Tonight's horse show featured the fun and exciting $33,000 MNP International Top Score Challenge, where each jump is assigned a point value, and riders have to plan their course to amass the maximum number of points within the time allowed.
Once the pair have finished the course, they may opt to take the "Joker" fence, which would either enhance their score by 200 points or diminish it, should they have the rail down.
The format clearly suited Ireland's Conor Swail and his nimble little mare Arista, as the pair flew across an incredible fourteen jumps plus the Joker, accumulating a grand total of 1360 points. Not shabby for an eight-year-old mare at her first international show, in her first class of this nature.
"She's unbelievably careful," boasted Swail, sounding just like a proud father. "It was honestly 'point point point point' and she just kept springing around. This was all new to her tonight and I'm just so happy with how she handled herself."
America's Laura Kraut was perhaps a little more structured with her initial plan, and insisted she stuck to her plan "100%" - other than the unfortunate lowering of the 80 point fence partway through her round.
"That rail was my undoing tonight," said Kraut. "Otherwise we would have won handily. But it was a great class for her as she has been jumping lots of Grand Prixs, and I think she really had a fun time tonight. The fences were small and it was easy for her and she just loved it."
Belgium's Jos Verlooy slipped into third just behind Kraut, with a total score of 1270 points.
Swail's Irish eyes must be smiling by now, as he also claimed top prize in the matinee horse show's $33,000 "Brickenden Trophy" Class for international jumpers, with Ariana.
Source: Press release from Michelle Dunn from The Royal Horse Show.
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