Conor Swail wins $500,000 Spruce Meadows Grand Prix while David Blake shines at Tryon

  • 12 June 2016, 11:51

Co Down’s Conor Swail scored one of his biggest career wins to-date, when he captured the RBC Bank $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix, at Spruce Meadows five-star show in Canada in the early hours of this morning.

Almost 30,000 spectators packed into the world famous Calgary arena and witnessed the Irishman in stunning form, as he beat off a top class international field to win with the 12-year-old mare Martha Louise.

swail spruce meadows

Conor Swail lifts the champions trophy with Jeff Boyd, Regional President of RBC Royal Bank

Just five of the 33 starters managed to jump clear over the first round course, which was built by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil, who will be designing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Swail was last to go in the jump-off and knocked over a second of the target which had been set by former World No. 1 – Canada’s Eric Lamaze with Fine Lady 5, as the Irishman denied the watching audience a home win.

Conor Swail Martha Louise

Conor Swail and Martha Louise

Of his win, Swail said,

“Honestly, I’m over the moon. I thought today, in this big ring, it’s one of the biggest wins I’ve had here. I was just saying to Eric earlier in the day that I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot because Martha hasn’t shown so much since Florida. She really excelled today. It’s nice sometimes when you get a bit of a surprise. I suppose when Martha Louise comes here, she loves this arena. She was amazing, phenomenal today.”

The competition saw another excellent result for Irish breeding, as American Rich Fellers finished third with the age-defying Irish Sport Horse Flexible. The incredible 20-year-old son of Cruising, who was bred in Kildare by Edward and Catherine Doyle, jumped double clear to finish just behind Lamaze.

“It’s kind of getting to the point where I’m literally living a dream,” said Fellers of his long-time Irish partner. “He felt as good today as he’s ever felt. There’s really no explanation. I do notice little things day-to-day, working with him, he’s getting older and he has some of the typical characteristics of an older athlete. But when he walks in the ring, he gets young. Maybe he gets a lot out of adrenaline. We just take it day by day and see how he feels.”

Irish riders were also in sparkling form overnight at Tryon five-star international in North Carolina. Co Clare’s David Blake scored a third place finish in the $380,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix riding Binkie.

Blake has been in superb form in recent weeks and felt Binkie was in top form heading into the five-star class.

“I thought last week he felt great and was a bit unlucky. He jumped great and had a rail down in the jump-off, but I knew that he was ready for this week. I felt like we were a bit unlucky in the Welcome, so I knew we were knocking on the door for a good performance.”

Cork’s Shane Sweetnam finished sixth with Chaqui Z, while Richie Moloney (Carrabis Z) and Andrew Bourns (Hyakari), also finished inside the top 10.

In Dressage, Irish Junior rider Sophie Daly finished third in this morning’s Small Tour Kur final at Hagen in Germany. Daly partnered Eicke II to a score of 64.95%.

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