/ Equestrian

Irish riders grab attention at Calgary's five-star show in Spruce Meadows

Updated: Thursday, 04 Jul 2013 12:17 | Comments

Conor Swail
Conor Swail

Irish riders claimed victory in three of the four competitions held on the first day at Calgary's five-star show in Spruce Meadows, Canada on Wednesday.

Co. Down's Conor Swail was first off the mark with a win in the Friends of the Meadows Cup, steering Susan & Ariel Grange's mare Martha Louise to an $8,000 reward, scorching home over a second faster than Colombia's John Perez and Utopia.

The Irish-bred stallion Wang Chung m2s took third place with Canada's Eric Lamaze on board.

The Irish Sport Horse mare Solerina, who is by the famous stallion Cruising, gave a win to Cork's Shane Sweetnam in the Suncast Jumper Cup, seeing off American challenger Katie Dinan and Glory Days with almost two seconds in hand, and earning Sweetnam similar prize money to Swail.

The 32-year-old Irishman was first to jump in the class, but set a time that none of the 41 international riders who followed him could match.

Later in the evening, Kanturk-born Sweetnam took a third place in the big Aon Cup jump-off competition, piloting Sweet Oak Farm's gelding Fineman, while Swail took sixth on the stallion Lansdowne. The competition was won by the USA's Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo.

However, on the feature class of the night, the Sun Life Jump-Off, Mayo's Cameron Hanley snatched victory from top US rider McLain Ward for the $8,750 prize, making it a remarkable three out of four wins for Ireland against a world-class field at Calgary.

Hanley, who has only recently returned from a long injury lay-off that threatened his career, rode Eleonore Paschoude & Yves Bouvier's gelding Antello Z, while Ward and the Swedish-bred Cadence trailed the Irishman by almost two seconds in the four-horse jump-off.

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