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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

IAN MILLAR

Inducted in 1996

Member Details

Date of Birth: January 6, 1947
Place of Birth: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sport: Equestrian
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1980

Team gold, Alternative Olympic Games

1979, 1983, 1991

Team silver medal, Pan-Am Games

1987

Team and individual gold medal, Pan-Am games

1987, 1991

Du Maurier Ltd. International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows, Calgary

1988, 1989

Two consecutive World Cup victories

Honoured Member IAN MILLAR
Inspire

Story

For more than three decades, Ian Millar has been at the forefront of the Canadian equestrian scene. He has made more than 80 Nations Cup appearances and has been a member of every Olympic and nearly every Pan-American Games team since 1971. With numerous medals and over 130 Grand Prix and Derby victories, Millar is one of the world's most successful riders. Millar's greatest victories came aboard his most prized mount, the legendary Big Ben. After teaming up in 1984, Big Ben and Millar became the only horse-and-rider combination to win two World Cup finals with back-to-back victories, in 1988 and 1989. They were also the first to claim the World Cup by winning all three segments of the competition. In both 1987 and 1991, they won the du Maurier Ltd. International at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, the world's richest Grand Prix event. Big Ben and Millar represented Canada in more than 30 Nations Cup events and were members of seven winning Nations Cup teams. They competed in three Olympic Games and won two Pan-American gold medals. Among their many other titles, Millar and his grand gelding claimed more than 40 victories in Grand Prix jumping events and collected more than $1.5 million in prize money. Before retiring the horse from competition in 1994, Millar took Ben on a cross-country tour to bid farewell to his loyal fans. Big Ben then settled down at Millar Brooke Farm near Perth, Ontario, where he lived out a happy and active retirement until a bout of colic led to his death in 1999. "Big Ben is ours in trust," Millar said. "He really belongs to Canada. He touched the whole country." Big Ben will be remembered not just as a successful show jumping horse but as a national icon and a Canadian treasure. For his achievements, Millar received the Order of Canada in 1986. He was also named Ontario's Male Athlete of the Year in 1989. He won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing after competing in a record of nine Olympic Games.


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