Ian Millar only gets to compete in his own backyard once a year, so Canada’s elder statesman of show jumping rarely misses the National Capital Show Jumping Tournament.
Even though the Perth resident was honorary chair of a new committee overseeing the event, he skipped the competition last year.
He was busy helping Team Canada win an Olympic silver medal in show jumping in China.
The experience, he said, has really raised the profile of show jumping, especially in Ottawa, which is already one of Canada’s horse riding hotbeds.
“There are a lot more people aware of our sport and the riders involved. That I sure notice,” said Millar, who was riding in his ninth Olympics. “You could win every grand prix there is in Canada and that wouldn’t happen. It took the Olympics to make that happen.”
The tournament, which started yesterday and runs through Aug. 23, will see some of the best show jumpers from Canada and the world at Nepean National Equestrian Park.
As Millar explains it, this weekend is kind of a national competition, before some of the top international riders come to town for the $75,000 Brookstreet Grand Prix.
Two of Millar’s teammates from that Olympic medal-winning team, Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills and Mac Cone, will also be riding in the tournament.
While a difficult economy may have discouraged some riders from travelling long distances, event co-ordinator Ainsley Hayes said the tournament has around 25 per cent more entries than its inaugural year.
“Everyone who came last year had a fantastic time,” she said.
Some of the proceeds from the event will benefit the United Way Ottawa and JustWorld International, which will also see proceeds from the Horseless Horse Show — a fun event where people run through the course with no horse — tomorrow evening.
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