The course was set up over 590 metres, there were 17 jumping efforts and a time allowed of 89 seconds, it would take a special horse and a talented rider to win the $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix today at Spruce Meadows.

There were 10 horse/rider combinations who were up to the task in the first round of competition. Course designer, Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA), created a fair test that allowed the best to move on to the jump-off round. 

The jump-off pitted the riders against each other, the course and the clock, for what was an exciting test of champions.  The jump-off contingency was certainly filled by some of the best in the business, former World, World Cup and Olympic Champion Rodriogo Possoa (BRA), Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Spruce Meadows all time great Ian Millar (CAN).

Ian Millar was the first of the group to return for the jump-off, he rode his gelding In Style perfectly to finish with a time of 43.37 seconds.  That round put the pressure on Lamaze who entered the ring to defend his CN Reliability Grand Prix title.

With his brilliant stallion Hickstead beneath him it seemed that they could repeat in front of the Canadian crowd.  As the came up to the second jump a tension could be felt across the stadium, it was the same Bicycle jump that cost them a victory in last years $1 million CN International.  The bike got the best of the pair again, as they finished their round with 4 jumping faults, settling for fifth place.

The final entry of the jump-off was Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa and his Dutch Warmblood gelding, Rufus.  Pessoa was looking to return to Spruce Meadows a champion for the first time since 2005.  They had a fast intermediate time and looked good coming up to the final fence.  Millar could only watch as Pessoa attempted the last obstacle.  The Canadian didn’t need to worry as the rail came down.  Pessoa finished faster than Millar but incurred four jumping faults.

It was the legend’s day, winning the CN Reliability Grand Prix for the first time since 1992 when he won it with Big Ben.  “It was a little bit of a drought as they say,” said Millar after his win.  The drought is no more, much thanks to Millar’s great partner In Style.  “There’s not much a course designer’s going to do that he’s not going to get.  Each year he gets a little bit better,” said Millar of his winning mount.

CN Reliability Grand Prix

1-         Ian Millar                   CAN               In Style

2-         Cara Raether             USA               Ublesco

3-         Beth Underhill            CAN               Top Gun

4-         Rodrigo Pessoa          BRA               Rufus

5-         Eric Lamaze              CAN                Hickstead

6-         Jenna Thompson       CAN                Zeke

7-         Jonathan Asselin       CAN                Rayana Chiara

8-         Beezie Madden          USA                Crème Brule

9-         Amy Millar                 CAN               Costa Rica Z

10-       Keean White              CAN                Celena Z

The TransCanada Parcours de Chasse closed out the International Ring for the day.  The speed competition had riders pushing their horses to the limit, knowing that faults would be translated into time, but a win would be possible with a rail. 

The race against the clock was a battle for the 24 horse/rider combinations that had 17 jumping efforts in their way including the west bank.  With $60,000 prize money on the line it would take a near perfect round to win the TransCanada Parcours de Chasse. 

Will Simpson (USA) was fifth in the ring with his 14 year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Nadia.  They pair were faultless and quick with a time of 89.11 seconds, setting a time to beat that would be hard for their competitors to match. 

It took until the 21st entry into the ring for Simpson’s time to be challenged.  That entry was Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist, Eric Lamaze and his 10 year-old Selle Francais gelding, Lord du Janlie.  The pair navigated the course cutting corners where possible and finished with a time of 88.77 seconds, barely a second slower than Simpson.

Lamaze’s time was good enough to win, “He’s a fast horse he has a big stride and knows where he is on the course. He is definitely a speed horse and never seems to be tired.” An exciting finish, had the record breaking crowd on the edge of their seats creating a perfect stage for the final day of the “National”.

TransCanada Parcours de Chasse

1-         Eric Lamaze              CAN               Lord du Janlie

2-         Will Simpson             USA               Nadia

3-         Leslie Howard            USA               Lennox Lewis 2

4-         Leslie Howard            USA               Coram

5-         Beezie Madden          USA               Exclusive

6-         Neck Dello Joio         USA                Draco

7-         Antonio Maurer         MEX                El Cigala        

8-         Sean Crooks             USA               Cincinatti La Silla

9-         Will Simpson             USA                Black Cherry

10-       Cody Auer                 USA               Okido