Mill Spring, NC – October 12, 2019 – Conor Swail (IRL) and GK Coco Chanel nailed their jump-off to a win in the $134,000 Gary Sinise Foundation Jump for Our Heroes Grand Prix CSI 3* presented by Lowe’s at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) at Tryon Resort, stopping the jump-off timers in 40.172 seconds. Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA) and Collin, a 2007 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Colandro x Amethist) owned by Santa Cecelia Stables LLC, claimed reserve on a jump-off performance of 39.116 seconds with four faults, while third-place honors went to Rowan Willis (AUS) and Lucinda Huddy and Rowan Willis’ Diablo VII, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Douglas x Cavalier), who put in a 40.452-second jump-off ride with four faults to secure the podium finish.
“I thought he did a very nice job; there were eight clean out of 50 so it was very well built,” Swail shared of the course designed by Michel Vaillancourt (CAN). “You needed a more experienced horse just to make sure and get the back rail. The beginning was tricky and then that double line caused enough trouble, and I suppose the combination was a little scopey since it was oxer to oxer.”
Swail continued, “The jump-off also was very difficult with a lot of sharp angles and everything was coming up late. It was very difficult to keep that smooth and I think that was probably why there weren’t a lot of clear rounds.”
Swail confessed that the 2008 Holsteiner gelding (Clarimo x Lerano 2) owned by Vanessa Mannix, who he has been working with for a couple years, is not the easiest horse to ride: “He has his own mind sometimes and can be a little difficult, but when he goes well it normally ends up being a win.” Swail elaborated, “We have learned to work together very well now at this stage and we have a good relationship. The consistency is growing all the time; there’s a lot of good results.
“This is maybe a week early, but to win this is fabulous,” admitted Swail, who hopes to continue his winning streak for next week’s $384,000 Gary Sinise Foundation Grand Prix CSI 5*. “I won the [Rolex Grand Prix CSI] 5* last year on Rubens LS [La Silla Triumph]. This horse [GK Coco Chanel] is very capable of winning again next week and it would be great to get the double win. I’m looking forward to it.
Mill Spring, NC – October 20, 2018 – Conor Swail (IRL) and Rubens LS La Silla dazzled in the $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, which set the stage as the most competitive Saturday Night Lights class of the 2018 season at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Swail and Rubens LS La Silla, a 2006 La Silla Stallion (Rebozo Ls La Silla x Cash) owned by Rose Hill Farm, flew through jump-off timers in a quick 39.804 seconds.
Subsequently, Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, a 2007 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Silverstone x Matterhorn) owned by Skara Glen Stables and Whipstick Farm, placed second with a time of 42.076 seconds, and with eight added faults in the jump-off. Margie Engle (USA) and Royce, a 2004 Oldenburg stallion (Cafe Au Lait x Grandilot) owned by Gladewinds Partners LLC, took third place earning a time of 42.076 seconds and with twelve faults added to their second-round time.
Only three riders returned to the short-course, designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA), and Swail maintained the pair’s stronghold on the lead. The duo was the first to go clear and Swail noted his plan going into the first round. “My horse has had a great year so far and he was coming in here with a lot of confidence. I thought that the time was going to be a little bit of an issue for me, but thankfully I squeezed just inside it.”
Swail continued, “It started off a little scratchy for us at the start. I think it was because we haven’t competed in five weeks. The second half of the round he jumped beautifully. We squeezed just inside the time, but thankfully there weren’t many more in the jump-off.”
Trailing behind Swail was fellow Irishman Paul O’Shea, who scored another second-place finish aboard Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, after coming off a podium placing in last weekend’s Grand Prix CSI 3*. “I saw Conor go on the screen,” explained O’Shea, “and he didn’t look really fast, but he was really fast and is always really fast, so that didn’t tell me much, really. My horse has been jumping really well this year and we have been competing in Nation’s Cups all year. He won the Grand Prix here exactly a year ago and that was the last time we went this fast. He’s had a great year and it’s nice to finish with a result like this.”
Much like Swail’s mount, Engle noted that third place mount Royce is also coming off of a bit of down time. Despite this, the stallion remained swift and competitive, landing on the podium with promising results. “Royce felt great,” stated Engle. “In the first round he jumped amazingly. He was way up and over everything, and I think it look a little bit out of him. It was his first time back under the lights in a while. I think I got a little hungry. He’s been second like the last five or six Grand Prixs I’ve been in, so I took a little maybe too much of a shot at the third fence at the vertical. That one he rubbed light and then after that I think he just kind of emptied out. The first round he felt amazing and right on game.”
All three competitors echoed their gratitude toward their mounts, elaborating on the fact that each will get a week off as they plan out their next stops on their calendars. Swail concluded, “My two guys that I have here are heading over to have a week off next week, then they are heading to Lexington and then up to Toronto. After that, we will go to Florida and that wraps up the year.”
Ireland’s Conor Swail and Flower did nothing but win at the Thunderbird Show Park, as the pair completed the sweep by topping the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Langley, kicking off the west coast sub league of the series.
Although declared for the east coast sub league, Swail arrived on the west coast, hungry for valuable ranking points, and the Irish rider came away with the lion’s share of those by proving fastest in a seven-horse jump-off designed by fellow Irishman Alan Wade. Christopher Surbey (CAN) and new mount Daylight VDL finished second, and Jamie Barge (USA) and Luebbo were third. Earlier in the week, Swail and his 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare also won the Maui Jim Welcome Stake and the Steel-Craft Door Products Cup.
“I just continued with the same process that we came here with. It was working very well, so there was no need to try to change too much. My mare was absolutely outstanding, and it was really good to finish it off with the win.” — Conor Swail (IRL)
Last to go in the jump-off, Swail had only Surbey to catch, and a loose gallop up the first three fences left him with room to spare down the final line. Swail and Flower ended up comfortable winners; they were nearly four seconds faster that the runners up.
“I knew the time was easily attainable,” Swail explained. “[Flower] is very good at running and jumping, so I let her run and jump the first few jumps. I didn’t take any major risks and just knew that, with the way she was jumping, she would leave the jumps up as long as I didn’t make any mistakes.”
The North American League continues with a return to the east, with the qualifier in North Salem (NY) on Sunday 17 September 2017.
Conor Swail (IRL): “It’s an early relationship that I have with [Flower]. She is a little unique. She can be quite difficult to ride at times. She’s very spooky and can see stuff that’s not there. She has an extremely funny character, but when she goes into the ring, she’s not spooky at all. She’s dead brave and very careful. I’ve been trying to level out all those situations and make her trust me as much as we can. It’s getting much more consistent. We’ve won a lot since I got her in early January. I feel now that I’m starting to get all the pieces in the right places consistently.”
Christopher Surbey (CAN): “For me, my horse is not as naturally quick as Conor’s horse. He has a really big stride, but he’s a bit slower moving. I had a plan where I could leave stride out here or there. I don’t have much experience with this particular horse. My goal was to be clear and as quick as I could, but I left a lot on the table.”
Mill Spring, NC – October 19, 2016 – Conor Swail (IRL) and Cenzo narrowly edged fellow Irishman Shane Sweetnam and Cornwall for the win in the $35,000 1.45m Horseware® Ireland Opener CSI 5* to begin the week of international competition during Tryon Fall V at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Swail and Cenzo made quick work of the jump-off track as the last pair to enter the George H. Morris Arena, securing a time of 35.056 seconds. Sweetnam (IRL) and Cornwall crossed through the timers in 35.582 seconds for second place honors, while Kent Farrington (USA) and Willow earned third with a time of 35.596 seconds.
In Swail’s first appearance at TIEC this season, the veteran Irish rider guided Cenzo, a 2007 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Harley VDL x Cavalier) owned by Ilan Ferder & Tal Milstein to first place in the class, which featured a strong count of 50 entries. The pair drew late in the order and capitalized on their additional time to observe the other 14 combinations qualified to test the jump-off track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA). Seventeen original pairs qualified for the jump-off round while three combinations decided to voluntarily withdraw before the start.
“I thought that it was a nice course for the first day and there were a few questions there. It was certainly a careful course. The jump-off ended up quite fast,” explained Swail. “I went last so I was able to watch how everything had gone and unfolded in front of me.”
“Basically, when I went in I knew that my horse was going to have to go very fast and do everything well. Thankfully today, that’s how it worked out for us,” he added, commenting on his strategy for the short course, which saw the top four combinations finish less than seven-tenths of a second within his winning time.
Swail has established a successful relationship with the gelding throughout the year, as he took over the ride this past winter season and has placed in numerous FEI competitions, garnering top five finishes in Wellington, FL, Coapexpan, Mexico, Spruce Meadows, Canada, and St. Lô, France.
“I started riding him in Florida at the start of the year and he’s owned by Ilan Ferder,” he elaborated. “He’s a very good jumper but can be a little bit difficult to ride. He’s brave and scopey though. We’ve had a reasonably successful year with him and it’s nice to finish up feeling like we’re progressing well.”
Cenzo is still young and is gaining valuable experience with Swail piloting from the irons, but looks to be a strong mount for the future. His adjustability stands out as a quality that will be essential to his development in international competition next season.
“His strengths are that he is careful and has a big step, but also has a short step as well. Equally, when we need to balance and put in that step he does it quickly and whenever we need to leave a stride out he does that quickly. I think with those attributes it makes him a fast horse,” noted Swail.
Swail will compete two horses this week in the highly anticipated FEI CSI 5* at the venue and feels the “luck of the Irish” may be playing in his favor for the remainder of the week.
“From what I see so far this is an amazing facility. There’s a lot of space to ride your horse with beautiful stables and a good arena. For me, it’s great that I started with a winning round here,” he smiled. “I do believe that I have lucky shows and unlucky shows. The way that this is starting off, it looks like it’s going to be a good one.”
For more information on Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) and surrounding amenities, please visit www.tryon.com.
Richard Spooner and Cristallo. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB, Canada – One of the most challenging competitions at the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby always has plenty of drama for spectators. Sunday was no different as Richard Spooner (USA) and Cristallo won for the second year in a row and third time in their careers. Lisa Carlsen (CAN) and Worlds Judgement finished second, while Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Ridley were third.
In the ATCO Classic 1.45m, Conor Swail took the win aboard Cenzo. Sunday’s competitions marked the end of the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex. It was another incredible week of turnout at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, with 34,561 in attendance on the final day and 79,455 throughout the week.
The Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ Tournament runs June 15-19 with more top CSI 5* show jumping competition, featuring the Scotiabank Cup 1.55m on Friday, June 17, the Repsol Cup 1.50m on Saturday, June 18, and the highlight competition, the CP Grand Prix, on Sunday, June 19.
There were 15 entries in the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby, and 12 completed the course. The course, which was designed by Leopoldo Palacios nine years ago, is the same each year. The test of endurance and stamina asks questions at a variety of jumps, including double liverpools, the table bank, the derby bank, and the Devil’s Dyke. There are 19 numbered obstacles and 25 jumping efforts on course. While the derby has been held since 1990, the course changed in 2007. Since then, there have only been three clear rounds.
The early pacesetter was Irishman Daniel Coyle on Ridley, a 10-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding (Ustinov x Adiantus AS) owned by Susan Grange. They just missed joining the jump-off as they had four jumping faults and one time fault in 166.91 seconds. They would finish in third place.
Coyle only recently traveled to the United States for a job through Conor Swail and Barry O’Connor, so his relationship with Ridley is a new one. But he has experience in derby competition, having competed in the Hickstead Derby for the last three years.
“I never won it or came close to winning it, but I always loved doing it,” he said of the Hickstead Derby. “I actually hadn’t planned to jump this class on the horse. We thought maybe it would be too much for him; he’s only nine and only just getting to this level. When I heard there wasn’t an awful lot in it, I said we might as well try. It’s his type of thing. He’s so quiet and does absolutely everything you ask of him. He’s a brilliant horse for these types of classes. He’s a real trier; he’ll try every time. I’m really glad now that we jumped him in it.”
Eleven trips later, it was Lisa Carlsen and Worlds Judgement, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Judgement, a horse that Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden rode to victory in this same event three years in a row in 2006-2008. Their four faults in the first round in 158.74 seconds put them into the lead.
When asked about Worlds Judgement’s lineage, Carlsen remarked, “She’ll eventually win it three times too, I think. She’s going to live up to her father. This is her class. It will be in the future. I think she’s just going to learn as she goes a little bit. She’s made the mistake at that Devil’s Dyke (twice). Last year we came in too fast and had it in front, and this year it was slow and we had it behind. She keeps learning as she’s doing it. I think eventually I’ll be sitting there (as the winner) and Richard will be sitting here.”
Spooner and Cristallo went last and had a rail for four faults in 162.45 seconds to tie Carlsen and force a jump-off.
Carlsen and Worlds Judgement returned for the jump-off first and had electric speed from the start. In a short rollback to the “Canadian flag planks” jump, they had a slip, and the horse was unable to get her feet under her to clear the fence. They finished with four faults in a very fast 42.89 seconds.
“She really lost her balance in the corner to the plank, which was unfortunate,” Carlsen said. “But that’s the shot you take when you go that fast. [Richard is] fast; he could outrun me. My strategy was basically to make him chase me, go clean, and hope he makes a mistake.”
Spooner went in knowing that he could go slower for a clear round and the win, and that was exactly what he did. They were clear in 52.38 seconds for victory.
“When I watched [Lisa] go, I was sweating,” Spooner admitted. “I was deeply concerned as fast as she was going. It was not going to be so easy. I got lucky.”
Spooner described Cristallo as a bird in a horse’s body. He said, “All that horse wants to do is fly.
“Lisa left the door open for me by having the rail. I made the decision just to chicken-peck my way around and take my time. But if you have one down anywhere on the course with that strategy, your goose is cooked…I’m done with my fowl jokes,” he laughed.
Cristallo, an 18-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Caretino x Cicero) owned by Show Jumping Syndication Intl, shows no signs of slowing down as he repeated his derby victory at Spruce Meadows. They also won the competition in 2012, and competed for the first time in the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby in 2006.
“On the ground he’s as sweet as can be, and he doesn’t want to go anywhere. When you get on him, he wants to go everywhere,” Spooner said. “In the prize giving, he basically ran away with me. I had to pull up so I wasn’t lapping my fellow competitors.”
The love that Spooner has for Cristallo is obvious and shows when he talks about the horse.
“That horse has meant so much to me and done so much for me,” he expressed. “At this point in his career, every time we have a round period, let alone a successful round, it really strikes a chord in me. He’s been a huge part of my life, my family’s life, for over a decade. I just look forward to every ride on him.”
Swail Continues Winning Streak
Conor Swail of Ireland continued his streak of leading the victory gallop at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex, when he topped the ATCO Classic 1.45m with Cenzo, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Harley VDL x Cavalier), owned by Ilan Ferder and Tal Milstein.
Swail was the last to go in a jump-off of 15, out of an original starting order of 39. The leading time was set early in the jump-off by Antonio Chedraui (MEX) on Corcega La Silla, who finished in 36.07 seconds. Swail and Cenzo sped around the course and won with a time of 35.56 seconds.
Swail had never gone that fast with Cenzo before, he said. “The plan was to run and try to keep it as smooth as possible,” he continued. “His left turn is not as good as is right, so the turn back to the Rolex (jump) I thought would be too slow for me to be the winner, but he actually did that quite good. I got a lot of time up to the last. He cut in and raced hard at it and jumped it really well.”
Third place went to Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Acita with a time of 36.61 seconds. Leslie Howard (USA) and Up & Blue Chapelle were fourth in 37.11 seconds, while Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Fortis Fortuna were fifth in 37.23 seconds.
Swail started riding Cenzo this past winter in the 1.30m Jumpers and had moved up to the 1.45m division by the end of the winter circuit. He competed in Mexico before trying his hand at Spruce Meadows.
“He’s got a little bit of mileage,” Swail said. “He’s a little bit difficult in the mouth, but very careful. He’s a good jumper. He scared himself a little bit in the 1.50m the last time he was out, so that was a great comeback for him.
Cenzo will stay competing at the Summer Series for the four weeks of tournaments to further his education and gain consistency.
“We want to improve the rideability,” Swail explained. “That’s why we’re here at Spruce Meadows, to try and collect prize money, jump clear rounds, and work on things that need to be improved. It’s a great place to be to do that.”
The Spruce Meadows Summer Series continues with the ‘Continental’ tournament on June 15-19.
Conor Swail and Martha Louise. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB, Canada – It was a beautiful day of top show jumping competition at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex. Spectators numbered 28,477 to see Ireland’s Conor Swail win the $500,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex. It was the highlight event of the CSI 5* tournament, which concludes on Sunday, June 12. Second place went to Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Fine Lady 5, while Rich Fellers (USA) and Flexible placed third. Earlier in the day, Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Rosana du Park won the Transcanada Winning Round 1.50m.
The Spruce Meadows ‘National’, presented by Rolex, concludes on Sunday, June 12, with the $175,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby.
Thirty-three entries took to the course in the RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, which was designed by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil, who will be designing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Swail said of the course, “There was a premium on carefulness today. There were a lot of tall, light verticals. Scope-wise it wasn’t a huge test, but I thought he did an excellent job creating the right amount of clear rounds.”
The first phase was held earlier in the morning and had ten entries. There was one clear round in Maggie McAlary (USA) and HH Ciske van Overis. They were the first to return in the jump-off and had one rail for four faults in 47.95 seconds. They would finish in fifth place.
Next in was Jonathan McCrea (USA) on Aristoteles V. They were more careful in a time of 49.72 seconds in order to ensure their clear round, which would hold up for fourth place.
McCrea has developed Aristoteles, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Candy Tribble, since he was five years old. “To produce him to this level has been a long road,” he said. “I’ve believed in him from the start. This year he’s really stepped up to jump the bigger classes. He jumped his first Nations Cup a few weeks ago. I felt very relaxed today when I walked the course. He stepped up to the plate and delivered, so I was happy with him.”
In the first round, McCrea finished exactly on the 86-second time allowed.
“The two 1.55m classes earlier in the week, for me personally, built my horse up to today. I was clear with a time fault in both of them, so that was in the back of my mind today. I could hear the people in the box in the middle of the ring, as I was going to the second to last oxer, they were clucking. I thought, ‘Oh geez, I’m a bit slow here,’” he said with a smile.
Rich Fellers (USA) and his expectation-defying horse, Flexible, brought the winning time down to 43.77 seconds with no faults and they would end up in third place. The 20-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion, owned by Harry and Mollie Chapman, has survived multiple potentially career-ending injuries. He looked as bright and sharp as ever as he made easy work of the jump-off.
“It’s kind of getting to the point where I’m literally living a dream,” said Fellers. “He felt as good today as he’s ever felt. There’s really no explanation. I do notice little things day-to-day, working with him, he’s getting older and he has some of the typical characteristics of an older athlete. But when he walks in the ring, he gets young. Maybe he gets a lot out of adrenaline. We just take it day by day and see how he feels.”
Going just that much faster next in the jump-off was the crowd favorite, Canada’s Eric Lamaze on Fine Lady 5. Zipping around the course, they stopped the timers in 41.96 seconds.
“She’s naturally quick, and I knew Conor was after me,” Lamaze said. “I thought I’d done enough, or for sure enough to put the pressure that he had to take a few risks and see where it goes. I’m thrilled with this mare today. She jumped fantastic.”
When Lamaze started riding Fine Lady 5, a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Hauptstutbuch) owned by Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines Stable, he did not consider her to be a solid 1.60m horse. However, when asked to step up, she has proven that she can be competitive at some the biggest venues in the world.
“She proved to me that she can jump some big courses if you manage her well and build her up. She again stepped up today to do a bigger class quite easy,” he commented. “She’s a very light, Thoroughbred-y type jumper. She doesn’t have raw power. That’s why all these speed classes and jump-offs, she runs so fast. You just have to give her the courage to look at a big jump and believe she can jump it. She’s very talented and very careful. It’s important that she has a lot of confidence in me and I have a lot of confidence in her. That’s how a little horse like that can make it over some of these big fences.”
But it would not be enough as the last horse in the ring was able to find that bit more speed to win. Swail and Martha Louise, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Maloubet de Pleveille x Wolfgang) owned by Susan and Ariel Grange, opened up around the course, made a daring dash to the double combination, and cleared the final oxer in 40.66 seconds.
Swail said he took the “fastest and shortest route,” and it was his turn back to the combination that may have made the difference. He explained, “Going to the double I took a huge risk. I saw one very early and she was very, very good to jump in and out of that double. Once I had done the double – this is what goes through your head when you’re running around at that speed – I thought I’d done enough, so I’d go a little wider to the last and make sure to clear the back rail. That’s how it worked out for me.”
Going last in the jump-off “made a big difference,” Swail said. “I watched Eric’s round and I saw how good of a round he had. There were five clears, I have a fast horse, I ride not too bad, so I thought I would give it a good go and it all came off very well today.”
Of his win, Swail said, “Honestly, I’m over the moon. I thought today, in this big ring, it’s one of the biggest wins I’ve had here. I was just saying to Eric earlier in the day that I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot because Martha hasn’t shown so much since Florida. She really excelled today. It’s nice sometimes when you get a bit of a surprise. I suppose when Martha Louise comes here, she loves this arena. She was amazing, phenomenal today.”
Lamaze Leads Winning Round
The Transcanada Winning Round 1.50m had 28 entries. In this format, the top 10 regardless of first round faults return for a jump-off. Faults do not carry through to the jump-off, but determine the order of go.
Lamaze and Rosana du Park, an 11-year-old Selle Francais mare by Kannan owned by Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines Stable, were fast and clear in the first round, setting them up for the perfect position in the second round order.
“This mare doesn’t often have four faults, (but) if she did, that would be all she had,” Lamaze pointed out. “I just had to look at the time on the board if I had an unlucky rail (in the first round). Fortunately she jumped clear and I had the pole position, last to go in. I had my plan. There were maybe a couple of options, but I thought I would just take the route the others took more or less, but put on some more speed. I would have gone faster if I had to go first.”
When Lamaze entered the ring, he was following fellow Artisan Farms rider Tiffany Foster (CAN), who had set the leading time with a clear round in 55.88 seconds on Brighton. Lamaze and Rosana du Park sped around the course, turning in a time just under in 55.69 seconds for victory.
Third place went to Sameh El Dahan (EGY) on WKD Diva. They recorded a clear round in 56.82 seconds. Conor Swail (IRL) and Hetman of Color J, with a time of 60.53 seconds, finished fourth. Patricio Pasquel (MEX) and Babel were fifth with four faults in 57.28 seconds.
Lamaze is the winningest rider in Spruce Meadows’ 41-year history, earning more than $4.55 million. But he said that winning never gets old, especially at Spruce Meadows.
“They do it in such a fun way with the presentations. You can go around the world and not see presentations like that at major shows,” he said. “Here it’s fun to ride in (to the ring in) the golf cart too; you don’t do that at any other show. I love the presentations here, and that’s what keeps you wanting to win.”
Rosana du Park was one of a handful of horses that were purchased by his owners, Artisan Farms, a few years ago and started competing at Spruce Meadows as young horses in the 1.30m and 1.40m Jumpers. She and Check Picobello Z are now winning consistently at the 1.50m level around the world.
“We’ve had some good luck, but you need great owners behind you in order to do this,” he acknowledged. “There are plenty of horses that we purchased, that you will never see because they weren’t good enough. That’s the game. You don’t bat 100 buying horses and competing. You’ll make some mistakes, and some horses will disappoint you. With Artisan Farms behind me, and Tiffany, they’ve made it possible and not be afraid to buy young horses, trying to find a special one, and get great horses to compete on. We’re very fortunate to have that.”
With an Artisan Farms 1-2 finish, Lamaze was happy. “We’re all on the same team, and you have to cheer for each other. If [Tiffany] went after me, she probably could have caught what I just did on Rosana. She had one down and went earlier, but she came back to finish second, which is a very good result,” he said.
The highlight competition at the ‘National’, presented by Rolex, on Sunday, June 12, is the $175,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby and ATCO Classic 1.45m.
Kent Farrington and Gazelle. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB, Canada – The Spruce Meadows Summer Series kicked off competition on Wednesday, June 8, with some of the best show jumpers in the world riding for top honors in the ‘National’, presented by Rolex. Kent Farrington (USA) won the highlight competition of the day, the Bantrel Cup 1.55m, with Gazelle. Conor Swail (IRL) and Cita were the fastest to capture the Erwin Hymer Group Cup 1.50m, while Jack Hardin Towell (USA) and Lucifer V won the Back on Track Cup 1.50m. The CSI 5* tournament continues through Sunday, June 12.
Highlights of the week’s competition include the $500,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, on Saturday, June 11, and the $175,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby on Sunday, June 12. The course designer in the International Ring for the ‘National’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, is Guilherme Jorge of Brazil, who has been tapped to design for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Five of 29 starters in the Bantrel Cup 1.55m found the clear track to the jump-off, with pathfinder Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Fine Lady 5 taking the shortened course first. Their blazing time of 39.95 seconds would have been good for the win, but a rail down left them in fourth place.
Next in were Farrington and Gazelle, who were quick with less risk to go to the top of the leaderboard, clear in 42.18 seconds.
“I know Eric well, and I know that horse very well,” Farrington said. “I knew that was going to be the speed of the class, so I wanted to be sure to watch him go so I knew what I had to do. When he had a rail down, I thought I would go more measured than I had planned, but put enough pressure where the others had to go. He was really going all out there, and it would have been hard to beat if he hadn’t had that rail.”
Antonio Chedraui (MEX) and La Bamba were also clear in 46.83 seconds, which placed them third. Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Victor landed in fifth place with a time of 43.01 seconds and four faults.
Last to go, Yann Candele (CAN) and Showgirl slotted into second place with a strong time of 44.06 seconds despite a slip on course.
Candele said, “She’s in aluminum shoes. It makes the foot slippery even with caulks. Even with that, I saw the time. Even if I made both turns, it would be close, but I don’t think it would make the win.”
Gazelle, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Kashmir Van Shuttershof x Indoctro owned by Farrington and Robin Parsky, was Farrington’s mount for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto where they won the team bronze medal. Farrington noted that she is learning to be a good grand prix horse, and the plan for her time at Spruce Meadows is to gain mileage in bigger competitions.
All three riders commended Spruce Meadows on their improvements since last year. Candele noted, “The facility looks great, and as usual there has been some upgrading. It’s going to be great sport.”
Farrington added, “I love riding on grass. It’s one of my favorite parts of Spruce Meadows. The horses jump well on grass, and it’s better for them.”
Chedraui complimented, “I really love the place. I’ve been able to show many places in the world, and it’s pretty hard to find a place like this. Not only the footing, the stables, the warm-up rings that every year get better and better, but also the people and the ambience that you produce here. I think it’s really the best of the best.”
Swail Starts with Victory
There were 38 entries in the first competition of the year on the field of the International Ring in the Erwin Hymer Group Cup 1.50m. It was held as one round for speed, and the fastest of the day was Ireland’s Conor Swail on Cita, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Pik Romero) owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. Swail and Cita scorched the field by putting in a time of 65.46 seconds with no faults.
Five seconds behind was Canada’s Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze on Melody des Hayettes Z, owned by Artisan Farms LLC. They posted a clear round in a time of 70.45 seconds. Third place went to Antonio Chedraui (MEX) on Corcega La Silla in 73.72 seconds. Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Acita placed fourth in 75.33 seconds, while Antonio Maurer (MEX) on Galileo de Laubry was fifth in 75.90 seconds. There were seven clear rounds.
Swail and Cita were first paired last August, and he took his time with the “unbelievably careful” mare. This spring they won in Palgrave and Langley before topping the first competition at Spruce Meadows.
“She’s been amazing,” Swail said. “To go straight into that ring and jump 1.50m, and to do it the way she did it… I mean, she won by five seconds. I did a couple of turns that no one else did, and that’s basically I think where most of the time came from. I did an inside turn there, and when I did it and I saw the angle that I was at, I thought it was an awful, bad idea on my behalf. She was incredible to jump it.”
Swail plans to attempt his first derby at Spruce Meadows on Sunday in the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby with Cita, and it will be her first derby as well. He feels confident though that her carefulness and energy will carry them well through the challenging competition.
“We’ve trained all the stuff at home, and she’s like, ‘No problem, no problem.’ There’s so much quality (that) when I’m jumping fence 24, I’m not going to run out of engine, that’s for sure. I like doing derbies but unless I’m in it to win it, I don’t want to go in it. The few years I’ve been here, I’ve never had anything suitable. I’ve practiced on her a few times at home, and I feel she’s very good at it and I think she has a good chance on Sunday, even though it’s her first go and mine.”
Towell Goes for Speed
Another 38 entries went to post for the Back on Track Cup 1.50m speed, and 14 were clear to lead the results. The fastest of those was Jack Hardin Towell (USA) on Jennifer Gates’s Lucifer V, who stopped the timers in 60.86 seconds for victory.
Eric Lamaze had to settle for another second place ribbon today, this time with Artisan Farms LLC’s Rosana du Park. They finished the course in 61.47 seconds. Fellow Canadian Vanessa Mannix and Dooley’s Deluxe were third in 67.13 seconds. Olympic gold medalist Leslie Howard of the United States was fourth with Utah in 68.14 seconds, while Ian Millar (CAN) and Teddy du Bosquetiau were fifth with a time of 68.81 seconds.
Towell brought Lucifer V, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lord Pezi x Grandeur) to Spruce Meadows last year with some success. He has grown into one of Towell’s top grand prix horses, performing well at CSI 5* events. After a month’s break following the winter season, Towell decided to step Lucifer V down this week while his second mount, New York, does the grand prix.
“There’s nothing like being over-horse-powered in a class!” he laughed. “I thought I would give it a little bit of a go. He jumped quite well, and he feels good. He always jumps well here. It was nice to step him down and go in there for both our confidence, together.”
With age comes wisdom, and Towell feels lucky that both of his top horses are maturing and growing.
He said, “It’s amazing how much they’ve grown in a year’s time. This class last year, Lucifer went in. I probably would have been close to winning, and then he saw something, spooked, and reared. It’s nice that both of my horses are 10 years old now; they’re a little older and more experienced. I feel like they’re coming along well.”
The Spruce Meadows ‘National’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, continues on Thursday featuring the ATCO Pipelines Cup 1.50m, the Westmoreland Coal Cup 1.50m, and the ATB Financial Cup 1.55m.
Wellington, FL – March 23, 2016 – Week eleven of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Artisan Farms, began Wednesday morning at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL with a win for Conor Swail (IRL) and Cita in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m Jumper Classic.
WEF 11 features CSI 4* rated jumper and ‘AA’ rated hunter competition running March 23-27, 2016. The $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 will be featured on Thursday. Friday features the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic in the morning and the 9th Annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championships in the evening.
Saturday highlights the $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, presented by Equiline, on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC beginning at 11 a.m. with a brunch hosted by Equiline in the Tiki Hut at The Stadium beginning at 10:30 a.m. The $130,000 Engel & Völkers Grand Prix CSI 4* will be the feature event in the International Ring on the main show grounds Saturday evening beginning at 7:45 p.m. Competition concludes on Sunday with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic also held on the derby field at The Stadium. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER) is the course designer in the International Ring for WEF 11. Petersen kicked off the week with 70 entries in the 1.45m speed class and 27 clear rounds. Sixth to go in the order, Conor Swail set an uncatchable time of 65.31 seconds that would hold on for the win riding Ariel and Susan Grange’s Cita.
Lauren Hough (USA) guided Paris Sellon’s Street Hassle to second place in 66.67 seconds. Daniel Coyle (IRL) jumped Susan Grange’s Tennyson to third place in 67.04 seconds, and Laura Chapot (USA) rode her own and McLain Ward’s Quointreau Un Prince through the timers in 67.52 seconds to place fourth.
Cita, a ten-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Pik Ramiro), last won a 1.45m FEI World Ranking class competing with Swail in November. She then jumped some smaller classes throughout the WEF circuit before stepping up again this week.
“She finished up last season very well with a big win in November, and we have been a little slower, just getting organized since then,” Swail explained. “She went a little bit green on me at the start of the circuit, so we just took our time and did a lot of national 1.40m classes, and now it is time for her to step up a little bit again. She had a break for a few weeks and today she was really good; I thought she was fantastic.”
Going sixth in the order, Swail did not get a chance to see anyone else go before his round, but the course was good for Cita and the rider stuck to his plan.
“I had an early draw, but it was quite a galloping course, there was a lot of room to run, and that suited my mare,” Swail stated. “Even though she is a small mare, she has a huge stride. Starting with number one to two, I did seven strides there, which was a big leave out. Then for me, fences one, two, three, four, and five were where you made a lot of time. I galloped a lot the first five jumps, and then you were a little committed to numbers again through the middle of the course. Then there was another little gallop towards the end.
“I thought it was a nice round,” Swail continued. “I was very pleased with how well she handled it. She stayed nice and smooth even though we were going at a high speed.”
Speaking further of his mount, Swail noted, “She can get a little nervous, and we have just been trying to keep her as relaxed as possible. That is why we have not been rushing her too much this circuit. I felt it was time now to press on a little bit and see how she coped with the pressure of going quick again, so I was very happy with how she responded. I am hoping she is going to be one of my top jumpers, so this is a stepping-stone to move up for her.”
Cita will finish the WEF circuit next week followed by a week in Miami before taking a little break. Her season will start up again competing at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, Ontario before heading on to Calgary, Alberta for the Spruce Meadows Summer Series starting in June.
Also competing in the International Ring on Wednesday, the $6,000 1.40m speed, sponsored by Illustrated Properties, was held in a California split. Todd Minikus (USA) and Two Swans Farm’s I Am Nala were the winners of Section A, while Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Bowers Cone LLC’s Cassini Z topped Section B.
The eleventh week of competition at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival continues on Thursday with the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 and the Perfect Products Pre-Green Hunters 3’3″ will award championship honors in the Rost Arena. For more information and full results, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Scott Stewart and Catch Me. Photos copyright Sportfot.
Conor Swail and Dillinger Win $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6
Wellington, FL – February 18, 2016 – The arrival of World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival heralds the traditional beauty of the hunter discipline, which is featured all week long in the main International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The professional hunter divisions were completed today and seven divisions named champions. WEF 6 runs through Sunday, February 21, with the highlight event, the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, as the “Saturday Night Lights” event starting at 6:30 p.m. under the lights.
Jumper competition during week six is held at The Stadium at PBIEC. Ireland’s Conor Swail and Dillinger took the win in the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6.
The international jumpers get a fresh change of scenery competing in both the International Ring and the Derby Field at The Stadium through Sunday. The $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3* will be the highlight event on Friday night in the Global International Ring, the $10,000 Artisan Farms U25 Welcome Grand Prix sponsored by EnTrust Capital and the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will both be held on the derby field at The Stadium on Saturday, and the $25,000 Artisan Farms U25 sponsored by EnTrust Capital as well as the $50,000 WEF 6 National Grand Prix will both be held on the derby field at The Stadium on Sunday. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Perennial favorite Scott Stewart of Flemington, NJ captured two championships today; he rode Dr. Betsee Parker’s A Million Reasons to the tricolor in the High Performance Hunter division and David Gochman’s Catch Me to the Equine Tack & Nutritionals Second Year Green Working Hunter championship.
Stewart topped two of the three over fences classes and placed second in the under saddle with the nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Havens Schatt settled for the reserve honors with Shaw Johnson Price’s 11-year-old Mecklenburg gelding, Custom Made, topping the under saddle and earning a fifth and two second place ribbons over fences.
Catch Me was recently named the USHJA WCHR Hunter of the Year for 2015 and will receive the WCHR Peter Wetherill Cup on Saturday night. In May of 2015, Catch Me became ill and was diagnosed with botulism, a neurologic disorder that can result in paralysis and may be fatal. Since the disease was caught early and treated, Catch Me was able to make a full recovery and returned to the show ring in August.
“When you saw him at the clinic you would not have thought he was going to make it,” Steward remarked about the ordeal.
He was especially impressed with the gelding’s performance this week. “He’s so careful, and he was awesome,” Stewart detailed. Catch Me’s performance has led him to consider competing him in the Hunter Spectacular.
Stewart looks forward to earning a spot in the coveted class each year. “It’s certainly one of the most special weeks for us here,” he remarked. “It’s still a great thing to try to do.”
Stewart and A Million Reasons won the stake round of the High Performance Hunters with a score of 88 and placed third in another of the three over fences classes. A Million Reasons also earned a blue ribbon in the under saddle class.
The 11-year-old Holsteiner mare walked right into the International Arena on Wednesday, competing for the first time since the National Horse Show in November. “She doesn’t show that much,” Stewart detailed about the mare’s light show schedule. When asked what helps the mare continue to impress year after year, Stewart explained, “I don’t really jump her [four feet high] at home. She has an easy job, so I think she stays pretty interested.”
A Million Reasons, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, may be a small horse, but she never appears to be when on course. “She’s not that big a horse, but she has a giant stride,” Stewart stated. “You just have to do things her way. She’s a little temperamental, but very scopey for a small horse.”
Kelley Farmer and Like I Said settled for the reserve honors after winning two of the three over fences classes. The pair also placed sixth in the under saddle. Like I Said is an eight-year-old Mecklenburg mare, who was recently purchased by Pony Lane Farm.
Farmer and Like I Said moved up to the top tricolor ribbon in the Equine Tack & Nutritionals First Year Green Working Hunter. Farmer, who splits her time between Lexington, KY and Wellington, piloted the mare to wins in two of the three over fences classes. The pair also placed fourth over jumps to clinch the tricolor win.
Like I Said received the highest score of the week, earning an impressive 94 in the stake round today. “She was amazing; what a horse,” Farmer stated. “The only reason she wasn’t champion in two divisions this week was because I got in her way.”
Farmer and Like I Said also won both of the over fences classes in the High Performance division on Wednesday. “For a First Year horse to walk in the International ring yesterday and win both classes… she’s a heck of a horse, and I think she speaks for herself,” Farmer laughed. “I couldn’t be happier with her.”
Reserve champion honors in the First Year Green Hunters went to Victoria Colvin and Style. Style, who is a seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Take the High Road LLC, earned a second place ribbon in the under saddle, and a first and a sixth over fences.
Farmer topped another division in the Shapley’s Grooming Products Green Conformation Hunters with Clever Conversation, a seven-year-old Warmblood gelding by Celestial owned by Kensel, LLC and Woodland Way, Inc. They placed second in the model, won the under saddle, and were first, second, and second over fences. Trainer Larry Glefke was pleased that the horse continued his winning ways from earlier in the circuit in WCHR week, but the young gelding will not compete on Saturday night. “All of them that Kelley rides can jump big jumps, but going out there for the first time under the lights is a lot to ask from him as a First Year Horse,” he explained.
“Clever” is like a “baby Huey”, Glefke described. “He’s like a big puppy dog. He’s beautiful, and he has a tremendous canter. He just flies across the ground. When you’re cantering around, you feel like his feet don’t even touch the ground.”
Farmer added, “He was ready to come into his own. He’s been winning a lot. He’s brave, he’s quiet, and he has a ton of ability. I knew he would walk out there (in the International Arena) and love it.”
Farmer also rode the reserve champion in the division, It’s Me, owned by Farmer, Pinney, & Hill. The seven-year-old Warmblood stallion by Quality won two over fences classes and was third over fences, and placed third in the model.
Farmer, like Stewart, has been reigning in the professional hunters since the WCHR Hunter Spectacular started 20 years ago. When asked about her success during WCHR week at WEF, she stated, “I’ve won that (Hunter Spectacular) class once. I’d really like to say I’m a multiple winner! To keep having horses that are capable of competing on that field and at this week, [qualifying for] the class, it’s a testament to all of my team and what a great job they all do. Larry, Bucky (Reynolds), Debbie (Buchanan) in the barn, and all my great guys, and the horses. I’m lucky to have a group like I do. It’s nice to keep being back in the mix every time.”
For Farmer, it’s a balance of peaking her young and experienced horses at the right time and keeping herself healthy. Last year at WEF 4, a horse she was riding tripped and fell. Farmer tore her rotator cuff and had a hairline fracture in her sternum. Despite her injuries, she was back week 6 and competing.
“Truthfully I wasn’t in good enough shape to ride, and I pushed myself. It probably didn’t benefit my horses, and I didn’t ride the way I should for my horses. This year, I’m back and I feel good,” she said.
Chris Payne of Cincinnati, OH brought home another championship for the circuit with Truman, a nine-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Debbie Bass and Maypine Farm, in the Shapley’s Grooming Products Regular Conformation Hunters. They won two over fences classes and were third in the remaining over fences class, and won the model and the under saddle.
“He’s an absolutely amazing horse,” Payne said. “He’s a beautiful horse, he’s very correct. He hasn’t lost an under saddle. He just has a great style and technique. He is what you think of, when you think of a hunter.”
Payne, who imported Truman as an inexperienced five-year-old from Europe, did not have any expectations coming into WCHR week. But he is excited to showcase Truman’s talent in the horse’s first ever Hunter Spectacular at WEF. “The International Ring is very imposing for some. I went into it hoping that he and I had a good time,” he explained. “If the cards played out in our favor, I was happy. (On Saturday night) I’ll go out and have a good time. I’m lucky to get to ride him, and Debbie Bass is an amazing owner for letting me do this.”
The reserve champion in the division was Lucador, ridden by Scott Stewart for Dr. Betsee Parker. They were third in the model, second under saddle, and first, second, and third over fences. Stewart plans to compete Lucador in the Hunter Spectacular on Saturday night.
A field of 58 horses vied for the Performance Working Hunter 3’6″ championship, resulting in a California split of the division. Elizabeth Boyd piloted Stella Styslinger’s O’Ryan to one of the two championships following two wins and a fourth place ribbon over fences. The pair also placed fourth in the under saddle. Brady Mitchell rode Cassanto to the second championship title. The pair placed first and second over fences and topped the under saddle. Cassanto is a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Emily Perez.
Jimmy Torano piloted Mia Holstead’s Sutherland to one of the Performance Working Hunter 3’3″ division championships. Torano placed second in the under saddle and earned fifth, second, and first place ribbons over fences on the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding. Victoria Colvin also earned a championship tricolor aboard Havana, who is a 16-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Take the High Road LLC. The pair topped the under saddle class and earned a second and two third place ribbons over fences.
Conor Swail and Dillinger Win $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6
Richard Jeffery (GBR) set the course for 70 starters in Thursday’s Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6. Ten entries cleared the first round course to advance to the jump-off where only four jumped double clear.
Laura Kraut (USA) and Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc.’s Constable were first to clear the short course in 42.29 seconds, eventually finishing third. Sayre Happy (USA) cleared the track next with HC Sport Horses’ Ludwig’s Joker B to finish fourth in a time of 44.29. Conor Swail was next to clear the jump-off course with Ariel and Susan Grange’s Dillinger, stopping the clocks in the winning time of 39.98 seconds. Last to go, Peter Wylde (USA) jumped into second place with a time of 41.28 seconds aboard Kathleen Kamine’s Paloma.
Speaking of his jump-off round, Swail said, “One to two was just a nice seven strides for him. The rollback was pretty nice and then the eight strides up to the Liverpool were nice for him. Then just on the landing he had a little bit of a stumble and it made me turn a little late there, but thankfully we still got that inside turn. Then the in-and-out and the last fence he did great.”
Dillinger, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion (by Contender x Capitol I), is a horse that Swail has high hopes for.
“He just turned nine years old, so this would be the start of the higher level in his career,” Swail stated. “He is a very good horse. We have had him since he was five years old, and he has been very good basically the whole time we have had him.”
“He jumped his first couple of 2* and 3* grand prix at Angelstone at the end of last year and he jumped clear in five out of the six ranking classes, so he has been very consistent,” Swail noted. “This is probably his first big win, but he has had some good placings. He is a fabulous horse. He is very scopey and very careful. It is what we are all looking for,” he said.
The smaller International Ring at the Stadium was a change for Dillinger, but the young horse proved his versatility and made great turns.
“For a big horse that ring is actually quite difficult, so I think it is a testament to how good he reacted, and I was delighted with him,” Swail said.
Dillinger will jump again in Friday night’s $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3*, but Swail plans to take his time developing the horse further.
“We have been building him up gradually,” Swail detailed. “He was out a few weeks ago jumping the two 1.45m ranking classes. He had one down with the fastest time in the first class and he was third the next time, so he is slowly improving. I think he is going to be a championship horse. I really do think a lot of him. Whenever he is more comfortable and more ready to jump the bigger jumps, I think he will tell me when he is ready to do that. In the meantime, he is getting good experience all of the time and I never want to over face him too much, so we will keep just going along nicely. Hopefully towards the end of this year he will be doing some pretty nice things.”
In addition to the winning prize money, Swail picked up a $3,000 bonus for wearing SSG ‘Digital’ style riding gloves as part of the SSG Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion.
While jumper action continues at The Stadium on Friday featuring the $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3* in the evening, the third day of WCHR competition will host more championship presentations on the main show grounds. For more information and full results, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Conor Swail and Fortis Fortuna (Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography)
Wellington, Florida (February 14, 2016) – In one of its busiest shows yet this season, week 5 of The Ridge at Wellington’s Turf Tour series combined world-class competition and ideal weather as Olympians, amateurs, juniors, and young horses vied for top honors on Wednesday and Friday, February 10 and 12, 2016. Irish riders rode to top finishes across the major divisions, including the Grand Prix and 1.30-1.35m divisions, as Darragh Kenny, Cian O’Connor, and Conor Swail dominated the standings to make it a true Irish sweep.
With a backdrop of the verdant polo fields of the International Polo Club, the fast and accurate pair of Conor Swail and Fortus Fortuna, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange, delivered the winning ride in the $15,000 Grand Prix on Friday, over a course designed by Nick Granat. His double clear effort was contested by only a handful others, while his jump off time of 36.078 proved unbeatable in the course of the day. Another Irish native and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Cian O’Connor, took reserve honors with a final jump off time of 38.161 aboard his own Enriques of the Lowlands. O’Connor also took fourth place with Duke of Carnival behind two-time US Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward and HH Ashley. 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist Beat Mandli of Switzerland settled into fifth with Grant Road Partners’ Celina, followed by 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Maher and Jane Forbes Clark’s Aristo Z in 6th, Stephen Moore and Teddy Vlock’s Team de Couquerie in 7th, and Cathrine Dinan aboard Grant Road Partner’s Galan S in 8th. Maher, who has competed on the Turf Tour for the past three weeks, has made use of the venues and divisions to prepare the experienced Aristo Z for bigger classes later in the season. “We had a holiday towards the end of last year, and have been using a few classes here to build him up for the bigger Grand Prix next week,” stated Maher. “[The Turf Tour] is great, a nice change from what is on offer, with a relaxed environment and excellent venues. It’s been great for me so far this year.”
To round out the Irish dominance during week 6, Darragh Kenny and Gatsby, owned by Toffolon Partners, LLC, won both of the 1.30-1.35m classes, with Beth Underhill aboard Cadermie and Edward Levy aboard Starlette de la Roque taking the reserve in each class. Granat’s designs in the Grand Prix and 1.30-1.35m made excellent use of the expansive turf course, and was intended to present a challenge that relied upon the use of strong basics and tactful riding to adjust between the first round and jump off. Thanks to the generosity of the Turf Tour’s newest sponsor, Bright’s Creek, the winner of Friday’s Junior/Amateur Owner Classic and Grand Prix will receive a 3-day, 2-night trip to their beautiful destination in the mountains of North Carolina. From equestrian activities and fine dining to luxury accommodations and an exclusive BMW Off Road Excursion through 7.2 miles of wilderness trails, hardwood forests, and ancient rock formations, the Turf Tour’s competition now have even more reason to put their best foot forward as Bright Creek will be sponsoring the Grand Prix and Junior/Amateur Owner Classic through the rest of the season. For more information visit the Bright’s Creek website.
In addition to the Grand Prix and 1.30-1.35m divisions, the second arena featured Low, Medium, and High Schooling Jumpers, 5-, 6-, and 7-Year-Old Jumper classes and qualifiers, a Junior/Adult Amateur Classic, and Speed/Jump Off classes. Intended to act as a catalyst for the growth and development of horses and riders, the Turf Tour combines breathtaking venues with amenities as world class as the riders to consistently draw some of the top competitors in Wellington. Week Seven of the Turf Tour will again take place on the beautiful grounds of the International Polo Club on Wednesday and Friday, February 17 and 19, 2016.