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Electric Crowd Treated To Spectacular Sport Tonight, As American Leslie Howard Captures The $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge At The Royal Horse Show

Beth Underhill, runner-up in the Greenhawk Canadian Cup last week, finished second. Her horse Viggo was named Leading Canadian Horse.

TORONTO, Nov. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - America's Leslie Howard is a legend in the sport of show jumping and she handily won the $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge tonight at the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show, Toronto, in front of a standing-room only crowd of equine enthusiasts.

Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill was runner-up again tonight, following her reserve-champion finish in last weekend's Greenhawk Canadian Cup. Underhill's mount Viggo also received the "All Canadian Cup" this evening, awarded to the Leading Canadian Horse in the International Division.

Of twenty-three to start the Royal's marquee event, seven were able to keep the jumps up to progress to a jump-off round. The crowd sensed they were in for something special tonight when the first three clean consisted of Team USA's three-time Olympian McLain Ward, followed by ten-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar, and then four-time Canadian Champion Yann Candele.

Michel Vaillancourt's outstanding course design once again forced the riders to take all the chances and turn the impossible turns. As a result, the clean rounds were very hard to come by. It came down to talent, speed and more than a little bit of luck.

"My horse has been jumping well all week," explained Howard tonight. "He was unlucky to have a rail down in the World Cup but tonight's course was a great course for him. McLain Ward I'm sure was faster, but luck didn't go his way with the rails, and it didn't again for Harrie Smolders. I thought 'Wow, maybe there is a chance I could actually win this!'"

Howard truly blazed around the jump-off, practically barrel-racing the turns she had to make to shave off the seconds. Nobody was able to come close to her time and leave all the jumps in the cups.

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