Lexington, KY -The Split Rock Jumping Tour hosted a fantastic $40,000 Hollow Creek Farm CSI3* Grand Prix this afternoon, with Irishman Conor Swail riding Ilan Ferder's Viva Colombia to the win in quite a competitive jump-off. An international field of 42 horse and rider combinations representing Venezuela, Canada, Russia, Germany, New Zealand, Colombia, Ireland and the United States competed over Anthony D'Ambrosio's challenging track. 11 returned for the jump-off.
"We've got a good field, more than forty in the class, and the riders can ride two horses," D'Ambrosio noted. "The course is technical and it's careful, not overly big or overly scopey, but it's not easy. Early on, they have to negotiate a 1.50m plank and then six forward strides on the outside track to 4a and it's a little short inside to 4b with horizontal, striped rails. It's proving to be difficult. At the end of the course is element 10, a triple bar that has an 1.85m spread, with eight steady strides to the triple combination, a nice oxer jumping in at 11a, and the distance gets a little short to 11c."
With 4a and 4b as well as 11a and 11b coming down most often, the lines the veteran course designer mentioned were technically challenging spots that required a well-ridden plan. Predicting ten to twelve clean, D'Ambrosio hit the mark when eleven returned.
Of those who jumped-off, first to return Colombian Roberto Teran aboard Woklahoma (Ark Partners, LLC. owners) had two rails down. Those scoring four faults included Swail on his first mount Martha Louise (owned by Susan & Ariel Grange), Jonathan McCrea with Candy Tribble's Special Lux, American Margie Engle riding her second mount, Elm Rock Partners, LLC's Royce, and American Sarah Segal on Chartwell's Ubris. Segal was fast and clean until the final element, when that heartbreak final fence came down, ultimately the fastest four-faulter for 7th place.
First to go double clean was Margie Engle, the Leading Rider Award Winner from the Split Rock Jumping Tour in May, who set the time to beat at 39.79 on Elm Rock, LLC's Abunola. But David Beisel didn't waste a second, picking a tight inside track on Harlow Investment Enterprises, LLC's Call Me Hannes to stop the clock in a quick 37.12. The third Irishman to join the jump-off, Richie Moloney rode Equinimity, LLC's Alsvid to a tidy clean, just a touch shy of Beisel's time in 37.55, ultimately third place. Russia's Liubov Kochetova piloted her own Veyron to a fault-free round, not quite fast enough to touch the top in 40.67. Swail returned ready to win aboard Viva Colombia. Knowing what he had to do to take the lead, he masterfully rode the inside track in a slick 35.94 for the win, relegating Beisel to second. Last to go was Canada's Mac Cone on Gaspar Van Den Doorn (owned by Chadbourne Holdings, LLC), clean in a conservative 41.43.
Aside from Swail, another shining element of the day was The Rock Jumping Field, with newly-installed ESI footing. After twenty-one horses competed, and the crew prepared for a drag, the skies opened up and rain came pouring down for a solid twenty minutes. Once the rain receded, the class continued with not a single footing issue.
After competing and going clean on one before and one after the rain, Martha Louise and Viva Colombia, respectively, plus a jump-off, Swail said, "The footing held up very well. We had a pretty heavy shower in the middle of the class, and as you can see now, we're standing here on dry ground."
And D'Ambrosio further complimented the quality of the course. "The material is fantastic, it's Steve Stephens' design. The rails are very straight. It's exceptionally good material that you don't see at every event."
After the awards ceremony on the podium and the victory gallop, Swail noted his strategy in his EqSportsNet interview. "I felt I needed to be on the inside turn after the vertical to the in-and-out, just to make sure that I would get the win. Sometimes fortune favors the brave, and today it worked out. I've got to thank David (Beisel) for that, for making me take that turn, it wasn't my favorite. Other than that I just didn't let up."
Swail is now on his way to earning the Split Rock Jumping Tour Leading Rider Award, which means driving away in brand new Toyota RAV 4. Of his first time at this event, he commented favorably. "It's been absolutely excellent. I'm delighted to be here and glad that I got the invitation to come."
For more information visit SplitRockJumpingTour.com