Equestrian show jumper Ian Millar is one of the greatest under-recognized athletes Canada has ever produced. My opinion was confirmed, once again, Saturday, November 5, 2016, after watching the Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Championships Round Two at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
Sure, he’s been dubbed decades ago ‘Captain Canada’ by Canadian horse show jumping fans, but not many other Canadians, sports fans or otherwise, are familiar with the designation – unless they happen to channel surf through coverage of Olympic show jumping finals on the CBC – and even then don’t realize that this man is the Gretzky of horse show jumping.
At the age of 69, Ian Millar not only continues to show jump, he continues to compete, and he continues to win. On December 5, he scored top prize at The Royal’s Greenhawk Canadian Show Jumping Finals, the second of a two-night competition, riding Dixson an incredible 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood he was unable to take to the Olympics last summer due to medical reasons. It was actually the first time Ian Millar didn’t ride in that global competition in 40 years – he holds to world’s record for competing in the most Olympics: ten.
Millar, co-owner of Millar Brook Farms in Perth, Ontario, runs his equestrian operation with ‘Team Millar’ – his daughter Amy and son Jonathon who competed against him in The Royal competition. After the first round on Friday, Team Millar had secured first, second and third place finishes.
However, after the final top six round on Saturday evening, Amy Millar and Jonathon Millar were pushed out of the top three spots by Mac Cone riding Gasper Van Den Door, who took second place and Hyde Moffatt riding Granturo, who placed third.
Jonathon Millar took fourth spot riding Bonzay and his sister Amy Millar riding Heros took fifth place. After riding a clean round on the first jumping course of the night, crowd favourite Beth Underhill riding Count Me In placed sixth.
Top six jumpers divide $100,000 in prize money, first place taking approximately $25,000.
Notably absence from this year’s competition was 2015 winner Jill Henselwood, along with Canadian Equestrian Team members Yann Candele and Tiffany Foster. Foster will compete in The Royal’s international competition starting Tuesday, November 8, along with Canadians Jonathon Millar, Cone, Moffatt and yes, Ian Millar.