Ireland's Conor Swail finished second in Thursday's seventh leg of the $130,000 Ruby et Violette Winter Equestrian Festival Challenge Cup in Wellington, Florida riding Finca Horses' Flower.
Co Down native Swail and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare were one of 14 combinations to go clear over the first round track designed by the USA’s Anthony D’Ambrosio. In the jump-off, Swail’s clear in a time of 34.14 was only bettered by the host nation’s Kent Farrington who, riding Creedance, stopped the clock on 33.92. Japan’s Karen Polle placed third on With Wings (34.24).
Earlier in the day, Co Meath’s Cian O’Connor and Callisto finished fourth (59.21) in a 1.45m speed class won by the USA’s Jessica Springsteen on Davendy S (56.41).
Team manager Michael Blake has named both O’Connor (Seringat) and Swail (Rubes LS La Silla) as members of the squad for the four-star Nations’ Cup taking place in Wellington on Friday, March 3rd.
The other riders are Derry's Daniel Coyle (Grafton), Kilkenny's Richie Moloney (Carrabis Z), Limerick's Paul O'Shea (Skara Glen's Machu Picchu) and Cork's Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z). Blake will announce his team of four next week.
In Europe, there were wins on Thursday for Irish riders in Sweden and Spain.
Denis Lynch is the sole Irish representative competing at five-star level in Gothenburg where he won the 1.40m two-phase competition on Thomas Straumann's Ho Go van de Pandenborre.
The Tipperary rider completed the second phase in 29.29 on the Belgian Warmblood stallion, a 10-year-old by Darco. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann took second with Lucky Silvana Z in 29.91, just ahead of French rider Olivier Robert on Fleur de Lune (30.25).
At Vejer de la Frontera in south west Spain, Co Down’s Dermott Lennon recorded a comfortable victory in the day’s highest graded class, a 1.50m speed competition, on Judith Sossick’s home-bred Loughview Lou-Lou, a 15-year-old mare by Limmerick.
In Mijas, on the south east coast, Sligo’s Richard Howley won a 1.45m speed class with Chinook, a Tygo seven-year-old owned by HK Horses and the Aitkenhead family.