Beth Underhill of Schomberg, ON, claimed the Canadian Show Jumping Championship title on Saturday night, November 2, at the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 97th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.
The $125,000 Henry Equestrian Canadian Show Jumping Championship was held over two phases on Friday and Saturday nights. Having competed for $25,000 in prize money during the opening speed round on Friday, riders returned to the Coca-Cola Coliseum in reverse order of standing to tackle the $100,000 two-round finale. Canadian Olympian Amy Millar, 42, of Perth, ON, had won Friday night’s speed phase, giving her the advantage of being the final competitor on course in the opening round of Saturday’s competition.
The drama began to unfold when Underhill was foot-perfect over the course set by Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt while Millar made it all the way to the final fence before knocking a rail out of its cups for four faults riding Truman, a 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Mylord Carthago x Kolibri) owned by Millar Brooke Farm Ltd. and Overlund.
Carrying their scores forward, the top six riders from round one advanced to an all-deciding second round. Millar jumped clear the second time out with Truman, leaving her on four faults overall. A rail down would cost Underhill the title, but the Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American Games veteran would make no mistakes, guiding Count Me In home fault-free in front of a sold-out home crowd to take her first Canadian Show Jumping Championship title at the Royal Horse Show.
“It means the world to me,” said Underhill, 57, of her victory. “I was watching the Mounties perform the Musical Ride earlier, and I was actually getting quite emotional. I felt so proud to be a Canadian. I said to myself in that moment, “Make tonight count.” It really inspired me to do my best.
“With a horse as lovely as Count Me In, I always try to give him the best ride that I possibly can, and he gave me his all yesterday and tonight,” continued Underhill of the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes) owned by Sandy Lupton and Robert Caswell. “It was fantastic to compete in front of a sold-out crowd, and you really, really felt it. As a rider, you step into that ring and there’s nothing like. It’s why we do this. It was a wonderful start to the week.”
For the second year in a row, Millar took the reserve Canadian Championship title. In 2017, she won her first Canadian Championship with Heros before finishing runner-up in 2018.
Sam Walker, 17, of Nobleton, ON, finished third overall after jumping clear in both rounds on Saturday night riding Coralissa for owner MarBill Hill Farm. Millar’s older brother, Jonathon Millar, 45, also of Perth, ON, finished fourth in the final standings riding Daveau owned by the Millar family’s Millar Brooke Farm.
Underhill is one of six Canadians who were pre-qualified for the Royal Horse Show’s international division based on their standings in the Longines World Rider Rankings. She will compete alongside Erynn Ballard, Mario Deslauriers, Eric Lamaze, Amy Millar, and Ali Ramsay when international show jumping begins on Wednesday, November 6. Two more spots were available to the top two finishers in the Canadian Championships not already qualified, with those invitations going to Jonathon Millar and Walker.
Karl Slezak Claims $20,000 Horseware Ireland Indoor Eventing Challenge
Karl Slezak of Tottenham, ON, and Fernhill Wishes kicked off Saturday night’s competition by racing to the win in the $20,000 Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge. Fresh off their last competitive appearance at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, the pair sat in third place following Friday night’s opening round of competition, but a heart-pounding round on Saturday night catapulted them to the top of the leaderboard.
“He’s usually a pretty chill horse,” said Slezak of Fernhill Wishes, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Slezak and Kirk Hoppner. “To feel him have that energy and that little extra pizzazz in atmospheres like this is awesome. It’s easy to do the footwork, add strides, or leave them out because he’s so energetic in this atmosphere.”
Kendal Lehari of Uxbridge, ON, held the lead coming into Saturday night riding Totally Frank, but a cumulative time over the two rounds left them in second place. Third place went to Toronto’s own Brandon McMechan riding Oscar’s Wild.
More than 1,000 horses from around the globe are competing for $980,000 in prize money during the 10-day CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show. VIP Platinum and Gold seating, as well as group and individual tickets, can be purchased HERE. All Royal Horse Show tickets include general admission to The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
For more information, visit royalfair.org/horse-show.
Funding support for The Royal has been provided by the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, and the City of Toronto.
About The Royal
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the world’s largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian event. This year marks the 97th anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada, from November 1-10, 2019. For competition schedules, live webcasting, results, and to purchase tickets, please visit www.royalfair.org.
$125,000 Henry Equestrian Canadian Show Jumping Championship – Final Standings
Saturday, November 2
Rider Hometown Horse Total Penalties
1. Beth Underhill Schomberg, ON Count Me In 0.18
2. Amy Millar Perth, ON Truman 4
3. Sam Walker Nobleton, ON Coralissa 5.25
4. Jonathon Millar Perth, ON Daveau 6.27
5. Sean Jobin Toronto, ON Darius 13.28
6. Lexi Ray Campbellville, ON Jewel 8 21.32
$20,000 Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge
Saturday, November 2
Rider Hometown Horse Faults Total Time
1. Karl Slezak Tottenham, ON Fernhill Wishes 0 174.86
2. Kendal Lehari Uxbridge, ON Totally Frank 0 176.24
3. Brandon McMechan Toronto, ON Oscar’s Wild 5 174.67
4. Dana Cooke Mooresville, NC Luksor 10 179.67
5. Diana Burnett Blackstock, ON Manny 10 218.49
6. Selena O’Hanlon Kingston, ON Eddy’s Martini 15 195.80