Cameron Hanley and Antello. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Madden, Sweetnam, and Swail Also Win on Opening Day of ‘North American’ Tournament
Calgary, AB – July 3, 2013 – The ‘North American’ Tournament CSI 5* started today with four major competitions in the International Ring. The winner of the $35,000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.60m was Cameron Hanley (IRL) on Antello. In the $33,000 AON Cup 1.50m, Beezie Madden (USA) and Coral Reef Via Volo were fastest in the jump-off. The $33,000 Suncast Cup 1.45m victory went to Shane Sweetnam (IRL) on Solerina, while Conor Swail (IRL) and Martha Louise were fastest in the $33,000 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m.
The ‘North American’ Tournament continues through Sunday, July 7, and features the $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday, July 6, and the $140,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby on Sunday, July 7.
The $35,000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.60m competition had 21 entries. Four advanced to the jump-off and it was Cameron Hanley who was fastest for victory with Antello, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding by Animo Z x Continue owned by Eleonore Paschoude and Yves Bouvier.
McLain Ward (USA) and Cadence set the time to beat with a clear round in 44.91 seconds, which would hold up for second place. Daniel Bluman (COL) and Sancha LS La Silla placed third with their time of 44.93 seconds. Lauren Tisbo (USA) placed fourth when she and Roundthorn Madios finished in 45.42 seconds.
Hanley and Antello went last and he opened the big horse’s stride up through the long gallops on course. That and a chance at the final oxer gave them victory when they stopped the timers in 42.97 seconds.
“He’s naturally a very quick horse, he covers the ground very quickly, and I just let him roll and everything came up quite nice, like the turn back to the second to last (fence). The great thing about him is he’s so careful that I can just ride him to that last fence and I don’t really have to worry about him knocking it down,” he explained. “He’s always going to try to jump it. As long as I get a reasonably good distance, he should jump it.”
Hanley said that this was probably only the second time that he has pressed for speed in a jump-off with Antello. “The first week here I was clear in the 1.60m and I started to go quick and had a fence down early, so I slowed down. I haven’t really galloped him so much. He’s not a horse I would really do every class very competitive with,” he explained. “But today, last to go, four in the jump-off, I knew they were all really fast riders so I knew I had to go as fast as I could. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip; I was going to take it if I could.”
Today’s win was another step in Hanley’s comeback from a devastating knee injury and resulting 17 surgeries due to infection and complications. It was a special win for him on this horse that he and his brother purchased as a seven-year-old. When Hanley was injured, Michael Whitaker purchased him and brought him along. When Hanley returned to the sport and got new sponsors, he knew the horse they should buy for the grand prix ring. Since they have been back together, they won the grand prix in Wiesbaden, were double clear to help Ireland win the Nations Cup during the ‘Continental’ Tournament, and have now won again.
Hanley expressed, “Once I got him and back in the saddle, it just felt so comfortable sitting on him again. He’s really special, and we fit each other really well. We suit each other’s personalities, I guess. I’m quite easygoing and he’s quite lively, so we cancel each other out.”
This is Hanley’s fourth time competing at Spruce Meadows, and he noted, “It’s an amazing show and I’m really delighted to go in and raise the trophy. All wins are special, but now especially I take nothing for granted. Something like today, it means a lot for me.”
Beezie Madden Rides to Victory
There were 46 entries in the $33,000 AON Cup 1.50m, and five of those found the path to a clear round and tackled the shortened course. From those, Beezie Madden was fastest to win on Coral Reef Via Volo, a 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Clinton x Heartbreaker owned by Coral Reef Ranch.
First into the jump-off was Nick Dello Joio (USA) on Carlos VHP Z owned by EM Horses. They put down a quick, clear round in 41.82 seconds, which would slot into fourth place. Next in was Antonio Maurer (MEX) on Charro owned by Salvador Onate. They had eight faults in 41.38 seconds for fifth place.
Pablo Barrios (VEN) and Zara Leandra, owned by ZL Group Inc., set the next time to beat at 39.69 seconds, but it would not be quite enough. They would finish in second place.
Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo then took the lead with a time of 39.36 seconds. Madden said of her jump-off ride, “I did the leave out, which was six (strides) up the first line. I think I actually got a little wide and not quite as fast to fence three. I tried to make up some time after that. I was quick to the double verticals and quick down the last line.”
Shane Sweetnam (IRL) tried to make it two wins in a row, but he was just off the time in 39.81 seconds with Sweet Oak Farm’s Fineman. They placed third.
“We’ve been together for a while now, so we have confidence in each other,” Madden said of her partnership with Coral Reef Via Volo. “Sometimes she’s difficult about one end of the ring or the corners of the ring, but she’s getting more and more used to this ring. (And) she’s getting more seasoned now and less things bother her.”
While Madden showed in Europe the past two weeks, Via Volo had two weeks rest from showing. “She felt good and fresh. I had to work her a little bit this morning! She felt great, which was good. I did this so I could qualify for the 1.50m on Saturday. She’ll do that and then the derby on Sunday,” Madden noted.
Sweetnam and Solerina Keep Early Lead
Riding out of the fifth position in the order, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Solerina were able to keep the lead through the entire competition. They set a very quick time of 64.70 seconds with no faults to win the $33,000 Suncast Cup 1.45m out of 48 total entries. The next fastest to finish in second place was another early in the order – Katie Dinan (USA) and Glory Days went second in the order and were clear in 66.36 seconds. Third place went to Francois Mathy (BEL) and Opus PSG, were finished in 70.16 seconds.
Sweetnam and Solerina, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Cruising x Diamond Lad owned by Sweet Oak Farm, did not have to go all out to win, and Sweetnam said he was surprised that his time held up.
He acknowledged, “I thought I’d finish in the top three, especially with Kent and Brianne and plenty of people there that I thought would catch me.” He also said that while it was quick, he left some in the tank for Solerina. “There was more. I’m still trying to keep her relaxed in there. I did think I could have been faster, maybe two seconds faster, but I tried to keep close enough to my plan and keep her within her range. I didn’t want to run her too fast and get her upset about things.”
Keeping Solerina happy is something that Sweetnam works on, and it includes an unusual item in her stall – a television. Sweetnam described her as a typical chestnut mare, “more than anybody,” and that he tries to work with her personality.
“She’s a bit quirky. I was wondering how she would be up here because there is a lot to look at here in the rings. It’s not out of badness, it’s more nerves. If you can keep her in the same routine all the time, she’s fine,” he explained. “She’s afraid of the TV (screens), so we have one in her stall. She’s watching ‘The Top 100 Moments of Spruce Meadows’ right now!”
Swail and Martha Louise Are Fastest
The $33,000 Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.45m was the first competition of the day in the International Ring. There were 47 combinations in the speed format, and it was Conor Swail of Ireland who was fastest with Martha Louise, a 9-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare by Maloubet de Pleville 1039 x Wolfgang owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. They sped around the course in 63.50 seconds.
Second place went to John Perez (COL) on Utopia in 64.72 seconds, while Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Wang Chung M2S were third in 65.44 seconds.
This was Martha Louise’s first win, although she has placed in eight out of nine competitions at the Spruce Meadows Summer Tournaments. Swail was happy to be back in the International Ring and noted, “She felt very good today. She was in here week one and then she has been a few weeks away (in other rings). When she went back in, I thought she felt more comfortable. She handled it very well. She jumped lovely.”
Despite losing his stirrup going into the double combination, Swail was able to ride through it and regain his stirrup before the next oxer. “It affected me. I think it’s nearly worse losing one because you have no balance. She didn’t jump the in and out particularly well I think because of me, where I was (with) my balance, but she was good to leave that double up,” Swail pointed out. “I was probably lucky that I have nice quality because she tries to do her best.”
While Swail got the win, he did not have to go all out today for victory. “Honestly, I think there was a bit left there today. It certainly wasn’t the fastest round that I’ve ever had with her. In that respect, it is nice to come out on top and not have them going crazy,” he said.
Swail originally purchased Martha Louise two years ago and she has been a consistent winner for him. She moved up to the higher levels this winter in Florida. “Since Sue (Grange) bought her, she has been absolutely amazing,” he commented. “She is just such a consistent horse. She is a really versatile mare; she can do many jobs. She did the grand prix last week, which was very big for her, but she handled it very well.”
Martha Louise is leading the Horse Health Care Championship presented by Pfizer Equine Division and Moore Equine Veterinary Clinic, which is awarded on Friday, July 5, to the horse/rider combination who accumulates the most points throughout the 1.45m Derby Series. Swail hopes that she will able to take that top prize.
Swail said that Martha Louise is not your typical chestnut mare. “She’s not like a mare at all, she is just so nice. She is so laid back. I think her temperament is the best part of her because she is very willing to do anything and try anything. When she goes in, she is laid back, but at the same time very careful and I think that is a great quality,” he said.
What Can You Do at Spruce Meadows?
Spruce Meadows includes affordable fun for the whole family. With admission starting at only $5 per person, and children (12 & under) and seniors (65 & up) free, it is the perfect venue to unwind and enjoy a day of show jumping, activities, delicious food and shopping. Limited Reserved Seating tickets are also available – for full details, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
From Friday through Sunday, there will be a number of activities for the whole family (all included in your admission to Spruce Meadows) such as Pony Rides, presented by Kozy Shack, the Spruce Meadows Prairie Dogs, presented by RE/MAX, Wagon Rides, Face Painting, children’s games in the Garden Court Restaurant and more! Delicious food is offered throughout the grounds, featuring a healthy menu at the Garden Court Restaurant, a wide range of options at the Time Faults Public House, and International Fare in the Plaza.
Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7 will feature the Royal Occasion Brunch – all are welcome to join us at the royally inspired breakfast from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm in the Meadowgreen Building, adjacent to the Meadows on the Green Ring. Fresh berries and cream, scones, pancakes, sausages and more will be complimentary to the first 3,000 guests. In light of the recent flood in Southern Alberta, Rush Seating for Saturday and Sunday will be complimentary. Reserved Seating and Club International tickets are available on our website in advance.
Looking to test your luck? Spruce Meadows has several contest options for those wanting to win excellent prizes, including the CN/Sun Media Name the Foal contest featuring a chance to name future show jumping star and a trip to the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, and the Win a Year contest, with a chance to win a year of access to all Spruce Meadows events. If you are looking for some retail therapy, vendors in the Gallery on the Green and Vendor Village offer an excellent variety of gifts and services, both equine and non-equine in nature.
The ‘North American’ continues tomorrow with the $33,000 Horse Health Cup 1.45m, $35,000 Process Energy Cup 1.50m, and the $35,000 PwC Cup 1.60m. For more information and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the brainchild 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 www.sprucemeadows.com.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations