The $125,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Scotiabank was held during the Spruce Meadows 'Continental' Tournament CSIO 5*, and seven teams from four countries competed for top honors. Team Ireland rode to victory with team members Shane Sweetnam/Eregast vant Kiezelhof, Richie Moloney/Slieveanorra, Darragh Kenny/Sans Souci Z, and Conor Swail/Lansdowne.
The 'Continental' CSIO 5* Tournament continues through the weekend with the $85,000 Talisman Energy Cup 1.50m on Saturday, June 14, and the $210,000 CP Grand Prix on Sunday, June 15.
The $125,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Scotiabank was the final regional qualifier for North and Central America in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Series. While Ireland won the competition, it was Canada and the United States who qualified from the region for the final this October in Barcelona.
Ireland took the second win in a row at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ at Spruce Meadows. Led by Chef d'Equipe Robert Splaine, the four riders put in solid performances in both rounds. Splaine remarked, "It's an achievement. To win here is a fantastic honor. My job is easy; I had four guys who did their best in the ring. It's a credit to them that they made a very difficult job look easy. A particular thanks to Scotiabank and to Spruce Meadows for putting on a great show again, (as well as) the owners of all the great horses, and the grooms who play a significant part."
Swail and Moloney were a part of last year's winning team as well, and they spoke to standing on the podium for the second year in a row. "The Americans were pressing us very hard, and we just kept pulling in clear rounds. It was a fantastic achievement for all of us," Swail said. Moloney added, "It's great to have an opportunity to compete in a Nations Cup, especially here at Spruce Meadows since it's such a great facility. It's always great to represent your country."
In the first round, Kenny and Caroline Lloyd's Sans Souci Z were the only totally clear trip for Ireland, despite losing a shoe before the fourth fence. "I was turning to number four, and I felt him slip a little bit. I knew the time allowed was still tight, so I had to be as quick as possible," Kenny recalled. After getting the shoe put back on, they returned in the second round to have just one time fault.
Moloney and Sweetnam both had one time fault in round one and bettered their scores with clears in the second round. "When we walked the course, we definitely thought it was a challenge," Sweetnam said. "(Course designer) Anthony (D'Ambrosio) did a great job. It was plenty big jumps out there. We were neck and neck with the Americans."
After the first round, Ireland sat in first place with just two faults, while the United States "Stars" team had just four faults. Swail and Lansdowne did not have to return for the second round. The final score for Ireland after two rounds was three faults.
The "Stars" team added four faults in round two to finish on eight faults for second place. They were led by Charlie Jayne and Chill R Z, owned by Alex R. Jayne, who were the only double clear combination on the day with no jumping or time faults.
Jayne and Chill R Z went in fresh to the Nations Cup having not shown at Spruce Meadows this year before today. "He felt fantastic. He walked straight into the ring," Jayne affirmed. "He jumped a great first round and even better the second round. I couldn't be happier with him. I felt confident going early, knowing that he's a solid horse and he'll perform with any conditions."
Jayne said he was "a little surprised" that he was the only double clear of the competition, but noted that time did play a factor in the class. "Riders took more chances than they would," he said. "I rode it more like a speed round (in) the first round."
With the qualifier at Spruce Meadows and this year's new event in Coapexpan, Mexico, there are now three Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ qualifiers for North and Central America. Jayne said, "It's great to have another Nations Cup in North America. It's very important that we have this Nations Cup, and it's great what Furusiyya and the FEI are doing."
Splaine concluded, "This is top sport. I go to all of the Nations Cup shows. It was significantly tougher (here) than last year. They haven't missed a beat at Spruce Meadows."
Source: Press release from Spruce Meadows Media Services.
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