Ten-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar of Perth, ON, kicked off the Ottawa National Horse Show by claiming the top two spots in the 1.35m Open Jumpers, presented by Omega Alpha, on Wednesday, July 11, at Wesley Clover Parks in the heart of Canada’s national capital.
Millar, aptly dubbed ‘Captain Canada’ by his fans, earned the win with a jump-off time of 37.88 seconds aboard Ericson, owned by Millar Brooke Farm, and he finished second riding another Millar Brooke Farm entry, Truman, with a jump-off time of 39.37 seconds.
Millar took over the rides on both Ericson and Truman for his daughter, Canadian Olympian Amy Millar, who is expecting her second child. Ian will look to continue his success with both horses throughout the two weeks of top show jumping competition at Wesley Clover Parks, with the Ottawa National Horse Show continuing through July 15 followed by the CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Show from July 18-22.
“I’ve been enjoying Ericson immensely, but he’s just on loan,” said Ian of the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Padinus x Iroko). “He’ll go back to Amy; she’s in really great shape, and we’re all very excited for her and looking forward to welcoming her new son next week. I know she can’t wait to get back to her horses, too.”
For Ian, competing and winning at Wesley Clover Parks is particularly special, as he has spent much of his career competing at the facility and has been instrumental in developing the Parks’ riding school program and on-site competitions.
“I grew up in this area,” explained Millar, 71, who is competing at the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments alongside his son, Jonathon, and daughter-in-law, Kelly Soleau-Millar. “Now here we are in Ottawa, doing this and bringing top international competition to the city. It would not happen without the Matthews family and Wesley Clover Parks, and it’s an honour to be involved in it and to be able to say to our friends and neighbours, ‘hey, this is what we do all over the world, now you can come and see it right here in Ottawa!’”
Echoing similar sentiments was Lauren Hayes of Orangeville, ON, who topped a 49-horse starting field to win Wednesday morning’s 1.25m Open Jumper competition aboard Faloma, an eight-year-old mare owned by Norman Amondsen. Hayes has been competing at Wesley Clover Parks “since the beginning,” and her family ran the horse show for four years prior to the Matthews family and the Wesley Clover Parks Foundation taking over the management in 2013.
“They’re doing a fabulous job,” said Hayes, 37, following her win over the track set by Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt. “The field is great; it’s always been a really nice field to jump on, and the atmosphere here is great. They incorporate the city and the spectators, and they really do a great job making it feel like a special horse show.”
As for her mount, Hayes explained, “I just got the ride on Faloma two weeks ago. She jumped great today. She was brave, and she walked right out there like she owned the place!”
Taking Wednesday’s final victory on the grass grand prix field to conclude a successful opening day of competition was Kerrigan Brown of King City, ON. She and her mount, Colibri, won the 1.30m/1.40m Junior/Amateur competition, presented by Flow Water.
“We’re very excited to be back for our fourth year of the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments, and we’re off to a great start,” said Karen Sparks, Executive Director of Wesley Clover Parks. “We’ve made some infrastructure changes that I’m really excited about, and they’re being well received. We put in a new warm-up ring and we made some tweaks to the stabling area to make it even more comfortable for the horses on site.
“We also have CIBC Wood Gundy on board as a new sponsor for our $15,000 National Grand Prix next week which is really a lovely addition and a great way to end the horse shows,” continued Sparks. “We’ve got great weather, and we couldn’t be happier to have our tournaments underway!”
Competition highlights at the Ottawa National Horse Show include Thursday’s $20,000 Open Welcome, presented by Wellings of Stittsville, at 4 p.m. and Friday’s $10,000 Canadian Hunter Derby Series Open Hunter Derby, presented by Pepsi, also at 4 p.m. Saturday will feature the $50,000 Grand Prix, presented by the Brookstreet Hotel, and the first week of competition will culminate with the $7,500 1.25m Speed Derby, presented by Millar Brooke Farm, and the $2,500 1.15m Canine Equine Relay, presented by Royal LePage TEAM Realty.
Competition begins daily at 8 a.m. and admission and parking are by donation. Spectators are encouraged to come out and explore all that the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments have to offer!
Visit www.OttawaEquestrianTournaments.com for more information on the Ottawa National and CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Shows. Find the latest updates, photos, and information by following Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments on Facebook here.