The 'Canada One' Tournament had three feature competitions in the Meadows on the Green yesterday with winners from three different countries. Canada's 10-time Olympian, Ian Millar, took the win in the $33,000 Duncan Ross Cup 1.50m with Dixson. In her first international win at Spruce Meadows, Lauren Crooks (USA) and Navare D'Oriolles were fastest in the $33,000 Westjet Cup 1.45m. Conor Swail of Ireland rode Game Ready to victory in the $33,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m.
The 'Canada One' Tournament wraps up on Sunday with the $100,000 Esso Challenge, the third FEI World Cup qualifier to be held at Spruce Meadows this summer. Admission and parking are complimentary for this week.
The $33,000 Duncan Ross Cup 1.50m had 44 entries, and they competed over a course designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Canada. Five were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off. First up was Eric Navet (FRA) on Quanto Fino 2. They were clear in a conservative time of 47.420 seconds for third place.
Ireland's Shane Sweetnam brought the winning pace down to 46.701 seconds on Diktator van de Boslandhoeve, which would hold up for second place. Fourth place went to Leslie Howard (USA) on Utah after they had four faults in 43.447 seconds.
Millar and Dixson were next in and they started with speed to the first jump. They finished with no faults in a quick time of 42.999 seconds. Millar said afterward, “Dixson's a naturally fast horse. My idea was to go along as quickly as I could without putting the jumps at too big a risk. It boiled down to a very efficient round. I didn't need to go quite as fast, but you never know with one behind you. You hate to leave it. I wanted to make sure.” The last horse in was Skylubet with Nicolas Pizarro of Mexico. They had eight faults in 47.801 seconds for fifth place.
Millar has been competing at Spruce Meadows since its inception and he was happy to win with yet another horse in the main ring. This is Dixson's first year competing at Spruce Meadows and his first win. The 10-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding is by Vigo D'Arsouilles x Olisco and owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. “He seems to enjoy Spruce Meadows. He's a grand horse and I have big hopes for him,” Millar said.
He continued, “What Spruce Meadows has done for our sport in Canada is unbelievable. It's helped to make our teams competitive around the world. That's a big deal. It continues to help with the development of the riders. We'd have to travel to Europe and all over the place to get the experience and exposure for our riders and horses. It wouldn't be practical to do. Here we have it right in our own country. I've been a great believer and supporter of Spruce Meadows. It's a real thrill for me to have continued success here.”
Millar said that the level of show jumping at the Spruce Meadows Summer Tournaments has “risen tremendously.” He recalled, “If you go way back, it used to be one week here, then two weeks, and now we have five weeks of jumping. It used to be national and some Americans would come, and now it truly is international with top riders from all over the world. It's just as competitive in many ways as the 'Masters' would be. You're only as good as those you compete against, so to have this opportunity to be pushed by these horse/rider combinations that are so fantastic is just nothing but good for us.”
Millar was complimentary of Dixson and even drew some parallels to his most famous partner, Big Ben, noting that in the maternal bloodlines, he believes Dixson's grandmother is Big Ben's full sister. “Talk about an interesting thing. Okay, am I imagining things to say there are certain similarities in the character? But there really are,” he expressed.
While Millar terms Dixson as “a very easygoing guy,” he still has a very strong character, and that it takes persuasion and not force to make him successful. “You have to get him to buy into the ideas. You have to sort of sell it to him and convince him as to why he should partner with you on a certain venture. Then he's right with you all the way,” he described.
Millar believes that Dixson has this in common with all top horses. “I believe that if you have to take the wins from a horse, there is a finite number of wins you can take. If a horse gives you those wins, the number that you may receive is infinite,” he commented. “Dixson gives me his efforts. I didn't take anything tonight; he was right in the game with me.”
Final Results: $33,000 Duncan Ross Cup 1.50m
1. DIXSON: 2003 BWP gelding by Vigo d’Arsouilles x Olisco
IAN MILLAR (CAN), Ariel and Susan Grange: 0/0/43.00
2. DIKTATOR VAN DE BOSLANDHOEVE: 2003 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Capital
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm: 0/0/46.70
3. QUANTO FINO 2: 2003 Oldenburg gelding by Quick Star x Stutbuch 1
ERIC NAVET (FRA), Vanessa Ahlmann: 0/0/47.42
4. UTAH: 2001 KWPN gelding by Andiamo x Jus De Pomme
LESLIE HOWARD (USA), The Utah Group: 0/4/43.45
5. SKYLUBET: 2002 Oldenburg mare by Baloubet du Rouet x Domino
NICOLAS PIZARRO (MEX), Ricardo Nizri: 0/8/47.80
6. POWERPLAY: 2004 Holsteiner gelding by by Casall x Limbus
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 1/81.39
7. NICE DE PRISSEY: 2001 Selle Francais stallion by Rosire x Amarpour
BRIANNE GOUTAL (USA), Remarkable Farms LP: 1/81.75
8. IV EVER: 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Now or Never x Indoctro
JILL HENSELWOOD (CAN), Brian Gingras: 1/82.76
9. DARLING: 2004 Westphalian mare by Cornet Obolensky x Gralshuter
AINSLEY VINCE (CAN), The Darling Group: 1/84.29
10. AVENSIS 4: 2001 Westphalian gelding by Arpeggio x Apart
ELIZABETH GINGRAS (CAN), B Gingras Equestrian Ltd: 1/84.90
Source: Press release from Spruce Meadows
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