Canadian Olympian Amy Millar of Perth, ON won the $125,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championship for the first time in her career on Nov. 4, 2017 at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.
This marked the second year in a row that the Millar family have taken the title home, with Amy’s father, ‘Captain Canada’ Ian Millar racking up a record 12th win in 2016.
“It feels amazing,” Amy said of her title, which she won against 23 of Canada’s top show jumping athletes after three foot-perfect performances over two days aboard her 2016 Rio Olympic partner, Heros (Canadian River x Clinton I), a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by AMMO Investments.
“Honestly, there are very few things that I get as excited about as the Royal Winter Fair,” she continued. “This show is so important to me and to Canada. The stands are filled with Canadians who love this sport, and (the Royal) has always been so prestigious, and has been such a big part of my life for so long. I have wanted this for probably the whole time I have been alive, so it feels pretty good!”
Amy’s road to the title began on Nov. 3 in the $25,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championship – Round 1, held as a speed phase, where jumping faults were converted into added time, and penalties were applied for every second a horse-rider combination went over the winner’s time. Amy and Heros left all the rails up, but finished 2.5 seconds off the lead to take third place, carrying forward a converted score of 1.25 penalties.
Making for an exciting night of show jumping, it was Ian’s perfect score of zero that Amy had to chase after the first round. Paired with his 2016 National Champion, Dixson (Vigo D’arsouilles x Olisco), a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Ian stopped the clock in 61.75 seconds. His Round 1 win served as a great tribute to the late Susan Grange, who owned Dixson along with her daughter, Ariel.
“We lost Mrs. Grange a short time ago and it was a terrible loss,” said Ian. “She’s done a tremendous amount for me and my career and I miss her greatly. She was a lovely horsewoman on top of it all.”
The full field of competitors moved on to the first leg of the $100,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championship – Round 2 on Nov. 4, which saw 2017 Royal Horse Show course designer, Guilherme Jorge of Brazil increase the height up to the maximum of 1.55m. From there, the top six were invited forward to a shortened yet challenging course to determine the Canadian Champion.
A 13th title proved out of reach for Ian after his Round 2 performance ended on 12 faults, keeping him just out of the top six, but he was equally thrilled to watch Amy move forward.
“(My dad) is amazing at supporting me and helping me with the plan,” explained Amy, who was also competing against her brother, Jonathon, in the Championship. “We all do this as a family and it’s a fantastic life.”
Their joint planning proved successful after Amy and Heros negotiated the second course fault-free and headed into the third as the ones to beat. Despite a hard rattle to the back rail of the oxer at fence six, and a momentarily lost stirrup following fence eight in the final test, Amy’s calm and calculated approach never faltered, and ultimately paid off with the big win.
“I just had to keep telling myself to ride well, jump clean and stay focused,” explained Amy. “Every time the thought of qualifying for international week or winning entered my mind, I pushed it away and thought, ‘just concentrate on what you know; ride well and jump clean rounds’ – and obviously it worked!”
Nipping at Amy’s heels, but ultimately settling for the Reserve Championship title was Francois Lamontagne of St. Eustache, QC. A quick, efficient ride in Phase 1 meant that despite lowering one rail for four added seconds, Lamontagne still finished fifth on a score of 2.73 with Chanel du Calvaire (Una du Calvaire x Kashmir van Schuttershof), his nine-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare who was a fan favourite for her exuberant and scopey jumping style. He added just one time penalty in Round 2 to make the leap to second with a final score of 3.73.
Third place went to rising star Ali Ramsay, 25, of Victoria, BC who laid down a clear round in 62.23 seconds for a converted score of 0.24 penalties in Round 1 aboard Hermelien VD Hooghoeve (Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve x Thunder van de Zuuthoeve), her 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. A rail in Round 2 brought her final score to 4.24.
Nicole Walker of Aurora, ON celebrated not only her 24th birthday, but also a fourth place finish on 5.34 penalties aboard Falco Van Spieveld. Isabelle Lapierre of Levis, QC wasn’t far off on 5.86 penalties for fifth with Cescha M, while Laura Jane Tidball from Langley, BC rounded out the top six aboard Concetto Son (9.06).
As the Champion and Reserve Champion, Amy and Lamontagne are invited forward to the international division at the Royal Horse Show, which kicks off on Nov. 7. Also invited forward based on their FEI world ranking positions are fellow Canadians, Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, BC, Keean White of Rockwood, ON, Vanessa Mannix of Calgary, AB, Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON, Ali Ramsay of Victoria, BC and Ian Millar of Perth, ON.
$125,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championship
Placing / Rider / Hometown / Horse / Score
1st / Amy Millar / Perth, ON / Heros / AMMO Investments / 1.25
2nd / Francois Lamontagne / St. Eustache, QC / Chanel du Calvaire / 3.73
3rd / Ali Ramsay / Victoria, BC / Hermelien VD Hooghoeve / 4.24
4th / Nicole Walker / Aurora, ON / Falco Van Spieveld / 5.34
5th / Isabelle Lapierre / Levis, QC / Cescha M / 5.86
6th / Laura Jane Tidball / Langley, BC / Concetto Son / 9.06
7th / Jonathon Millar / Perth, ON / Bonzay
8th / Tiffany Foster / North Vancouver, BC / Brighton
9th / Ainsley Vince / Burlington, ON / Darling
10th / Jordan MacPherson / Toronto, ON / Aanwinst
11th / Vanessa Mannix / Calgary, AB / Chemas
12th / Hugh Graham / Schomberg, ON / Knock Out 3E
For a full list of results from the 2017 $125,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championship, visit www.royalfair.org.