The opening day of the Spruce Meadows Canada One CSI 4* tournament featured a world class entry competing in the $60,000 Great West Life Cup. Spectacular conditions and an enthusiastic crowd greeted the starters over the 12 obstacle 520 metre Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) designed course. After a  first round that featured challenges at every portion of the course, 11 managed to advance to the jump off, including some of the sport’s biggest stars as well as a couple of rising stars.

Ian Millar (CAN), Eric Lamaze (CAN), Richard Spooner (USA), Rich Fellers (USA) and Michael Whitaker (GBR) highlighted those advancing to the jump off. When the dust settled it was veteran Leslie Howard (USA) scoring somewhat of a surprise win with her young gelding Utah.

“He’s finally starting to get it. He has been a real project of me,” commented Howard after the win. “When you look at the horses and riders in this line tonight this is very special. I couldn’t be happier.”

Howard, one of the sport’s all time greats with two Olympic medals and a World Cup title, has struggled to find a top international mount in recent years and with Utah scoring his second win of the Spruce Meadows FEI season she may well be on the cusp with the 10 year old Dutch gelding. The victory came against many horses and riders that have competed and succeeded at the top international and championship level.

The Spruce Meadows Canada One Tournament continues through Sunday, culminating with the $65,000 ESSO Challenge “World Cup” Grand Prix.  

For a complete tournament schedule visit the Spruce Meadows website at

Great West Life Cup – Top 10
1. Leslie Howard                        USA                Utah
2. Michael Whitaker                  GBR               Viking
3. Mario Deslauriers                  USA                Diablo
4. Ian Millar                              CAN                Star Power
5. Richard Spooner                   USA                 Apache
6. Eric Lamaze                          CAN                Coriana Van Klapscheut
7. Kent Farrington                    USA                 Uceko
8. Mark Watring                       PUR                 Green Sleeps Vioco
9. Karl Cook                              USA                  ASB Conquistador
10. Emily George                      CAN                 Quidam’s Ramiro