It was a thrilling finale on the last night of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show as many of the world's top riders competed in the $85,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix De Penn National. You could hear the crowd collectively hold its breath as each horse sped around the course, but it was Irish rider Conor Swail and Game Ready who pulled out all the stops to clinch the win.
Twenty four competitors attempted course designer Alan Wade's big track, set at 1.60 meters with 13 obstacles and a time allowed of 78 seconds. There seemed to be various jumps where riders had issues, but the combinations seemed to be the most influential. Only three riders made it to the jump off round, and it was Swail who set the pace with a clear round in 35.20 seconds.
The Grand Prix de Penn National is one of the few that McLain Ward has never won, and for a moment it seemed as though he may have finally done it. However, his fractionally slower time of 35.48 seconds on Rothchild once again relegated him to second place - for the fifth time.
Last year's winners, Kent Farrington, and Uceko were up on the clock half way around the course but unfortunately had a rail down, dropping them to third place. Farrington was attempting a record fourth win as he and Beezie Madden are tied with three grand prix wins apiece. "That would have been nice", said Farrington. "With these two guys (pointing to Swain and Ward) it's hard to do. Maybe next year".
Swail also won the Leading Jumper Rider Award, while his groom Anne Sophie (Annso) Canut from France, won the Caretaker Award. Brianne Goutal won the Leading Lady Jumper Rider Award.
This is the first time Swail has traveled to Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and he made it a memorable one. In addition to tonight's win he also clinched the $40,000 Pennsylvania 'Big Jump' on Thursday night, and took second in the $33,000 Keystone Classic last night. "I had a wonderful show. To top it off, winning tonight is great", said Swail.
Source: Press release from www.panational.org
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