USA’s Kent Farrington and Gazelle were the big winners in Saturday’s Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex, in a fast and competitive seven-horse jump-off at Spruce Meadows. Conor Swail (IRL) and Grafton finished second, and Andrew Ramsay (USA) and California 62 placed third. The CIBC Cup was also featured on Saturday with a historic first international victory at Spruce Meadows for the country of Japan, as Karen Polle and With Wings took top honors. The ‘Pan American’ Tournament CSI 5*, presented by Rolex, concludes on Sunday, July 3, with one more day of world-class competition.
Ireland’s Alan Wade set the course for 34 competitors in Saturday’s highlight Pan American Cup, presented by Rolex. Held in the Meadows on the Green, the competition saw seven entries move on to the jump-off, and five clear over the short course.
Andrew Ramsay was first to jump clear in round two with The California Group’s California 62, setting a fast pace in 37.59 seconds to eventually finish third. Patricio Pasquel (MEX) and Babel followed with a time of 37.77 seconds, which ended in fifth. Philipp Weishaupt (GER) shaved a few more fractions off the time aboard LB Convall, finishing in 37.71 seconds to land in fourth place. Kent Farrington and Gazelle cleared the course next, leaving no stone unturned as they raced through the timers in 35.78 seconds. Last to go, Conor Swail and Susan and Ariel Grange’s Grafton jumped into second place with their time 36.17 seconds.
Gazelle, a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro) owned by Farrington and Robin Parsky, has had a fantastic season that includes multiple wins over the last few months. Farrington bought the mare when she was seven and feels that she is really progressing this year. “I am very grateful that I have a super group of people behind my career, Robin Parsky being one of them,” Farrington noted. “They are really passionate about show jumping and that is what all of us need today in order to compete at this level. I have taken my time bringing this horse up and she has found her way at the higher level. I had her in Florida this winter and she was struggling a little bit in the big grand prixs, so I dropped her down for awhile and then brought her back up, and she seems to be finding her form.”
Speaking of his winning round, Farrington stated, “In the jump-off today, we got great competition. Andrew laid down a very fast track. He had the unenviable spot of going early, so that is certainly not an advantage when you have all of us coming after. I also do not like Conor coming after me; that’s not my favorite spot either, but I thought I put enough of a run down that he was going to really have to try if he could catch me. I was very pleased with my horse.”
Farrington also commented on Alan Wade’s first round track, praising the course designer on a great competition. “I think Alan is one of the best course designers, if not the best course designer, in modern show jumping. I think he really understands horses,” Farrington said. “It is a very fair test and he ends up with the perfect number in the jump-off. That shows that he knows what he is doing, so I think that all of us as riders applaud his work.”
Conor Swail was aboard a young mount in Grafton, a ten-year-old Selle Francais stallion (Calvaro x Vondeen) that he got as a seven-year-old as well. “He is a super horse,” Swail detailed. “Myself and Barry O’Connor sold him to Sue Grange and Lothlorien, who have been great backers for me. He has done some very good things. He jumped on two Nations’ Cup teams for Ireland, both times double clear. He has been a little bit the same (as Gazelle for Kent), up and down a little bit with the grand prixs. Sometimes it takes him a little bit to find his feet, but once he gets to be comfortable at this height, he really excels. He is very scopey and he has a big step. He was a little slower than Kent’s horse unfortunately today, but I was absolutely delighted with how he went.”
Speaking of his jump-off track, Swail explained, “There was not a lot of strategy involved really. I had to go as hard as I could following Kent. Kent got one to two easier than I would have liked, and then he got seven strides around the corner and I got eight, so I was already behind and had to keep chasing. I did one stride less to the last, which I knew I could get that no one else could. Unfortunately that was not enough, but I am delighted. Kent is a great rider with a great horse. Being second to him, I will take that any day. Not all days, but I will take it today. I am very pleased for my owners, and the horse, and myself.”
As Farrington noted, Andrew Ramsay had a tough position going early in the order with very fast riders to follow in the jump-off, but Ramsay was very happy with his finish on California 62. The 12-year-od Holsteiner mare (Cassini I x Galent Vert) also placed third in the ‘Continental’ Tournament’s $375,000 CP Grand Prix. “California is a new mare for us. I got her just before Wellington this winter, so I have just been trying to get to know her,” Ramsay stated. “It took a little bit of time in the beginning, but we are getting on track. We were third two weeks ago as well, which I guess is a good thing, but also a little frustrating. I am starting to figure out how we need to ride the course and set her up. I was really pleased with the jump-off today compared to two weeks ago when I had one down. “I was thrilled with her today and quite happy with the jump-off,” Ramsay continued. “There were some very fast people coming behind me and we tried to do the best we could. We have a bit more learning to figure out, but we are making good headway, and I am thrilled to be here.” Course designer Alan Wade also weighed in on Saturday’s competition and was pleased with his result.
“I have a great team around me. When you come to an event, you have to trust the people around you, and with Peter Grant and Joey Rycroft as my assistants I got a lot of guidance,” Wade remarked. “I was very pleased with the start list. As course designers, we are really only here to facilitate. These are the athletes that bring their horses out for the great sport of show jumping. We are only here to allow them to show their best and I think we had very good sport today.”
The CIBC Cup 1.50m was the first FEI competition held in the Meadows on the Green Saturday afternoon with a historic first international victory at Spruce Meadows for the country of Japan. Rider Karen Polle represented the nation as she guided her own 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding With Wings (Larino x L Ronald) to an exciting first place finish.
Alan Wade (IRL) set the track for 26 starters in the CIBC Caup with six advancing to the jump-off. Polle and With Wings earned the win with the fastest round over the short course in 30.71 seconds. They edged out Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farm’s Cadalora P, who settled for second place with their time of 31.28 seconds. Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt took both the third and fourth place honors, jumping off with Catokia 2 in a time of 32.21 seconds, and Lord Chambertin in 32.43 seconds. Jennifer Gates (USA) and Luftikus S completed the jump-off course without fault in 34.35 seconds to place fifth. Conor Swail (IRL) took home sixth place honors aboard Ilan Ferder’s Hetman of Color J after an unfortunate refusal over the second track left the pair with four jumping and two time faults.
Commenting on her victory, Polle smiled, “I am so excited. To win here where the riders and horses are the best in the world is just so special. Especially to win on Wings, who I have had for a long time, is really fun. I have always dreamed of winning a competition here, so it is really nice.” Polle (23) has owned With Wings for six years and knows the gelding well. In 2015, the pair earned their biggest win together in the $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI4* in New York.
Speaking of her winning mount, Polle stated, “He is just perfect. He has a big stride and he always tries his best. He is very spunky, so he has a lot of power and lots of energy. I like when a horse has energy, and a lot of power and blood, so he is perfect for me.” This summer, Polle tapped the training expertise of ten-time Olympian Ian Millar of Canada. With Millar’s guidance, the young rider was able to use her long time experience with her horse to an advantage in both rounds. “I thought the first round course was very nice. For my horse, I just had to sit still in all of the lines and give him a little bit of room, and he took care of the rest,” Polle explained. “The course was pretty careful, especially towards the end, but for me it rode really well. “In the jump-off, with all of these amazing riders that are always really fast, it is a lot of pressure to have to go for it,” she added. “I was a little nervous that they would catch me in the end, but I am really happy that they didn’t.”
Polle has one semester at Yale University to complete in the fall and then hopes to focus on her riding fulltime. Her more immediate plans are to qualify With Wings for next week’s grand prix to conclude the summer at Spruce Meadows.
The Spruce Meadows ‘Pan American’ Tournament CSI 5*, presented by Rolex, concludes on Sunday with the West Canadian Cup 1.45m and the Friends of the Meadows Cup 1.50m in the Meadows on the Green.
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