Horse Canada – Written by: Kim Izzo

Queen’s Plate favourite, Dixie Moon, is connected to a Canadian equestrian dynasty through trainer Catherine Day Phillips.

Catherine was destined for a life with horses. Her grandmother, Mrs. C.F.W. Burns, was a life-long Thoroughbred breeder and owner, and a sponsor of Canadian Olympic dressage rider Cindy Ishoy and her iconic mount, Dynasty. Her father, Jim Day, won gold in show jumping at the 1968 Olympics, and her mother, Dinny, was an accomplished Thoroughbred racehorse trainer. Combine that pedigree with her husband, Todd Phillips, and his own family’s deep roots in equestrian sport and the odds are that you could predict that the equestrian legacy would continue.

Todd’s own family counts two show jumping Olympians in uncles Mac Cone and Jay Hayes, and his brother is professional polo player Brandon Phillips who spends his life traversing the globe playing in tournaments in places as near as Toronto, New York and Wellington and as far flung as Europe and South America. But it was Brandon’s older brother Todd, who first galloped across a polo field. “With Todd being older he obviously was into horses first,” said Brandon. “My entire mother’s side of the family were show jumpers and horse trainers, and our father also show jumped.”

By the time Brandon was born, Todd was already playing polo. And even though their mother started Brandon’s riding career by showing ponies, it wasn’t long before he caught the polo bug and followed in Todd’s footsteps. “My brother was a huge influence in teaching and practicing, he quickly became my role model growing up,” Brandon said.

Despite their heritage, ending up full-time horsemen wasn’t necessarily a predetermined path for the brothers. “Neither Brandon or I grew up thinking that we would be in the horse business,” admitted Todd. “But horses are definitely in our blood, I think the horses chose us.”