DEFENDING champion, Co. Down’s Conor Swail and ‘Rubens La Silla’ scored a runner-up finish in last Sunday night’s Longines FEI World Cup at Vancouver in Canada – a competition that yielded just one clear round.
American rider Uma O’Neill jumped the only clear round aboard ‘Clockwise of Greenhill Z’ to win the class without a jump-off, with Swail producing the fastest four-fault round (74.26 seconds), knocking only a careful plank vertical that fell often throughout the afternoon. Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (MEX) and ‘Tino la Chapelle’ finished third. O’Neill’s win was her first in a World Cup qualifier.
Irish course designer Alan Wade challenged the riders with numerous technical nuances on course and said he never designs with a number of clear rounds in mind.
“There were a lot of little tests out there,” he said. “[The course] was solved very early on – second horse in – so we knew it was solvable. There were a lot of riders with four faults that, I believe, felt that if they had a second chance, they would have gone clear. But that’s one of the great things about show jumping: You get one chance, and you have to take it. We got a lot of excitement and anxiety from people knocking poles late [in the class]. It doesn’t all have to be about speed [in a jump-off]. It is show jumping after all. I think it was good sport.”
The competition at Vancouver was the first of the 2018-2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League, which will send seven east coast U.S. riders, three west coast U.S. riders, two Canadian riders, two Mexican riders and defending World Cup Champion Beezie Madden (USA) to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg (SWE) in April 2019. O’Neill (23), now leads the standings of the west coast sub league with 20 points.
Swail declared for the east coast sub league, so he takes over those standings with 17 points. Salgado, meanwhile, will move into the runner-up slot in the west coast with 15 points.
The North American League continues with the first leg of the east coast sub league, the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ New York, on September 30.