Harrisburg, PA - Jonathon Millar and Victoria took the gamble and won in the $10,000 Open Jumper, Gambler's Choice class, sponsored by Morgan Stanley, at the 65th Annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
The Gambler's Choice, an exciting class where each jump is assigned a point value from 10 to 120 and each rider sets his own course with the hopes of accumulating the most points, added an extra challenge this year. After the rider finishes their course they then have the chance to jump the Joker fence for an additional 200 points, but this year they had a choice. The riders could choose between the Joker fence and the All In Double-or-Nothing fence, set at five feet, six inches tall, the tallest obstacle on course. Just as the name implies, if they jumped the All In Double-or-Nothing their total points would be doubled if they jumped clear and if they knocked it down they lost all of their points.
Millar and Victoria had an exceptionally good round and then decided to take the gamble. They cleared the final fence, doubling their score to 1580. There was a three way point tie for second with 1520 points, but Pablo Barrios, of Venezuela, aboard G & C Quick Star 1 1 had the fastest time of the tie to emerge in second place.
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Millar said, "the real trick [to the Gambler's Choice] is to find a real flowing course. It totally depends on how the course designer sets the course. There is a lot of strategy involved and that strategy really depends on the horse. Victoria is naturally a very quick horse. My plan was to find a good course and just keep going. The All In jump added another element of risk and strategy, it really made the order of go important."
Victoria, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, is owned by Karen Sparks, a student of Millar's. They have had her since the beginning of the year and this was their first time competing her at an Indoor show. Millar described Victoria as "remarkable, she is so brave, so bold. She will have ten days off after this show and then she will be my second horse in Toronto."
In speaking of the venue, Millar said, "the new footing is wonderful. It makes a world of difference. It's so much brighter and the horses can jump and turn so much better. This place looks great."
Millar, who also won the Open Jumper Speed High Score Award, sponsored by Morgan Stanley, said that he would like to thank Karen Sparks and his father, Olympian Ian Millar. "We school together, train together, show together. We really look out for each other."
Rodrigo Pessoa and Palouchin de Ligny took the Reserve Champion Open Jumper Speed High Score Award.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS) continues through Saturday, October 23. Special attractions include Thursday night's Pennsylvania Big Jump, Friday's carriage racing, and the grand finale, Saturday's $75,000 Grand Prix de Penn National.
In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the PNHS offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia.
General admission for Thursday, October 21 to Friday, October 22, is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. General admission for Saturday, October 23, is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. As always, children under 6 are admitted free in general admission seating. Convenient parking is also free.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proud of its tradition of supporting equine and youth programs. The show benefits the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Details are available at the horse show's website at www.panational.org or by calling the horse show office at 717-770-0222.
Photo Caption: Jonathon Millar and Victoria take the gamble over the All In Double-or-Nothing fence in the Gambler's Choice. (Al Cook Photo)