Mexico’s Antonio Maurer emerged victorious in Friday’s LaFarge Cup 1.50m during an exciting evening of competition at the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament CSI5*, presented by Rolex. Galileo de Laubry, a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Cardento I x Askan de Lauzelle), gave Maurer the second win of his career in Spruce Meadows’ famous International Ring after almost a 15-year lull. Earlier in the evening, Daniel Coyle (IRL) also took a win in the renowned arena, topping the Pepsi U25 Challenge aboard Somerset.
Twenty-nine entries started over Santiago Varela’s (ESP) course for the LaFarge Cup Friday night with nine clear rounds. Three qualified entries chose not to return for the jump-off, where six continued on, and only two entries jumped double clear. Molly Ashe (USA) and Louisburg Farm’s Cat Ballou set the pace with the first clear round over the short course in 47.94 seconds. They settled for second place when Maurer and Galileo de Laubry raced through the timers in 45.80 seconds, last to go, for the win.
Maurer also took third place honors, with one fence down in a very fast time of 43.27 seconds on his first jump-off mount, Fernanda Saad’s Magnus Jaen Mail. Jaclyn Duff (CAN) was close behind, with one rail down in 43.45 seconds to place fourth aboard her own Pater Noster. Commenting on his victory, Maurer stated, “It has been a very good tour, and finishing the tour with the horses jumping like this is really exciting. I have not come into the International Ring in the golf cart as a
winner for a very long time, so I am very happy. I can’t remember how long ago, but it has been a good 15 years since I last won here. It feels amazing. I was second yesterday, and I was beat by the last rider, and I almost cried. Today I was lucky, because I was the last one in the jump-off. It helped me. I already had one horse in the jump-off, so I knew the course, and how it rode. When I saw Molly’s time, I knew that I could be a little quieter, and not risk that much with my second one.”
Maurer purchased Galileo de Laubry in December of 2015, but took a fall and needed surgery on his collarbone shortly after, so he only started riding the horse about four months ago. “He was a hot horse, and I think the guy that I bought him from did a really good job getting the horse quiet, and not pushing him,” Maurer detailed. “He turned out to be a very nice and kind horse.”
Molly Ashe was happy with her second place finish aboard Cat Ballou, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cassini II x Lacantus) that is coming into his own recently. Speaking of her jump-off round, Ashe detailed, “I went for the slow clear tonight. We did not show the first week here this season because the horses had been off for a while and we had to get them up and running again. We started showing the second week in the Summer Series, and we threw him right in the grand prix, which was not fair. He got a little scared, so I am actually very pleased with the result tonight. It was a nice note to end on for him. He really came back from a bad place that we got him into. He really was a trooper and he felt really good tonight, so I was happy with that.”
Concluding an exciting night by remarking on what keeps him coming back to Spruce Meadows year after year, Maurer smiled, “This is an amazing place. They upgrade every year. It is amazing the way the riders are treated, and it is amazing the quality of the footing and the jumps. If you can walk the course and look at the little details on the jumps, how they are painted and how the poles are maintained, it is very impressive. The amount of work they have to put into everything here is incredible. If you get here tomorrow at 7 a.m., this whole place shines. To manage that with the amount of horses here takes a lot. This place is just different from any other venue. That brings you back always; everything is completely different here.”
The Pepsi U25 Challenge was held early Friday evening at Spruce Meadows, with 29 entries and a ninehorse jump-off, held over a 1.45m track set by Santiago Varela (ESP). The win went to Ireland’s Daniel Coyle, a 21-year-old rider, who burst onto the North American scene this year with the ride on many talented horses for Susan Grange’s Lothlorien Farm.
For the win on Friday, Coyle guided Grange’s Somerset, an eight-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare (For Pleasure x Oklund) to the fastest double clear round in 39.48 seconds. Coyle’s time pushed Kara Chad (CAN) and Torrey Pines Stable’s Tisele du Park to second place with their round in 39.90 seconds. Hilary McNerney (USA) and Z Acodate DDL settled for third on their time of 42.24 seconds. Theodore Boris (USA) jumped into fourth place aboard Icon d’Or in a time of 43.03, and Andres Azcarraga Rivera Torres (MEX) finished fifth with Jaime Azcarraga’s Al Capone in 43.40 seconds. Boris also took sixth place honors aboard Hip Star in 43.99 seconds.
Speaking of his winning mount, Somerset, Coyle stated, “She is only eight and I actually can’t believe that she was fit to go that fast at that height. She only just moved up to that level. We always knew she was going to be a good horse, but we have been trying to get it out of her. Just in the last month here she has been fabulous and I could not be happier. She tried really hard out there.”
Somerset was jumping in the impressive International Ring at Spruce Meadows for the very first time Friday night and handled the atmosphere like a pro. “Most horses go in there and spook and stall,” Coyle noted. “Some horses don’t like it, but I think it actually helped her, and made it easier in some ways. I think she is going to be a real good horse for the future. I asked her a lot of questions and she answered them all.”
Coyle began riding for Lothlorien Farm at the beginning of this year and traveled to compete for them at Spruce Meadows for the first time this summer with great success. Speaking of the opportunity, he stated, “I could never put into words how much I need to thank Sue Grange, and Ariel Grange, and John Grange, as well as Conor Swail, who is a really big help to me. We are a great team together and I could not be happier to ride all of their horses. I am trying to do as good a job as I can and I can feel the horses getting slightly better all the time. Hopefully, if everything goes right, we will have a bright future together. “When I left Ireland, a lot of people on this side of the water did not really know me, so it is always good to make a good impression,” Coyle added. “I have been lucky that way and the horses have been fabulous for me. If I do my job right, they usually can help, and we can win.”
Coyle had plans to jump Somerset again in Sunday’s 1.45m competition, but after a fantastic
performance Friday night, the young mare will get a well-deserved break. “She is only eight, and it was her first time in there, and she could not have jumped any better,” he praised. “She has jumped here for five weeks, so I am going to leave her at that.”
Coyle has other mounts for the weekend, including Fortis Fortuna, who he rode to victory in the Friends of the Meadows U25 Cup during last week’s Pan American Tournament. He also looks forward to making a second attempt at the derby course on Sunday riding Ridley, who jumped the demanding track for the first time during the National Tournament.
Source: Press release from Spruce Meadows / Photos (c) Spruce Meadows Media Services.
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