Conor Swail comes out on top at Rolex Grand Prix in Tyron

First faultless round came from Co Down man riding Rose Hill Farm’s 12-year-old La Silla stallion Rubens LS La Silla

Conor Swail rides to victory at the Rolex Grand Prix in Tyron.

Conor Swail rides to victory at the Rolex Grand Prix in Tyron.

 

Irish riders dominated the $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix in Tyron, North Carolina on Saturday night when they filled half of the top six places in the five-star class.

From a starting line-up of 26, only three riders went clear over the 1.60m track designed by the USA’s Anthony d’Ambrosio with the first faultless round coming from Co Down’s Conor Swail riding Rose Hill Farm’s 12-year-old La Silla stallion Rubens LS La Silla.

In the jump-off, Swail was again clear on the chestnut and finished first ahead of Co Limerick’s Paul O’Shea, who had two fences down against the clock with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, and the USA’s Margie Engle who picked up 12 faults on Royce. Co Cork’s Shane Sweetman finished sixth as, riding Indra van de Oude Heihoef, he was third fastest of those who had a fence down in round one.

“My horse has had a great year so far and he was coming in here with a lot of confidence,” commented Swail. “I thought that the time was going to be a little bit of an issue for me in the first round, but thankfully I squeezed just inside it. It started off a little scratchy 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.

“My two guys (Rubens LS La Silla and GK Coco Chanel) that I have here are going 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,” concluded Swail.

In Europe, the weekend’s five-star action took place in Helsinki where, on Saturday afternoon, Tipperary native Denis Lynch partnered The Sinner (35.28) into third place in the Land Rover 1.60m Grand Prix. Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt took the top prize of €25,500 when recording his second clear in 32.30 on board Asathir with The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten claiming the runner-up spot on Dana Blue (32.93).

Ireland’s sole win in Herning, Dermark on Saturday came in the 1.25m pony jump-off class which went the way of north Co Dublin’s Aisling McGuinness on board Poels Equestrian’s 13-year-old bay gelding Calimero.

There was mixed luck on Saturday for the Irish riders competing in the FEI world breeding championships for young event horses at Le Lion d’Angers in western France.

The cross-country phase had far less influence in the CCI1* for six-year-olds than anticipated with 34 of the 41 starters jumping clear and all but three of these doing so inside the time. Among those who had a problem on the course was England-based Co Kildare native Aoife Clark who dropped from 15th to 35 when Homme d’Hotot M took an initial dislike to the first element of fence 13, picking up 20 jumping penalties and 2.8 for time for a total of 51.7.

The USA’s Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp continues to lead on Cooley Moonshine (22.4 penalties) ahead of Britain’s Millie Dumas on Universal Colley (23.3) with her compatriot Kitty King third on Cristal Fontaine (25.4). Also home clear within the time were Ireland’s Clare Abbott on Jewelent (30.5) and Suzanne Hagan on OBOS Take One (32.7) who were lying 16th and 22nd following Saturday’s cross-country phase.

All the Irish moved up two places on Sunday morning as two horses, including Wild Wave, which had been lying sixth (26 penalties), was withdrawn. The Holstein bay was due to be ridden by Michael Jung but the German hurt his shoulder when, last out in the CCI2* class for seven-year-olds on Saturday afternoon, he had a fall with Choclat on which he had been in the lead.

Jung’s departure left his compatriot Ingrid Klimke back on top of leaderboard (as she had been following the first day of dressage) with the Brandenburg mare Asha P (25.3 penalties). Lying second and third overnight were Nicola Wilson with JL Dublin (25.6) and fellow British rider Tom Jackson who improved from seventh after dressage on the Irish Sport Horse Capels Hollow Drift (27.8).

Co Galway’s Cathal Daniels continues to be the highest-placed Irish rider before Sunday’s concluding show jumping phase but has now moved up to ninth with Michelle Nelson and Kieran Connor’s home-bred Samgemjee gelding OLS King Aragon (30.3).

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