Canadian Olympian Amy Millar of Perth, ON, scored victory on opening night of the Royal Horse Show, winning the first phase of the $125,000 Henry Equestrian Canadian Show Jumping Championship on Friday, November 1, at the 97th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.
Canadian Olympic individual silver medalist Michel Vaillancourt set a welcoming speed track for the 19 entries vying for the national title. Millar, 42, completed the track in the fastest time while leaving all the rails in place to win the opening phase riding Truman, a 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Mylord Carthago x Kolibri) owned by Millar Brooke Farm Ltd. and Overlund. Beth Underhill, 57, of Schomberg, ON, came the closest to catching Millar’s time of 57.97 seconds but when the clock stopped at 58.33 seconds, Underhill settled for second place with Count Me In, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes) owned by Sandy Lupton and Robert Caswell.
Millar claimed her first Canadian Show Jumping Championship title in 2017 riding Heros and came agonizingly close to defending the title in 2018 when she finished runner-up to Nicole Walker of Aurora, ON.
“The Canadian Championship is a gift that The Royal gives to us Canadian riders,” said Millar, who watched her father, Ian Millar, claim 12 Canadian Show Jumping Championship titles over the years. “It’s prestigious, so I’m hoping to hold it together tomorrow night. I’ve been coming here all my life and it’s a big deal to Canadian riders. It doesn’t matter how long you have been coming here, it will always be special.”
Third place went to Amy’s older brother, Jonathon, 45, also of Perth, ON, who took the early lead in the competition with a time of 62.51 seconds riding Daveau, owned by Millar Brooke Farm. Young rider Mackenzie Wray, 20, of Loretto, ON, made an impression in her Canadian Show Jumping Championship debut, bringing Jewel LVP home clear in a time of 62.58 seconds for owner Makim Holdings Inc. Ali Ramsay, 27, of Victoria, BC, rounded out the top five riding Casino, owned by Ramsay Equestrian Inc. Despite incurring an eight-second penalty for two downed rails, their adjusted time of 64.70 seconds held up for fifth place.
Having competed for $25,000 in prize money during the opening round, riders will return to the Coca-Cola Coliseum in reverse order of standing to tackle the $100,000 Henry Equestrian Canadian Show Jumping Championship, Round 2. Amy will have the advantage of being the final competitor on course and has a second Canadian Championship title set firmly in her sights.