Here's what the top three in the $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex, had to say after an amazing day of competition at Spruce Meadows;
Ian Millar - the winner at the age of 67:
"It is amazing. I can honestly tell you that I didn't think I would win this Grand Prix again. I won it twice before, and it is a long time ago. And I have been second and third and so on, but I really didn't think I would win it again. The sport has changed so much and these young people live very fast and they know all the tricks and they are really good. I have so much respect and admiration for my fellow riders - they are that good! And to go up against them is no easy task and to take on the famous Leopoldo (the course designer) is also a painful experience."
Millar on the tracks set by Leopoldo Palacios:
"He really knows how to turn the screws down. He got just the right number in the first round. It is amazing how these course designers can do this with such consistency and I mean they might be off by one or two, but really never more. It is a group of them in the world that are that good and Leopoldo is certainly one of the very, very best. The second round was a little bit different from what it has been the other years. It was interesting how he used the pair of doubles, because in other years the liverpool combination has been extremely difficult and in this case it wasn't really so much the problem - it was what you did with the five stride distance to the next double combination. When I rode down to the liverpool combination it was in the sunlight and the other was in the shade and Dixson took a look at it and he didn't really know where I wanted him to go so he weaved a little big. And you had to hold left or you wouldn't get there properly and he didn't really understand for a split second. Then he followed my eye and we were good to go."
Millar on the jump-off:
"Then the jump-off followed and the order to go in the jump-off was determined by our speed in the two previous rounds, so had Miss Kessler gone faster earlier she might have been second in that jump-off! But anyway I had the good fortune of going second so I saw exactly what she did and her strategy was correct and she did just what I would have done if I was leading off. Just put enough pressure on and hope that the other one makes a mistake. She put enough pressure on and I did a little here and there and that was the difference."
On winning this extremely rich class:
"It was a heck of a payday as you can imagine. It is just a trill, it is beyond words."
Ian on his winning ride Dixson:
"Dixson is a distant relative to Big Ben. He knows when to rise to the occasions, and Big Ben always did. Big Ben you never just told what to do, because that would never go well. And I trained Big Ben in the way my wife trained me, she left me thinking that it was my bright idea when it was really her idea. So I learned that from her, I figured it out after about 30 years so I trained Big Ben that way and Dixson is exactly the same. You got to sell him on the idea and let him think that it is half way his idea and then it goes. And he really want to be a good horse. I am so happy to have him."
On the question if Ian knew that Dixson had this win in him:
"Yes. Whenever you buy a horse you really believe, otherwise you shouldn't buy them. And I really thought that it was there. He was a little tricky to ride and to train, a little strong and that was his reputation in Europe. To do this type of courses they can't be strong, they have to be so responsive. It has to be a harmony between horse and rider. It has taken time, to develop that partnership. I was saying the other day that we are 80 % on the way there, we are still not there. In other words I believe we can be even better. It is always thrilling when you hope that a horse shall do it and they really do do it, because most of the time they don't."
On this win compared to the previous ones:
"It was in -87 and -91 the last times and it is a long time ago. I had other horses during those years and sometimes when I walk a course I look up in the sky and think "Big Ben, where are you when I need you". Because I walk a course and I know he would do it for fun. And when you had a great horse, that can sometimes be a bad thing for a rider because the next one doesn't quite measure up. With a horse like Big Ben he knew what I was thinking before I almost thought about it, and vice versa. If he made a little error I knew it and corrected it and if I was making an error he do it right back for me. So we hardly knocked down many rails, it was that kind of deal. We just don't get that many times in our lifes and so it is thrilling. I had a lot of really good horses, but the great ones are special. Dixson I really think that he might be the real thing for me."
Reed Kessler on being second in the Grand Prix at Spruce:
"My horse loves it here, she always has. and some of our biggest wins have been here. And I didn't come to the summer series since I moved to Germany last year. I really missed it and I really wanted to make sure that I could come here for the Masters. Cylana loves it, she jumps her best here and you just have the feeling with a horse - she just loves this class. And I have the feeling that if I can get it right one day she is gonna win it."
"Marie Etter (3rd) and her husband Daniel were the ones who found Cylana for me so Marie had a very good day, she was kind of second and third."
Marie Etter on ending third:
"For me it is dream to be here. I have been watching this show on tv every year and now I'm here. I had a good show every day and the finish was perfect. He tried everything for me and especially in the second round when I had no distance in to the combination he tried really hard. I am so happy and so surprised, I am not used to jump on this level or at these kind of shows. I was feeling a bit small on the first day and today I'm feeling a little bit less small.
On her horse Admirable:
"I bought Admirable when he was seven. He was then jumping small national classes in Germany and he had no shoes behind and he was not clipped. I fell in love when I saw his eyes. He was big and a bit fat and was not really good looking, but when I saw his eyes I knew I wanted this horse. When I was pregnant my husband Daniel Etter competed him one year at the big shows and then I took over again. The horse has had two colic surgeries and he was really bad. He was dying. He spent two months in the clinic and we did everything we could. We had a really good really good connection before, but I must say that it has become even stronger. Of course I'm really happy to be third, but I'm also happy that he fights for me - that feeling is unbelievable. We do this because we love horses and when you feel that your horse is fighting for you and giving everything for you that is the best feeling."
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