Andres Rodriguez and Darlon van Groenhove Win $85,000 ATB Financial Cup at Spruce Meadows

Andres Rodriguez and Darlon van Groenhove. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.

McLain Ward and Nick Dello Joio Also Victorious on Day Two

Calgary, AB, Canada – June 4, 2015 – Spruce Meadows ‘National’ Tournament CSI 5*, presented by Rolex, continued with its second day of competition on Thursday featuring world-class show jumping in Calgary, AB, Canada. The day’s big win went to Venezuela’s Andres Rodriguez and Darlon van Groenhove in the $85,000 ATB Financial Cup 1.55m. McLain Ward (USA) and HH Carlos Z were victorious in the $34,000 ATCO Pipelines Cup 1.50m, and Nick Dello Joio (USA) and Contiki triumphed in the $34,000 Westmoreland Coal Cup 1.50m.

The ‘National’ Tournament is the first in five weeks of competition during this year’s Summer Series at Spruce Meadows. Riders will vie for nearly $1.2 million in prize money throughout the week, with competition concluding on Sunday, June 7. The highlight event will be the $400,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, on Saturday, June 6. Other features include the $60,000 TransCanada Parcours de Chasse on Saturday and the $210,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup 1.50m Derby on Sunday.

Course designer Uliano Vezzani (ITA) set the track for Thursday’s $85,000 ATB Financial Cup, which saw 76 starters and 21 clear rounds. Out of 20 that continued on to the evening’s jump-off, ten were able to clear the short course without fault.

For the second night in a row, Andres Rodriguez was the winner, this time aboard his Pan American Games prospect Darlon van Groenhove. The rider and Arao Enterprises LLC’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Clinton x Heartbreaker) flew through the finish line in 43.01 seconds. Also riding for Venezuela, Pablo Barrios guided his mount Antares to a second place finish in 45.35 seconds. USA’s Quentin Judge earned the third place prize aboard Double H Farm’s HH Whisky Royale in 45.70 seconds.

Winning two nights in a row to kick off an important summer of competition was like a dream come true for Rodriguez, who appreciates everything it takes to make it to this level of the sport.

“It is an amazing feeling,” the rider acknowledged. “When I look back to the very first year I came to Spruce Meadows, I was very far from sitting in this chair (at the press conference), and now that I am able to come to a show like this and be competitive every day with a good string of horses it is just very gratifying.”

“I was certain I was going to win another class throughout the summer because my horses have been going great, but I did not expect it to happen the next day,” Rodriguez admitted. “But here we are, so it is amazing.”

‘Darlon’ has jumped clear in his last six competitions with good placings and two wins prior to Thursday night, but Rodriguez counts this win at a different level.

“The competitions he has won before have been good competitions, but this is a great competition,” he declared. “Twenty riders in the jump-off, very fast riders, and a big tough course. It is special, so if he keeps it up our hopes are high for the Pan American Games.”

With a tough roster of competitors, Rodriguez knew he had to take some risk in the jump-off, and he took a big chance leaving out a stride at the final fence.

“I may have taken a little bit too much risk to the last fence, but it paid off,” he smiled. “I think the horse grew wings. I do not know how he got out of there, but he did.”

Darlon was purchased through Steve Guerdat to eventually be sold, but continued to prove himself and turned into more than Rodriguez expected.

“We put him in a few competitions and I knew he was going to be super nice,” the rider detailed. “The horse kept going and he just kept getting better and better. Surprisingly, he is the best horse we have in the string now. His style is very classic. He goes in a very nice way and he has a huge stride. For a jump-off like today where you have big gallops, you can use that big canter that he has. He is very flexible and he is a dream to ride. He is just nice in every way.”

Ward Wins on Day Two

Earlier in the day, McLain Ward jumped to victory in the $34,000 ATCO Pipelines Cup 1.50m aboard Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z. The competition saw 29 entries with five advancing to the jump-off.

Conor Swail (IRL) was first to jump the short course with Susan Grange’s Simba de la Roque, setting the pace with a clear round in 39.89 seconds to eventually accept the second place prize. Ward and HH Carlos Z soon beat their time by a margin in 39.54 seconds to take the win. Meagan Nusz (USA) and Amalaya Investments’ Leoville 2 had one rail down in 43.84 seconds to place third.

McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z
McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z

“Carlos is an unbelievably competitive horse. All he does is win, win, win,” Ward said of his mount. “Conor had a great round, but I felt Carlos was jumping well and it was worth taking a shot. We won by a sliver; it wasn’t very much.”

“I got to see Conor go, which was nice, and then I jumped one jump and went in,” Ward continued. “I knew Conor actually lost his footing a little bit turning to number three in the jump-off, and I thought that if I could catch that jump a little bit better it would be the difference, and it was.”

Ward and the 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chellano Z x Voltaire) have had incredible success since Hunter Harrison of Double H Farm brought the partnership together. Most recently, the duo won back-to-back grand prix at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows in New York. Those competitions, held on another large grass field, set Carlos up perfectly for immediate command of Spruce Meadows’ International Ring.

“We are lucky we have a great show at Old Salem Farm that is on grass, and myself and Beezie (Madden) and a lot of us use that as a great prep for Spruce Meadows,” Ward noted. “It is a national show, so it is maybe a little softer level, but high quality. That is a nice lead up to this.”

Carlos also placed third in Wednesday’s $34,000 Back on Track 1.50m and Ward now has plans to jump him in Saturday’s grand prix.

“That is the amazing thing about him. He can go in the 1.45m class on Wednesday full speed, then come back and jump the grand prix on Sunday afternoon and have a good chance,” Ward remarked. “He does some things that you would not think he should be able to do, but he is a real trier and a fighter. Like I always say to Mr. Harrison, he is a horse that on any day, he is worth getting dressed for.”

Dello Joio Earns Career First

Also competing on Thursday, USA’s Nick Dello Joio captured his first ever win in Spruce Meadows’ International Ring. The 26-year-old rider jumped Coker Farm’s Contiki to victory in the $34,000 Westmoreland Coal Cup 1.50m. Out of 27 starters, nine advanced to the jump-off, where the pair completed the fastest of six double clear rounds.

Jaime Azcarraga (MEX) guided Matador to second place honors in 39.57 seconds. Eric Lamaze (CAN) stopped the clock in 39.92 seconds to earn the third place prize with Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Rosana du Park, and Conor Swail finished fourth in 39.97 seconds on Susan and Ariel Grange’s Grafton.

“I am thrilled,” Dello Joio smiled following his win. “My horse was great and I could not be happier with him. He was great yesterday. He was a little bit fresh, but still managed a good clear round and was tenth. Today, I had a hard rub at the in of the combination, but luck was on my side.”

“The jump-off really suited him,” Dello Joio continued. “It was not a lot of tight turns. It was a lot more of an open gallop, and he covers the grounds so quickly and he is such a fast horse that it was great.”

Contiki, a nine-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Contendro x Calido I), has had other top finishes in Toronto and Wellington with Dello Joio and also showed in Old Salem in preparation for this summer’s competition.

Commenting on where the win ranks in his career, the rider stated, “It’s up there. Spruce Meadows is my favorite venue in the world. It is by far the best venue in the world and to be able to win in the main ring is great. I have knocked on the door a few times, but never pulled it off, so it was great to do it in such a fast jump-off with so many good riders right behind me. Second, third and fourth place were three of the best in the world, so it felt good. It is also nice to get a win early. It puts you at ease a little bit and now we can kind of relax and carry on with the rest of our summer series here.”

Thursday’s competition also featured FEI competition in the All Canada Ring in the morning with a course set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA). Eduardo Menezes (BRA) was the winner of the $8,000 Omega Alpha Cup 1.45m aboard his own Catalina. The pair topped a two-horse jump-off over Mario Deslauriers (USA) with Lisa Deslauriers’ Scout de la Cense. Reed Kessler (USA) finished third on one time fault aboard Kessler Show Stables’ KS Stakki.

The Spruce Meadows ‘National’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, continues on Friday with two features in the International Ring. Competition will begin in the afternoon with the $35,000 Encana Cup 1.45m followed by the $35,000 RBC Capital Markets Cup 1.50m.

For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit

Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the creation of the Southern family who built a Show Jumping complex at the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. It was in 1976 that the first Spruce Tournaments were held, with annual spectator attendances reaching over 50,000 by the end of the decade. Today, Spruce Meadows boasts one of the greatest outdoor equestrian venues in the world and offers an incredible experience for riders and fans alike. Spruce Meadows focuses on the organization and hosting of show jumping tournaments of unmatched quality for junior, amateur and professional athletes in a manner that reflects basic family values in a clean, green and welcoming environment that celebrates the horse and encourages the breeding and training of quality sport horses and the teaching and development of athletes. For more information on Spruce Meadows, please visit

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

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