Canada’s Peter Grant set the track on Sunday with 33 entries contesting the first round course. Five combinations jumped clear to advance to the jump-off and the tight time allowed kept three others out of the running with just one time fault. It was a great demonstration of skill, power, and speed as the top competitors raced against the clock in the second round, but no one jumped clean. In the end, the four-fault round of Conor Swail and Lansdowne earned top prize with a time of 42.18 seconds.
All but one of the riders in the jump-off had the same red skinny jump down – the one that also got the best of Swail and Lansdowne. Daniel Bluman and Sancha LS had four faults at the skinny and finished second with their time of 46.80 seconds. Cameron Hanley and Antello were clear until the last fence and finished on four faults in 47.59 seconds to place third. Both Brianne Goutal and Tiffany Foster had two rails down, including the red skinny and the last fence. Goutal and Remarkable Farms’ Onira finished on eight faults in 41.46 seconds to place fourth. Foster and Artisan Farms’ Verdi III incurred eight faults in 41.99 seconds to place fifth.
Owned by Susan and Ariel Grange, the ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Lansdowne (Guidam x Wolfganag) has had a fantastic circuit showing at Spruce Meadows this summer. In last week’s ‘North American’ Tournament alone, Lansdowne was second in the $200,000 ATCO POWER Queen Elizabeth II Cup, finished fourth in the $35,000 Progress Energy Canada Cup 1.50m and placed sixth in the $33,000 AON Cup 1.50m. He also jumped double clear for the Irish team in the $100,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ during June’s 'Continental' Tournament. Rider Conor Swail could not be happier with the horse’s progress and ultimate victory to wrap up the circuit.
“It is wonderful,” he smiled. “Already I have had an amazing show. All of my horses have been amazing, but to top it off with Lansdowne winning is just fantastic.”
“He is a real cool horse,” Swail described. “He is very laid back and he has a real swagger. He definitely works off of confidence. He has had a fabulous tournament here and I think it has really helped him grow. To me, he is a much better horse the last week than he was the first week. He has put in some fabulous rounds throughout and there is so much confidence there and scope and carefulness. He is a joy to ride. It was easy for me to have such good quality.”
Swail and Lansdowne went third in the jump-off and did not get to watch the first two rounds of Goutal and Foster. He knew they did not go clear, but he stuck to his plan knowing that Bluman and Hanley were still to follow.
“I knew Brianne and Tiffany both had faults and I knew there were two good riders behind me too, so it was sort of immaterial to be honest,” Swail stated. “I think I had to go in and put in a good round and hopefully it was going to be enough. Thankfully, even though we had a mistake, it still was enough.”
Swail and Lansdowne have known each other for quite some time and have started to form a great partnership after being reunited last year.
“I bought him as a seven-year-old and then rode him for his eight-year-old year and he was absolutely exceptional,” Swail explained. “I sold him to Sue and he was away for three or four months and then I got him back just in the beginning of last year. It is really starting to come together. Honestly, it looks like he is a world-class horse now, which is what I had always hoped he would be, so it is very exciting.”
“I think it is important also to mention my owners,” he added. “Without them this isn’t possible, so it is great to have Sue and Ariel and their family there supporting me and enjoying the sport as much as I do. Without it I would be standing there watching like everyone else. These classes don’t come so often, so it is nice to be able to enjoy it whenever we get the chance.”
Lansdowne now has a busy schedule coming up as he flies to Europe on Monday night and will compete on the Irish team for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ in Dublin, followed by the European Championships and then back to Spruce Meadows for the ‘Masters’ Tournament in September.
“He is still busy and there are some big events coming up, so it could not have worked out any better the way he has finished up here,” Swail acknowledged. “I am really happy with him and I am looking forward to September, especially with him and the way he is going. Hopefully he will have a nice chance there for the $1 million.”
In addition to the grand prix festivities on Sunday, the 2013 G&C Farm Riders’ Cup Series concluded and awarded $25,000 in bonus money to the top competitors of the summer. The bonus is presented to the top three FEI riders who showed in the 1.50m and 1.60m divisions held during the Spruce Meadows Sumer Series. The athlete accruing the most points at the ‘National’, ‘Continental’, ‘Canada One’, ‘North American’, and ‘Pan American’ Tournaments was awarded the championship bonus.
Following a very consistent circuit with top placings throughout all of the tournaments, 19-year-old U.S. rider Reed Kessler was awarded the championship prize of $15,000. In second place, Beezie Madden (USA) earned a $7,000 bonus, and in third, McLain Ward was awarded $3,000.
On winning the series, Kessler smiled, “I am thrilled. I was thinking when I had that rail down today that I had blown it and I knew I was leading the bonus, but I got a little lucky. I have had a pretty consistent Spruce and all of the horses have jumped great. My whole team has worked really hard for me, so it’s great to walk away as the most consistent rider. Spruce is always on our map every year, whether it is the summer series or the ‘Masters’. It’s a fantastic destination, so it is a big honor to be the leading rider here.”
Reed Kessler and Cylana in the championship presentation for the $25,000 G&C Farm Riders’ Cup Series with Spruce Meadows President and CEO Linda Southern Heathcott. Photo © Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Kessler acknowledged how her top horses have developed throughout the series and learned from their experiences this summer. She has a big European tour planned for the remainder of the summer and feels confident moving ahead.
“Cylana is pretty seasoned now but she has always loved it here,” the rider stated. “It is huge and she loves to work hard. I also had a new, greener horse in Wolf and I am very fortunate to have brought him here. I think he has come out of the circuit like a totally new horse.”
Kessler was aiming for the G&C Farm bonus all summer and was quite happy to walk away with the win.
“I had an eye on it,” she admitted. “I had been in the lead for most of the time, but I didn’t do either of the derbies because I didn’t really have a horse for it, so the other riders started to gain ground on me. I thought maybe I wasn’t going to win it, but it was nice to bring it home in the end. It’s a nice thank you to my whole team and my horses who have been working so hard this whole series.”
Final Results: $400,000 Spruce Meadows ‘Pan American’ Grand Prix
1. LANSDOWNE: 2003 KWPN stallion by Guidam x Wolfgang CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ariel & Susan Grange: 0/4/42.18
2. SANCHA LS LA SILLA: 2003 SLS mare by Chin Chin x Polydor DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman: 0/4/46.80
3. ANTELLO: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Animo Z x Continue CAMERON HANLEY (IRL), Eleonore Paschoude & Yves Bouvier: 0/4/47.59
4. ONIRA: 1996 KWPN gelding by Nimmerdor x Ramiro Z BRIANNE GOUTAL (USA), Remarkable Farms LP: 0/8/41.46
5. VERDI III: 2002 KWPN gelding by Hors la Loi III x Cantus TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/8/41.99
6. DOMINO: 2003 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Thunder Van de Zuuthoeve x Azur Depaulstra JOS VERLOOY (BEL), Axel Verlooy: 1/89.64
7. ROMANTOVICH TAKE ONE: 2000 KWPN gelding by Numero Uno x Karandasj CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 1/89.76
8. JONKHEER Z: 2002 Zangersheide stallion by Jetset D x Skippy II KARL COOK (USA), Signe Ostby: 1/90.40
9. ROUNDTHORN MADIOS: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Condios x Clover Hill LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 4/84.68
10. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 4/85.98
11. AMARETTO D’ARCO: 2000 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Darco x Tenor Manciais SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm LLC: 4/86.44
12. UCEKO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Celano x Koriander KENT FARRINGTON (USA), RCG Farm: 4/86.67