He's ba-ack!

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Captain Canada is back on the top of the Spruce Meadows podium.

Ian Millar and his mount, In Style, sped their way through a jump-off, beating Beezie Madden and Authentic en-route to the CANA Cup title yesterday at the Masters.

The betting money was on Madden, who blistered cleanly through the jump-off in 39.60 seconds but Millar followed immediately with a time of 39.32 and said his horse has all the goods after being slowly brought up behind his other steed, Promise Me.

"Last year I was protecting him very carefully because he has that quality and now he's stepping to the front and he's ready to go to it," said Millar, who hails from Perth, Ont., and picked up a cheque for $13,000.

"He'll be my horse in the BMO Financial Nations' Cup on Saturday. He's that nice balance of all the power and plenty of speed.

"He's not one of those horses that you say he can only jump high and wide or a horse that only goes fast. He absolutely strikes a nice balance of being able to do both."

In Style is a 10-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding owned by Millar, who has competed in eight Olympic Games, and could prove to be a star on the show jumping scene.

As for Madden, she said she believed she had pretty much wrapped up the win with her time, even though she knew there were still two more to go in Millar and Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa.

"I thought it had a chance to hold up. I thought they'd have to be pretty fast to beat it," said Madden, who lives in Cazenovia, N.Y.

There were 11 horse-rider combinations in the jump-off with Nick Skelton of Great Britain, who rode Russel, was third in 39.78.

Canadian Chris Pratt was sixth with his mount, Rivendell.

STYLISH PROTECTION: Many of the riders at Spruce Meadows this week are sporting new, sleek-looking helmets.

Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist and American star Beezie Madden are among those who have switched over to the stylish GPA riding helmets.

Madden's is decorated with the Stars and Stripes and, while it looks great, she's wearing it for the added protection and comfort.

"I got mine for Aachen two weeks ago and that was the first time I've worn it in a competition," said Madden, who is one of the top riders in the world.

"It's a little lighter than the old ones. It's cooler, it fits your head a little better and it's got a cushion in the back for your neck."

The new head protection is super-lightweight while offering superior protection and ranges in price from US $300 up to $1,200 for a carbon-based model that is stronger than steel.


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