Big Ben (horse)

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Big Ben (April 20, 1976 December 11, 1999) was a world champion show jumping horse.

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Born at Hooydonk Farm in northern Belgium, Big Ben was a large chestnut Warmblood gelding who grew to be 17.3 hand. In 1983, he was sold to a farm in the Netherlands then a few weeks later was purchased by equestrian rider Ian Millar and brought to Millar Brooke Farm in Perth, Ontario, Canada. In 1984, the horse began competing in show jumping events in what would become a long and successful career. With Millar on board, Big Ben won more than 40 Grand Prix titles including six Spruce Meadows Derbys, as well as taking the world show jumping championship two years in a row. His first World Cup came at Gothenburg, Sweden in 1988 followed by another the next year in Tampa, Florida. As well, in 1989 he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in Cheltenham, England, the Grand Prix of Bordeaux, France and the Grand Prix of Stuttgart, Germany, earning the number one ranking in the world for Millar.

Big Ben also won the du Maurier International twice which at the time was the world's richest grand prix event. After 11 years of competing around the world, in 1994 Big Ben retired to the farm in Perth, Ontario. He was inducted in the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame and joined the great thoroughbred racing horse, Northern Dancer as the only other horse to ever be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. In 1999, Canada Post honored the horse with his image placed on a stamp. His story was told in the book titled "Big Ben" by author, Lawrence Scanlan.

A national icon, Big Ben was 23 years old when he was euthanized at Millar Booke Farm on December 11, 1999 after two veterinarians said nothing could be done to ease the suffering caused by a persistent case of equine colic, a problem that nearly killed the horse on two prior occasions. He was buried on a knoll overlooking the farm.

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