For the second day in a row, Ireland’s Conor Swail emerged victorious to win the $35,000 CSI2* RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup, Phase II, presented by Aviva, and claim the coveted Caledon Cup trophy at the CSI2* Canadian Show Jumping Tournament held September 18 to 22 at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, ON.
On Saturday, Swail had topped a 22-horse starting field to win Phase I of the RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup competition riding Lansdowne. A day later, their fortunes remained the same, as the pair led the victory gallop after holding off jump-off challengers Ljubov Kochetova of Russia, David Arcand, the father and son double threat of Ian and Jonathon Millar, and their student, Jordan MacPherson.
While 10 had found their way around Michel Vaillancourt’s track on Saturday without incurring faults, only eight would be successful on Sunday. However, MacPherson’s was the only new face amongst the jump-off line-up, as Vaillancourt once again pitted the best against the best in the all-deciding final round. The individual silver medalist at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Vaillancourt has been appointed course designer for the show jumping events at the 2015 Pan American Games, which will be hosted by the Caledon Equestrian Park.
For the second day in a row, Russia’s Ljubov Kochetova jumped clear with Wilford 2, only to be caught by the clock for one time fault, leaving her ninth in the final placings. Chris Sorensen of Caledon East, ON, who will be representing Canada next month in Nations’ Cup competition in Brazil, turned in the fastest four-fault performance riding The Jolly Group’s Wriomf to round out the top 10.
Twenty-three-year-old David Arcand of Mont-Royal, QC, produced the only four-fault performance in the jump-off to slot into eighth position with Vledder, his 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
With seven riders again producing clear rounds in the jump-off, time would be the final decider. Jonathon Millar of Perth, ON, was the first rider back to attempt the shortened jump-off track with Contino 14, turning in a time of 41.51 seconds. He would soon be overtaken by the next rider in the line-up, Swail riding Game Ready, owned by Susan Grange, who stopped the clock in 39.03. Shaving exactly three seconds off the Irishman’s time was Jordan MacPherson, 23, who stopped the clock in 36.03 seconds with Piccobello du Val de Geer. No strangers to the winner’s circle at the Caledon Equestrian Park, the Toronto native and her 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare had won the $35,000 CSI2* RAM Equestrian Grand Prix in August.
Ljubov Kochetova of Russia took a shot with Aslan, falling short in 38.81 seconds to place fourth overall while MacPherson’s coach, 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar of Perth, ON, came close with Star Power, crossing the timers in 37.33 seconds to take third place for Team Works.
MacPherson’s time had only to withstand one last challenger in the form of Swail and Lansdowne, who had claimed victory in dramatic fashion one day earlier. Proving to be on form, the pair tightened their turns and sailed around Vaillancourt’s track almost two seconds faster, stopping the clock in 34.07 seconds for victory.
“It always helps to go last, although Jordan was very quick and she made it where I had to take all the risks and hope that everything worked out,” said Swail, 41. “My horse was terrific. There were a few turns where a horse with less quality might not have come back with the same result that he did. He’s obviously one of the favourites at the show, but it’s nice that he’s expected to do well and that he doesn’t let you down. That’s the sign of a top horse.”
Of the conditions, the rider who hails from County Down commented, “The new footing makes a huge difference, and it even showed in the results. The course was well-built, but the footing was so good that I think the horses jumped well off of it. There were more clears than I thought there would be.”
In addition to winning the $35,000 CSI2* RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup, Phase II, presented by Aviva, Swail was also awarded the RAM Equestrian Caledon Cup.
“It worked out well for Lansdowne,” said Swail of the 10-year-old chestnut Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Sue and Arial Grange of Cheltenham, ON. “It’s his last show of the year, and it’s great for him to finish off on the best note possible. Now he gets a well-deserved rest.”
Sunday’s victory marked the fourth one of the year for Swail at the Caledon Equestrian Park. Before winning back-to-back grand prix events at the Canadian Show Jumping Tournament with Lansdowne, Swail won the $20,000 Adequan Open Welcome with Martha Louise and the $30,000 RAM Equestrian Grand Prix with Game Ready, both owned by the Grange family, back in May. Before this year, he had never before competed at the Caledon Equestrian Park.
And Caledon Equestrian Park is the ideal host to international competition. Athletes come from all over the world to compete at the world-class facility, and the CSI2* Canadian Show Jumping Tournament was no exception.
“The riders jumped in reserve order of finish from yesterday, and the cream rose to the top,” said Craig Collins, managing partner of Equestrian Management Group, which operates the Caledon Equestrian Park. “It was an exciting jump-off. After Jordan MacPherson went, I didn’t think anyone would beat her, but the turn that Conor did at the top of the course was unbelievable! Lansdowne jumped beautifully and deserved to win.”
Collins continued, “Michel Vaillancourt did a great job and was complimented by everyone on his courses. Yesterday was a supreme test of the new footing with all of the rain, and everyone commented on how good the ground was and how good the footing was. We had riders from Ireland, Russia, Vanessa Mannix from Calgary, and Quebec was very well-represented. We had competitors from right across the country. And it was great to have Jonathon Millar back with us, qualifying two horses for the jump-off.”
While the Caledon Cup was the featured event of the day, the inaugural $20,000 MVS Solutions Junior/Amateur Pan Am Challenge proved to be a spectacular addition to the Tournament’s schedule. Riders qualified throughout the season in the 1.20m, 1.30m and 1.40m divisions, and went head-to-head jumping at their respective heights at the Canadian Show Jumping Tournament. Sydney Vince, competing in the 1.30m section of the competition, emerged victorious riding Echodancer van de Heffinck, earning $6,000 in prize money for owner Trinity Farms of Burlington, ON. Page Mawson and her own Under Pressure took second place and $5,000 in prize money while Adrien Vilcini and her Gervantus earned $3,000 for their third place finish.
The CSI2* Canadian Show Jumping Tournament is proud to benefit the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, raising more than $15,000 in 2013 for the non-profit organization. This year’s fundraiser saw corporate partners uniting to underwrite the costs of hosting a two-day Children’s Wish celebration which included brunch and ringside tables for Saturday and Sunday’s grand prix events. Thanks to the generosity of Alberta Premium, Brick Brewery Co., Brookvalley Developments, Schickendanz Brothers, TechPower Developments, and Gourmandissimo Catering and Fine Foods, every dollar from the purchase of tickets went directly to the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.
With the final event of the season having come to a conclusion, phase two of construction now begins at the Caledon Equestrian Park in preparation for hosting the 2015 Pan American Games. A new grand prix stadium, spectator pavilion, indoor complex, and new FEI barn are all expected to be complete by spring of 2014.
For more information on the CSI2* Canadian Show Jumping Tournament, including full results, please visit www.equiman.com.