”
Millar, who became a grandfather to Lily Evelyn Millar Jukosky in May, has no intention of hanging up his riding boots any time soon.
“When you are doing what you love, you are always in a good frame of mind,” noted Millar, who was a member of Canada’s silver medal show jumping team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “What we do is never boring, and it is never work.”
Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, is known for his ability to ride at great speed, but he simply was not fast enough to catch Millar, having turned in a clear round in a time of 43.67 seconds aboard Azzaro Van’T Hagenhof.
“He’s been doing that for so many years now that it is expected,” said Candele, 39, of being beaten by Millar. “This was the first big competition of the week, so to be a part of it and get a good ribbon, you are pleased and feel that the horse is jumping well, and is ready for the big Grand Prix on Sunday.”
Two international competitors took fourth and fifth places. American Olympic gold and silver medalist Leslie Howard of Westport, CT, finished fourth riding Lennox Lewis 2. The pair are the defending champions of the $15,000 ATCO Derby, coming up on Friday, August 20. Katie McVean traveled all the way from New Zealand to compete in Canada this summer, and finished in fifth place riding the homebred Delphi.
Jenna Thompson of Calgary, AB, also jumped double clear to place sixth with Zeke while two-time Canadian Olympian Jay Hayes, who is also the Co-Chair of the National Capital Show Jumping Tournament, posted the fastest jump-off time, 41.47 seconds, but at the expense of one rail to finish seventh with Livarot.
The two-week National Capital Show Jumping Tournament runs from August 11-15 and 18-22 at the Nepean National Equestrian Park, conveniently located at the 417 Queensway and Moodie Drive. Highlights during the first week of competition include Saturday’s $10,000 Modified Grand Prix and Sunday’s $75,000 Brookstreet Grand Prix beginning at 2 p.m. FEI ‘O’ course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil is setting the tracks throughout the week on the grand prix field, widely considered to be one of the best grass jumping fields in North America.
The second week, August 18-22, will see Catsy Cruz of Mexico taking over course design duties. In addition to Saturday’s $75,000 Angelstone Productions Grand Prix and Blue Rodeo concert, highlights include the $10,000 CompetitiveJumpers.com Open Welcome on Thursday and Friday’s $15,000 ATCO Derby.
For more information on the National Capital Show Jumping Tournament, please visit www.hayesco.ca.
$10,000 Open Welcome – Final Results from Friday, August 13
1. Ian Millar Perth, ON Star Power 0:0 42.92
2. Ian Millar Perth, ON Dryden 0:0 43.35
3. Yann Candele Caledon, ON Azzaro 0:0 43.67
4. Leslie Howard United States Lennox Lewis 2 0:0 44.97
5. Katie McVean New Zealand Delphi 0:0 45.49
6. Jenna Thompson Calgary, AB Zeke 0:0 47.59
7. Jay Hayes Orangeville, ON Livarot 0:4 41.47
8. Ainsley Vince Milton, ON Frieda 0:4 41.87
9. Lauren Hunkin Kemptville, ON Larry 0146 0:4 45.00
Photo: Ian Millar riding Star Power won the $10,000 Open Welcome on Friday, August 13, at the National Capital Show Jumping Tournament in Ottawa, ON. Photo Credit – Michelle C. Dunn