Ireland produced a breathtaking display of world class show jumping on Thursday night to win the Canadian Nations’ Cup leg with a total of six clear rounds.
Under Team Manager Robert Splaine, the Irish quartet of Conor Swail, Darragh Kerins, Richie Moloney and Cameron Hanley delivered a remarkable succession of zero scores in the first round at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, with Swail and Hanley both repeating the magic in the second round to secure a definitive victory over six other teams from the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Swail was the pathfinder for the Irish team on Susan and Ariel Grange’s stallion Lansdowne, with Darragh Kerins next to go clear aboard the grey gelding E Muze Yek, who is jointly owned by the rider and Maarten Huygens.
Richie Moloney and the stallion Carrabis Z, which is owned by Equinimity LLC, delivered Ireland’s third clear round, while Cameron Hanley, making his Nations’ Cup debut after an almost two year injury lay-off, gave Ireland a remarkable fourth consecutive zero score on Eleonore Paschoude and Yves Bouvier’s gelding Antello Z.
With the USA team close behind on five faults at the halfway stage, Swail and Lansdowne rose to the challenge with a double clear round, and although both Kerins and Moloney faulted on their second attempts, 40 year-old Hanley and Antello Z fought through the driving rain of a thunderstorm to give Ireland another clear round and a total tally of just four faults.
The United States finished second on nine faults after collecting a further four in the second round.
“This was a great achievement by the Irish team at an extremely high level, by taking on the best of the USA, Canada and Mexico and winning so convincingly,” said team manager Robert Splaine.
“All our riders jumped a clear round, with double clears coming from Conor Swail and Cameron Hanley. It was great to see Cameron back at the top of his game in his first Nations’ Cup since his long injury lay-off, but overall I have to say it was a magnificent team performance, and I’d specially like to thank the owners, who made tonight possible,” he said.
“Cameron made a fantastic comeback at Wiesbaden. He was always a stalwart of the team and one of our strongest team riders so it was a huge loss when we didn’t have him for the last couple of years.
“This was a competition of the highest quality. I had an abundance of hope coming here – I knew the riders but only a little about some of the horses but I reckoned we were in with a good chance”.
Explaining the reason for Ireland’s participation at the Canadian event he said: “Irish riders are based all over the world and many of our horses are not owned by Irish people. Conor, Darragh Kerins and Darragh Kenny, who was our fifth man today, and Richie all have owners in this part of the world so we had an opportunity to field a team with the future in mind – looking ahead to Dublin, Hickstead and hopefully Barcelona as well as the European Championships. It would be a huge mistake not to field a team here, and they were particularly well mounted. For three of the horses it was their first Nations Cup. Only Conor’s Lansdowne competed in a Nations Cup before – at Gijon (Spain) last year,” Splaine said.
Hanley’s brother, Carl, bought Antello at a local show as a seven-year-old and Cameron rode him a year later, but when he sustained his injury the horse went to fellow-Irishman Alex Duffy and then to Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker who competed him successfully. When he returned to fitness, Hanley’s new Swiss sponsors Eleonore Paschoud and Yves Bouv told him to find a Grand Prix horse, and there was no doubt in his mind which one he wanted. He bought Antello back and, together with the 10-year-old horse, the 40-year-old Irishman’s career is right back on track.
The competition brought the North America, Central America and Caribbean League of the Furusiyya series to a close, with the USA finishing first but with just three points of an advantage over the runners-up from Canada while Mexico in third place. The top two teams, USA and Canada, have qualified for the series Final in three months’ time.
• Katie Dinan, 19, second-line rider for the runner-up USA Stripes team, was presented with the Furusiyya Rider of the Day award. “I feel very honoured. This is only my second Nations Cup and I really wanted to show I belonged on the team,” she said. “It’s a little more pressure being on a team, so I was happy with my performance today. ”
Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2013 – Round 11 Result:
1. Ireland 4 faults: Lansdowne (Conor Swail) 0/0, E Muze Yek (Darragh Kerins) 0/12, Carrabis Z (Richie Moloney) 0/4, Antello (Cameron Hanley) 0/0.
2. USA Stripes 9 faults: Nice de Prissey (Brianne Goutal) 5/4, Nougat du Vallet (Katie Dinan) 0/0, Campbell VDL (Candice King) 13/9, Rothchild (McLain Ward) 0/0.
3. Canada One 14 faults: Power Play (Eric Lamaze) 5/0, Verdi llll (Tiffany Foster) 4/5, Amor van de Rostal (Mac Cone) 5/1, Dixson (Ian Millar) 4/0.
4. USA Stars 24 faults: Blue Angel (Kent Farrington) 8/4, Mika (Reed Kessler) 4/4, Chill RZ (Charlie Jayne) 4/4, Zerly (Christine McCrea) 8/0.
5. Canada Two 30 faults: La Boom (Lisa Carlson) 5/9, Bobby (Christian Sorenson) 9/0, Makavoy (Ben Asselin) Elim/4, Showgirl (Jonathan Asselin) 4/8.
6. Mexico Azteca 35 faults: Crossing Jordan (Nicolas Pizzaro Suarez) 12/0, Spirit Magic (Manuel Alvarez) 13/8, Gitano (Frdeico Fernandez) 13/5, Criptonite (Enrique Gonzalez) 0/5.
7. Mexico Maya 26 faults IN ROUND 1 : Careyes (Patricio Pasquel) 17, Valentina (Claudia Lorenza O Farrill) 13, Vicky van het Geinsteinde (Alejandro Plascencia) 4, Skylubet (Ricardo Nizri) 9.
North America, Central America and Caribbean League – Final Standings after second leg at Spruce Meadows:
1. USA – 175
2. Canada – 172
3. Mexico – 135