The Canadian Show Jumping Team comprised of Mac Cone of King City, ON, Amy and Jonathon Millar of Perth, ON, and Chris Sorensen of Caledon East, ON, placed sixth in the $112,900 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup, presented by Edge Brewing, held at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, FL, on Friday, February 19.
The United States claimed victory with a final score of 13 faults following two rounds of competition, anchored by two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden riding Breitling LS. Mexico placed second with 21 faults while Colombia took third with 24 faults. Australia placed fourth with a final score of 28 faults, followed by Ireland in fifth with 33 faults. Canada posted a score of 45 faults to stay ahead of New Zealand and El Salvador.
The $112,900 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup was the first of three qualifying events for the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final to be held in September in Barcelona, Spain. Four countries – Canada, El Salvador, Mexico and the United States – were in the race for qualifying points.
Amy Millar, 39, produced the best effort for Canada, posting scores of four and four riding Heros. In the first round, Amy dropped a rail at the ‘b’ element of the double combination at fence 10, while a foot in the water counted for four faults in the second round. Throughout the competition, rails fell everywhere on the testing track set by Irish course designer Alan Wade.
“I’m really pleased with my horse; he handled the course easily,” said Amy. “The fact that he could come in and handle this today makes me very happy because it was not an easy course, as you can see from the scores. My horse is only nine years old, and he’s only going to get better.”
Heros is a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Canadian River x Clinton) owned by AMMO Investments, a group of owners consisting of Amy, Ann Matthews, Karen Sparks, Patty Overlund and Patrick Overlund O’Brien. Amy and Heros have enjoyed great success since being partnered together in 2014 and are now stepping up to the highest levels of international show jumping competition.
“It’s nice to go into these bigger classes, step up, and have the partnership with the horse,” said Amy, who was making her first Nations’ Cup appearance since the 2009 Nations’ Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain.
The Nations’ Cup was a true family affair as Amy was riding alongside her older brother, Jonathon. Her father, ten-time Olympian Ian Millar, is also competing as an individual at CSIO4* Ocala, which concludes Sunday, while her five-year-old daughter was in attendance to cheer her on.
“It’s wonderful, I love hanging out with my family and riding with my brother and my dad,” said Amy. “It was really nice to have Ian here helping us and supporting us all. And I don’t go anywhere without Lily; she’s my littlest fan.”
While Amy and Heros produced the best result for Team Canada, Jonathon, 41, posted scores of eight and eight riding the experienced Star Power, his father’s mount at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Sorensen and Bobby, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Concorde x Joost) owned in partnership with Britland Hughes, were the pathfinders for Team Canada, producing scores of 12 and nine. As the anchor rider, 2008 Olympic team silver medalist Cone, 63, also produced scores of 12 and nine riding the ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Gasper van den Doorn, for owner Chadburn Holdings.
“Everybody tried really hard; we all wish that our result was better,” said Amy. “I think we all learned something today. I’m really pleased, and I think the others are, too, to have had the opportunity to come and do this Nations’ Cup.
“I’m always happy to come to Ocala,” continued Amy. “These guys have done a great job here today, and I was very pleased to come to Ocala. I spent most of my younger years here, so it’s like coming home.”
Canadian Show Jumping Team chef d’equipe Mark Laskin of Langley, BC, said of his team’s performance, “I’m obviously disappointed with our result today. However, the positive takeaway is that these riders and horses now have another Nations’ Cup experience under their belts, which hopefully will pay off in the future. We are going to have to pull up our socks when we go to Mexico for the second leg of our regional qualifiers in April.”
The Canadian Show Jumping Team will next compete at the $150,000 Nations’ Cup in Wellington, FL, on Friday night, March 4. Then it’s on to Mexico for the second Furusiyya Nations’ Cup qualifier to be held during CSIO4* Coapexpan, Mexico, from April 28 to May 1. The third and final Furusiyya Nations’ Cup qualifier will take place at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC, on June 3. The top two teams in the qualifying league will be invited to contest the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.