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What a Difference .03 Seconds Can Make!

Source :  Equestrian Connection

Ian Millar & Aftershock
Ian Millar & Aftershock missed out on claiming the $1,000,000 CN International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows today by the narrowest of margins. Millar finished in second place, claiming $200,000 in prize money while the victory went to Germany's Ludger Beerbaum & Goldfever 3.

The 11-year-old Hanoverian chestnut stallion bested a field of 45 to be named the champion in front of a crowd of over 57,000 fans.

"There was nothing that I was waiting for more to happen than winning the Grand Prix in Calgary", said Beerbaum. "In 17 years I think I only missed one year. I've been watching all the really, really great athletes in the sport. The first year I came here, Nick Skelton (Great Britain) won almost everything. And then it was Ian (Millar) and Big Ben I always admired. They made it look so easy. When they went in the jump-off I was doubting if one day I would get there or even be close."

In the past few years Beerbaum has been near the top, but hasn't up until today managed to be in the winner's circle. "And the pressure I really must say became more and more," he further explained. "And last year, again I was second and I then started to doubt if it would happen. It's a really great moment. I would like to express a little bit more, but I don't know in English. I could maybe express it better in German, but it is a very special moment".

Canada's Ian Millar was also extremely happy with the day's events.

"It was made all the more special for my wife Lynn and I and it's really going to be something when our son (Jonathan Millar) hears about it because he spent 2 years working on this horse for me", said Millar. "And even better, this horse's mother and father both competed here at Spruce Meadows. This big horse has the best of both worlds: the power of the father and the real fighting will to win of the mother."

Millar also expressed his happiness over the fact that Aftershock is Canadian bred.

"It's a particularly special ting to have a horse that you bred yourself here (at Spruce Meadows). And you hear about all the credit the Hanoverian, the French horses and the Dutch horses and so on, and so on, and so on...but it's great to have a Canadian horse rise to the occasion here in Canada as well. So all the more special in that regard."

But proving that even the best laid plans do not always run smoothly, Millar talked about his not-so-stellar week at Spruce Meadows.

"I had a plan back in December to come here with Aftershock and everything was going along beautifully until we got here. And then things didn't go so well on Wednesday," explained Millar. "Only marginally better on Thursday, alright on Friday so I shifted gears to my other horse (Nicos) yesterday (BMO Nations' Cup) and then back to Aftershock today because he just didn't get as quickly comfortable to the environment as I hoped he would."

But Aftershock proved he could get comfortable with the environment, and looked very relaxed on course. "For him to get with the program like he did today is quite spectacular for a 9-year-old and bodes well for his future", said a very happy Millar.

The course designer for this year's CN International was Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela, long-time designer at Spruce Meadows and also designer of the 2002 Sydney Olympics. Palacios was extremely happy with the results his course produced.

"In the third round, I expected less things. The horses jumped fantastic and the whole thing was super. The conditions for jumping, the weather, everything helped to have good jumping", said Palacios. "The second round I was very tough, but I've been here for many years and always 1 double clean is what I expect, and sometimes I have 2 jump-offs. I really took pleasure in the 2nd round to have a jump-off against the course, not against the speed but against the good riders. I feel very proud to be sitting here with these 2 maestros of the sport(Beerbaum & Millar). They are super riders and I feel very proud. For this I am very happy with the course."

Stay tuned for more interviews from the 2002 CN International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows.

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