Toronto, Ontario, Nov. 10, 2005 -- Jill Henselwood, age 43, of Oxford Mills, Ontario, won her first Canadian Show Jumping Championship title at the Royal Horse Show November 5.
Twenty-five of the top horse-rider combinations in the country vied for the title over two consecutive days. Friday night's Round One saw defending champion Ian Millar of Perth, Ontario, emerge the winner riding In Style, a Holsteiner gelding owned by Susan Grange of Cheltenham, Ontario. In Round Two on Saturday, riders competed in the reverse order of standings, putting Millar in the driver's seat as the last rider into the Ricoh Coliseum.
While Millar waited for his turn, his fellow competitors piled on the pressure. By the time Millar entered, Henselwood had only one time fault over two rounds of jumping to finish with a total of 2.41 penalties. There was no room for error--a rail down would result in a four-fault penalty and cost Millar his tenth Canadian Show Jumping Championship title. As he navigated the challenging track set by course designer Leopoldo Palacios, the sold-out crowd of 6,500 show jumping fans watched anxiously and, when the second to last fence on the course came down, the crowd let out a shriek of disappointment.
There was no disappointment for Henselwood, however, as she claimed her first Canadian Show Jumping Championship crown after more than 15 years of competing at the Grand Prix level. A veteran of World Championship and Pan American Games as well as two World Cup Finals, the win at the Royal Horse Show was a waiting game for Henselwood.
"Ian led the way so strongly right out of the box on Friday with his 'take no prisoners' game plan, and I know that routine of his so well," said Henselwood. "The crown was his for the taking--if he left the jumps up the title was his. There was nothing I could do but wait."
Her win came aboard a horse new to the Grand Prix level. Black Ice, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, was shown throughout the summer by one of Henselwood's students, Kelley Small, with Henselwood taking over the reins two weeks ago at a competition in Harrisburg, Pa., in preparation for the Royal Horse Show.
Henselwood is currently tied in the Canadian League World Cup standings with Chris Pratt, 36, of Belfountain, Ontario, who picked up the Reserve Canadian Championship title. Riding Rivendell, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Susan Grange, Pratt posted the day's only double clear rounds to finish second in the standings with a total of 3.24 penalties. Millar, 58, finished third with four faults.
For more information on the Royal Horse Show, including complete schedules and results, visit www.royalfair.org.