Winning with a Rail

Friday marked the start of the final weekend of the 2018 Spruce Meadows Summer Series. Great sport, entertainment and family fun were underway on the grounds for all to enjoy.

The International Ring began with the ATCO Connect Cup (1.45m) and 67 horse/rider combinations started the competition with the hopes of jumping into the winners circle. Only three combinations would jump clear in round one to advance into the jump-off. Rich Fellers (USA), Luis Alejandro Plascencia (MEX) and Eric Lamaze (CAN) each were ready to take on the jump off track designed by FEI course designer Santiago Varela (ESP). Fellers was first into the ring for the jump off and had a rail to leave the door open for the remaining two riders. Plascencia decided to take it steady and would end his jump off round with 5 time faults leaving a door and window open for Lamaze to take the win. A couple of unlucky rails for Lamaze would leave Fellers with the unlikely win with a rail in the jump-off.

“I started coming here (Spruce Meadows) in 1977 and I don’t recall ever winning in the jump-off with a rail.” – Rich Fellers (USA)

Young Guns Give it Their All

The McNerney Family U25 Winning Round was the final competition for riders competing in the U25 division to gain points that counted toward the overall title of 2018 U25 Series Champion. Leading the series coming into the final was Ben Asselin (CAN) but he elected not to start the final competition of the series making him no longer eligible for the overall series championship. The 2017 U25 Series Champion was Juan Jose Zendejas (MEX) and he was looking to claim the title for a second year, his last year of eligibility.

Uma O’Neill (USA) was sitting in third for overall points going into the final U25 competition of the series but a costly rail in round one would take her out contention for Series Champion as Zendejas and Nicole Walker (CAN) were among those with top overall points of the series and made it to the Winning Round of the final competition.

Zendejas took two horses into the McNerney Family U25 Winning Round and posted a quick clear ride to the top of the leader board with his first horse Artillero. The pressure was on the remaining competitors. Walker took a rail in the Winner Round leaving her to finish in forth. The only person to catch Zendejas’s winning ride was Zendejas himself on his second horse Just Nice Van Het Indihof. He would finish in both first and second in the McNerney Family U25 Winning Round and for the second year in a row, win the U25 Series Champion Award.

“Stars are born here (Spruce Meadows).” – Jim McNerney, presenting sponsor of the McNerney Family U25 Winning Round.

An Overdue Win for Ireland

The Pepsi Challenge (1.50m) was the final competition Friday of the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ CSI5*, presented by Rolex. Twenty-five horse/ride combinations stepped through the clock tower to take on the evening competition. Only six of riders, representing five different nations, would make it through round one with no faults.

Eduardo Menezes (BRA) was the first rider back through the clock tower for the jump off round and posted a clear jump off round and a quick time of 45.42s. The remaining riders had to speed up and take some risks in order to beat him. Both John Perez (COL) and Patricio Pasquel (MEX) had a similar jump off plan with each posting a clear round and times of 44.91s to tie for second place. Conor Swail (IRL) and his horse GK Coco Chanel have been knocking at the door all summer for a trip to the winners circle, and tonight was his night. Leaving the competition in the dust, he stopped the clock at 43.61s to take the win.

“He (GK Coco Chanel) likes coming here (Spruce Meadows) and every time he comes he grows up a little bit. I just had to be patient and the win would come.” – Conor Swail (IRL) on his horse’s consistent results throughout the 2018 Spruce Meadows Summer Series.

For complete Friday results from the Spruce Meadows North American, click here.