Canada’s Lamaze and Millar optimistic on Olympic chances

Jill Henselwood and George.
Jill Henselwood and George. © Cealy Tetley,

After finishing fifth in the Olympic team showjumping at London 2012  with just three riders, Canada’s Olympic showjumpers are optimistic about their chances in the individual final at Greenwich Park on Wednesday.

Despite the disqualification of Tiffany Foster just before to the start of the first round of team competition on Sunday, her teammates Jill Henselwood, defending Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze, and 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar  rallied to finish fifth overall in the final team standings.  All three scores had to be counted as Canada did not have the advantage of a drop score.  Canada and Brazil were the only nations competing in Monday’s team event with three members.
Entering Monday’s team final in sixth position carrying a total of five faults, the Canadians added 21 faults to bring its two-round total to 26 faults.  Both Millar and Lamaze qualified to move forward to the two-round individual final on Wednesday, August 6.

Setting a world record in London by competing in more Olympic Games than any athlete in any sport, Millar incurred four faults in Monday’s competition.  His rail came at fence nine ‘a’, the first element of a double combination.

“It was a regrettable four faults,” said Millar, 65.  “I thought we were good, to tell you the truth.  I heard the rub and wasn’t sure if we had it down or not, and I was not about to look over at the scoreboard!  In Star Power’s history, if he’s going to have a rail, he’s likely to have it at a tall vertical of the combination.”

Millar finished three rounds of individual qualification tied for 11th place with a total of eight faults.

“He gets better every day, and I’m optimistic about Wednesday,” said Millar of Star Power, an 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding owned by Team Works.

The top 35 athletes from the original starting field of 75, limited to a maximum of three individuals per nation, advance to the two-round individual final on Wednesday, August 8.  All athletes start with a clean slate of zero penalties.

Eric Lamaze and Derly Chin de Muze.
Eric Lamaze and Derly Chin de Muze. © Cealy Tetley,

Lamaze also qualified for the final with a total of nine faults for 22nd position.  Lamaze, who was only carrying one fault coming into Monday’s event, had rails down at the ‘b’ element of the triple combination at fence seven, as well as number 10.

“It was a difficult course for my horse; it was a difficult course for many horses,” said Lamaze, 44, of his mount, Derly Chin de Muze, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable.

As the defending Olympic Champion, Lamaze said of his chances on Wednesday, “My horse is young and inexperienced, but we all start from zero. Anything can happen.”

Henselwood, 49, had two rails down, at fence 10 and fence 12, riding George, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Brian Gingras.

“I thought George was awesome,” said Henselwood, a member of Canada’s silver medal team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games riding alongside London teammates Lamaze and Millar.  “He’s green.  He’s tried so hard at these Games and with a little more experience, he would jump clear.”

In the team final, the Olympic equestrian venue of Greenwich Park erupted when Great Britain won the gold medal in a dramatic jump-off.  Both Great Britain and the Netherlands were tied with a total of eight faults following two rounds of team competition to force an all-deciding jump-off.

To the delight of many of the 21,000 spectators, Great Britain finished the jump-off with a perfect score of zero faults to earn its first team gold medal since the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.  The Netherlands incurred 12 faults in the jump-off to take the team silver.  Saudi Arabia earned its first Olympic team medal in show jumping, taking the bronze medal with 14 faults.

Switzerland placed fourth with 16 faults while Canada was fifth with 26 faults. Sweden and the United States tied with 28 faults for sixth while Brazil finished eighth with 67 faults.  From the original starting field of 15 nations, eight teams qualified to compete in the team final.

Ian Millar and Star Power.
Ian Millar and Star Power. © Cealy Tetley,

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