Calgary, Alberta–June 13
The Irish team fought tooth and nail to prevail over the U.S. “Stars” team in the $125,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Scotiabank at the Spruce Meadows Continental Tournament CSIO in a repeat of last year’s results in the class.
“The Americans were pressing us very hard, and we just kept pulling in clear rounds. It was a fantastic achievement for all of us,” said Conor Swail or the Irish team.
The Irish team was made up of Shane Sweetnamon Eregast vant Kiezelhof, Richie Moloney on Slieveanorra, Darragh Kenny on Sans Souci Z, and Conor Swail on Lansdowne. All but Swail are based permanently in the United States.
The $125,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Scotiabank was the final regional qualifier for North and Central America in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Series. While Ireland won the competition, it was Canada and the United States who qualified from the region for the final this October in Barcelona.
The U.S. “Stars” team of Charlie Jayne on Chill R Z, Kent Farrington on Ambler Gambler, McLain Ward on HH Cannavaro and Rich Fellers on Flexible finished on a score of 8 faults for second. The other U.S. team, the “Stripes” team (Leslie Howard/Tic Tac, Charlie Jacobs/Flaming Star, Kirsten Coe/Baronez and Jonathan McCrea/Special LUX) finished with 17 faults for third. The two home teams of Canada came in fourth and fifth.
|The Irish team of (from left) Shane Sweetnam, Darragh
Kenny, Chef d’Equipe Robert Splaine, Richie Moloney
and Conor Swail topped the Furusiyya FEI Nations
Cup at the Spruce Meadows Continental tournament.
Photo by Spruce Meadows Media Services
Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Splaine, the four Irish riders put in solid performances in both rounds to finish with just 3 time faults over the two rounds. Splaine remarked, “It’s an achievement. To win here is a fantastic honor. My job is easy; I had four guys who did their best in the ring. It’s a credit to them that they made a very difficult job look easy. A particular thanks to Scotiabank and to Spruce Meadows for putting on a great show again, [as well as] the owners of all the great horses, and the grooms who play a significant part.”
In the first round, Kenny and Caroline Lloyd’s Sans Souci Z were the only totally clear trip for Ireland, despite losing a shoe before the fourth fence. “I was turning to number 4, and I felt him slip a little bit. I knew the time allowed was still tight, so I had to be as quick as possible,” Kenny recalled. After getting the shoe put back on, they returned in the second round to have just 1 time fault.
Moloney and Sweetnam both had 1 time fault in Round 1 and bettered their scores with clears in the second round. “When we walked the course, we definitely thought it was a challenge,” Sweetnam said. “[Course designer] Anthony D’Ambrosio did a great job. It was plenty big jumps out there. We were neck and neck with the Americans.”
|Charlie Jayne and Chill R Z jumped the only double-
clear performance in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup
to help lead the U.S. “Stars” team to second.
Photo by Spruce Meadows Media Services
After the first round, Ireland sat in first place with just 2 faults, while the U.S. “Stars” team had just 4 faults. After Sweetnam and Moloney turned in clear second-round goes, with Kenny picking up just 1 times fault, Swail and Lansdowne did not have to return for the second round.
The “Stars” team added 4 faults in Round 2 to finish on 8 faults for second place. They were led by Jayne and Chill R Z, owned by Alex R. Jayne, who were the only double clear combination on the day with no jumping or time faults.
Jayne and Chill R Z went in fresh to the Nations Cup having not shown at Spruce Meadows this year before today. “He felt fantastic. He walked straight into the ring,” Jayne affirmed. “He jumped a great first round and even better the second round. I couldn’t be happier with him. I felt confident going early, knowing that he’s a solid horse and he’ll perform with any conditions.”
Jayne said he was “a little surprised” that he was the only double clear of the competition, but noted that time did play a factor in the class. “Riders took more chances than they would,” he said. “I rode it more like a speed round [in] the first round.
With the qualifier at Spruce Meadows and this year’s new event in Coapexpan, Mexico, there are now three Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ qualifiers for North and Central America. Jayne said, “It’s great to have another Nations Cup in North America. It’s very important that we have this Nations Cup, and it’s great what Furusiyya and the FEI are doing.”
Splaine concluded, “This is top sport. I go to all of the Nations Cup shows. It was significantly tougher [here] than last year. They haven’t missed a beat at Spruce Meadows.”