The 'North American' Tournament CSI 5* started today with four major competitions in the International Ring. The winner of the $35,000 Sun Life Financial 'Reach for the Sun' 1.60m was Cameron Hanley (IRL) on Antello. In the $33,000 AON Cup 1.50m, Beezie Madden (USA) and Coral Reef Via Volo were fastest in the jump-off. The $33,000 Suncast Cup 1.45m victory went to Shane Sweetnam (IRL) on Solerina, while Conor Swail (IRL) and Martha Louise were fastest in the $33,000 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m.
The $35,000 Sun Life Financial 'Reach for the Sun' 1.60m competition had 21 entries. Four advanced to the jump-off and it was Cameron Hanley who was fastest for victory with Antello, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding by Animo Z x Continue owned by Eleonore Paschoude and Yves Bouvier.
McLain Ward (USA) and Cadence set the time to beat with a clear round in 44.91 seconds, which would hold up for second place. Daniel Bluman (COL) and Sancha LS La Silla placed third with their time of 44.93 seconds. Lauren Tisbo (USA) placed fourth when she and Roundthorn Madios finished in 45.42 seconds.
Hanley and Antello went last and he opened the big horse's stride up through the long gallops on course. That and a chance at the final oxer gave them victory when they stopped the timers in 42.97 seconds.
"He's naturally a very quick horse, he covers the ground very quickly, and I just let him roll and everything came up quite nice, like the turn back to the second to last (fence). The great thing about him is he's so careful that I can just ride him to that last fence and I don't really have to worry about him knocking it down," he explained. "He's always going to try to jump it. As long as I get a reasonably good distance, he should jump it."
Hanley said that this was probably only the second time that he has pressed for speed in a jump-off with Antello. "The first week here I was clear in the 1.60m and I started to go quick and had a fence down early, so I slowed down. I haven't really galloped him so much. He's not a horse I would really do every class very competitive with," he explained. "But today, last to go, four in the jump-off, I knew they were all really fast riders so I knew I had to go as fast as I could. I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip; I was going to take it if I could."
Today's win was another step in Hanley's comeback from a devastating knee injury and resulting 17 surgeries due to infection and complications. It was a special win for him on this horse that he and his brother purchased as a seven-year-old. When Hanley was injured, Michael Whitaker purchased him and brought him along. When Hanley returned to the sport and got new sponsors, he knew the horse they should buy for the grand prix ring. Since they have been back together, they won the grand prix in Wiesbaden, were double clear to help Ireland win the Nations Cup during the 'Continental' Tournament, and have now won again.
Hanley expressed, "Once I got him and back in the saddle, it just felt so comfortable sitting on him again. He's really special, and we fit each other really well. We suit each other's personalities, I guess. I'm quite easygoing and he's quite lively, so we cancel each other out."
This is Hanley's fourth time competing at Spruce Meadows, and he noted, "It's an amazing show and I'm really delighted to go in and raise the trophy. All wins are special, but now especially I take nothing for granted. Something like today, it means a lot for me."
Final Results: $35,000 Sun Life Financial 'Reach for the Sun' 1.60m
1. ANTELLO: 2003 Warmblood gelding by Animo Z x Continue
CAMERON HANLEY (IRL), Eleonore Paschoude & Yves Bouvier: 0/0/42.97
2. CADENCE: 201 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Cardento x Irco Marco
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Procedures, Inc.: 0/0/44.91
3. SANCHA LS LA SILLA: 2003 Warmblood mare by Chin Chin x Polydor
DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman: 0/0/44.93
4. ROUNDTHORN MADIOS: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Condios x Clover Hill
LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 0/0/45.42
5. AVENSIS 4: 2001 Westphalian gelding by Arpeggio x Apart
ELIZABETH GINGRAS (CAN), B Gingras Equestrian Ltd: 1/83.08
6. POLINSKA DES ISLES: 2003 Selle Francais mare by Diamant de Semilly x Valespoir Malabry
FRANCOIS MATHY (BEL), Team Harmony & Francois Mathy: 4/80.36
7. IV EVER: 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Now or Never x Indoctro
JILL HENSELWOOD (CAN), Brian Gingras: 4/81.14
8. AGAMEMNON: 2001 Swedish Warmblood gelding
ALEC LAWLER (USA), Alec Lawler: 4/81.42
9. SOUTHWIND VDL: 1999 KWPN gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Ahorn
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 5/83.61
10. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 5/84.30
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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