For the second time in as many days, Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill riding Count Me In led the victory gallop at the CSI2* Ottawa International I, this time topping the $36,100 CSI2* Classic, presented by RBC, on Saturday, July 13, at Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON.
“I really didn’t expect to win again today,” said Underhill of Schomberg, ON, who also won the $36,100 CSI2* Open Welcome on Friday, July 12. “I’m just so excited. Count Me In gave me two beautiful rounds. He was a pleasure. He really rose to the occasion today. He loved the extra incentive of the crowd and the atmosphere; it felt like he just came up a notch. It was a lovely course and great competition, and we’re just really happy to be here at Wesley Clover Parks again and have such a wonderful week!”
Underhill was one of 33 entries to contest the first-round track set by 2016 Rio Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil and one of seven to advance to the tie-breaking jump-off. As the second entry to return for the short course, Canadian Olympian Amy Millar of Perth, ON, and Truman, owned by Millar Brooke Farm, went double clear and set the time to beat at 44.72 seconds.
Underhill and Count Me In, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes) owned by Sandy Lupton and Rob Caswell, were the next in the ring and tripped the timers tenths of a second faster than Millar, taking over the lead in 44.30 seconds. Millar’s time would ultimately hold up for second place, while third place with a time of 46.25 seconds went to the USA’s Jonathan McCrea riding Pewit No No for owner Candy Tribble. With the final double-clear performance of the day, his wife, Christine McCrea, captured fourth place with a time of 50.10 seconds riding Jarcobond van den Oude Eik, also owned by Tribble.
“I watched Amy go, and I thought that she laid down a beautiful track and was going to be very difficult to beat,” said Underhill. “She was able to catch a better oxer than I to the last line and did one less step. My horse doesn’t have as big of a stride as her horse, but he was very handy on the turns, so it just worked out in our favour that we were just that little bit quicker across the ground in the beginning. I was really excited to be the winner today because we pulled out all the stops, and he delivered.”
Underhill is a consistent top competitor at the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments, having also claimed victories with Count Me In in the $100,000 CSI2* Classic in 2016 and the $50,000 Brookstreet Grand Prix in 2017.
This year, Underhill selected the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments as her final preparatory show before she and Count Me In travel to Lima, Peru, as the Canadian team alternates for the Pan American Games, to be held in August.
“It’s very exciting to be back in contention and to have a horse of this quality to be able to make major games teams so we’re really thrilled,” said Underhill, who earned both team and individual silver medals at the 1991 Pan American Games and a team bronze medal at the 1999 Pan American Games.
“It’s important that we keep jumping quality courses and quality venues [leading up to the Pan Am Games], and that’s what Mike Lawrence and Karen Sparks and their team have created here – a venue that’s top class and top quality,” continued Underhill. “We have the best course designers and fantastic jumps; the footing is second to none. What is also extra special is having the crowds come out and support us. It lends extra atmosphere to the horses. All of those things combined is what makes it one of our favourite stops on the show jumping.”
Following his victory and before heading to Peru, Count Me In is making at least one more important stop.
“Right now, we’re going to the taco truck to get ice cream,” said Count Me In’s groom, Kath Long. “I told Count Me In that if he won, he could have ice cream!”
Week one of the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments concludes on Sunday with the $5,000 Canine Equine Relay, presented by Royal LePage Realty and featuring dogs from Dogz Canine Sports Centre, beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 14. Prior to the start of the popular relay class, a special “Meet and Greet” with 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar will be held 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Find more information on all of the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments online at www.OttawaEquestrianTournaments.com, and find the latest updates, news, and photos by following Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments on Facebook here.
$36,100 CSI2* Classic, presented by RBC – Saturday, July 13
Rider Hometown Horse Faults Time
1. Beth Underhill Schomberg, ON Count Me In 0:0 44.30
2. Amy Millar Perth, ON Truman 0:0 44.72
3. Jonathan McCrea United States Pewit No No 0:0 46.25
4. Christine McCrea United States Jarcobond van den Oude Eik 0:0 50.10
5. Erynn Ballard Tottenham, ON Charming Force B 0:4 45.37
6. Andrew Kocher United States Coldplay 31 0:4 58.17
7. Stevie Murphy Charlottetown, PE EBAB RK 0:12 47.91
8. Veronica Bot Burlington, ON Cool Down 3 1
9. Hyde Moffatt Brantford, ON Grafton 4
10. Karen Sparks Kanata, ON Calvin Klein 4
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