Terrific chance at Spruce Meadows

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:18 AM ET

Thanks to a downpour that soaked the lush green grass at Spruce Meadows, there weren't too many spectators on the first day of the National.

One of them was the tournament's defending champion.

Calgary's John Anderson wasn't sitting on the sidelines by choice. Terrific, the Dutch Warmblood gelding he rode to the National's Canadian Championship a year ago, is recovering from injury.

With the potential for him and Terrific to take part in the World Equestrian Games this fall, Anderson will make sure his mount is at his best before strutting his stuff for Team Canada chef d'equipe Terrence (Torchy) Millar and his heir, Mark Laskin later this summer.

"I was actually making a trip to Europe, and he did something to his foot in quarantine a few days before I was supposed to leave," said Anderson, who made a short trip to Spruce Meadows Wednesday from his nearby ranch.

"We still to this day don't know what it was. I made the decision to give him a month and a bit off and just relax.

"I'm riding him at home every day right now, and I'm going to be coming out for the last two weeks of these events here."

Attempting to make amends for last year's stumble in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the idea of returning for the North American tournament brings a smile to Anderson's face.

You won't see many of those as he sits out this week's competition.

"For sure it's tough," said Anderson, who splits time between riding and hosting jumping events that complement the Spruce Meadows schedule.

"I want to be in the ring right now. Even with the weather. At the end of the day, I'm a competitor. I love the sport.

"OK, if it rains all week, I won't cry too much," he added with a laugh.

Not one to normally travel outside what he calls, The Bubble his ranch, Spruce Meadows and Sirocco Golf Club Anderson and Terrific had a spectacular start to 2010 during a trek to California for the HITS Thermal circuit running January through March.

Placing in the top 10 in each of the seven Grand Prix events they entered, the duo proved last year's coming-out party at the Spruce Meadows National was no fluke by the now 10-year-old horse.

"He was circuit champion. That's nice to know," Anderson said.

"To know if a horse is really good, you have to go on the road. For me, it's a bonus that he's so good here at Spruce Meadows. But you have to be able to jump everywhere to be the superhorse."

The cancelled trip to Europe would have been another step toward Terrific becoming the kind of mount worthy of the WEGs. Maybe even the Olympics.

"I want to do it again," said Anderson, who broke onto the show-jumping scene globally as a 19-year-old at the 1986 world championships and the Summer Games in Seoul two years later.

"I'm no spring chicken, but I'm not over the hill. I'm only 43."

A seasoned veteran. And it seems his horse is about to enter its prime.

Whether that takes them to the WEG in Kentucky this fall, or London in 2012 remains to be seen.

"It's anybody's game. A lot of the horses in our country, they're a little long in the tooth," Anderson said.

"Everything's kind of opening up. There's a bunch of great young aspiring riders who need to be inspired.

"The desire of the people here in this country, they love this sport. There's a lot of hungry people that want to make it happen. I'm one of them."


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