Team: 2008 Olympic Games Silver Medal

Jump Canada Hall of Fame Celebrates New Inductees

PHOTO – From left to right Mac Cone, Ian Millar, Eric Lamaze, and Jill Henselwood claimed the team silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
PHOTO – Cealy Tetley

It had been 40 years since the Canadian Show Jumping Team claimed its first Olympic team medal. When Mac Cone, Jill Henselwood, Eric Lamaze, and Ian Millar packed their bags for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, all four dreamed of bringing home a medal for their country but likely had little idea that they would indeed be jumping off for an Olympic gold medal.

With quarantine requirements making horse transport to mainland China next to impossible, the Hong Kong Jockey Club generously offered to host the equestrian events at its Sha Tin venue, renovating and building state-of-the-art facilities and constructing a stadium of true Olympic proportions. Despite being far removed from the Olympic movement in Beijing, equestrian sport enjoyed the full spotlight in Hong Kong with spectators, already fans of horse sport due to Hong Kong’s vast horse racing culture, eagerly turning out in droves.

At the 2008 Olympic Games, team medals for show jumping were determined over two rounds held over two days, August 17 and 18, and followed the traditional nations’ cup format of counting the best three scores and dropping the fourth. A total of 16 countries contested the team medals.

Canada got off to a shaky start in the first round when Cone produced a 12-fault effort riding Ole, a horse owned by Sara Houstoun and Larry Evoy. Things started to look even grimmer when Olympic debutante, Jill Henselwood riding Special Ed, the reigning Pan American champions at the time, incurred 18 faults. Eric Lamaze, who would go on to claim the individual gold medal three days later, kept Canadian hopes alive by jumping clear with Hickstead. A four-fault round from anchor rider Ian Millar aboard In Style, owned by Susan Grange and Lothlorien Farm, put Canada back into the medal hunt.

At the end of the first round, Switzerland and the United States were tied for first place with 12 faults, Sweden was third with 13 faults, and Canada and Great Britain were tied for fourth place with 16 faults apiece. Canada was one of eight teams that had made the cut for the second round. Medal hopes were tantalizingly close, yet the news that Cone’s mount had sustained an injury and would not continue meant Canada moved forward with a three-rider team, with all three scores to count.

Down but not out, Canada returned for the second round ready to fight. Henselwood led off by producing a vital clear round with Special Ed, owned by Juniper Farms. Lamaze and Hickstead, owned by the Fleischhacker family’s Ashland Stables and his Torrey Pines Stable, dropped a rail for four faults. The pressure was on Millar to deliver and, in his record-tying ninth Olympic Games appearance, he did just that, guiding In Style to a masterful clear round and guaranteeing a team medal for Canada. The only question left to answer was whether it would be gold or silver.

Jump Canada Hall of Fame Celebrates New Inductees

PHOTO – The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games silver medal team members (from left to right) Ian Millar, Jill Henselwood, Eric Lamaze, and Mac Cone receiving their Jump Canada Hall of Fame awards from presenter Beth Underhill.
PHOTO CREDIT – Michelle C. Dunn

Canada had finished the two-round competition on a total of 20 faults but so had the Americans, forcing a jump-off for the gold. Going into a head-to-head battle under the lights without the luxury of a drop score put Canada at a distinct disadvantage. While the three Canadian riders only dropped one rail between them for four faults, the U.S. team was able to maintain a clear score sheet to earn the team gold medal.

Canada’s team silver medal represented the synergy of teamwork between four riders and their horses under the guidance of chef d’equipe Terrance “Torchy” Millar. Forty years after claiming its first in Mexico City, Canada had won its second Olympic medal in dramatic fashion.

Award Sponsored by Equestrian Management Group

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