It was a great first day of the Spruce Meadows ‘National’ tournament presented by ROLEX that saw not only wonderful weather but fantastic sport as well.
With an impressive entry in the Bantrel Cup 1.55m, 42 horse rider combinations were tested on the famed Spruce Meadows International Ring by 2016 Olympic Games Course Designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. The competition with one jump off, saw 12 efforts in the first round with a time allowed of 77 seconds. In the first round, 16 riders of the impressive starting order roster managed to clear the track under the time allowed, qualifying them for what would turn out to be an incredibly exhilarating jump off won by 23 year-old rising star Daniel Coyle who narrowly defeated America star Kent Farrington.
Kent Farrington (USA), currently the world number one ranked rider, set the pace with an impressive ride over the jump off course with a fairly new mount to his top roster of horses, the 11 year-old Selle francais gelding, Sherkan Dumaury. “He is a really special horse, I got him over a year ago and he suffered from a really bad colic – he actually had to have surgery and was out of the sport for basically a year. So I started back with him over the smaller divisions during the circuit in Florida and built him up. I had high hopes for him before and they gave him a 50/50 chance for him to even make it out of the surgery – so for him to come back at the highest level and be able to do what he’s doing is a real testament to his character and I think in the end that could make him very special.”
Sameh El Dahan (EGY) was next to follow Farrington in the jump off with Sumas Zorro, a 13 year-old Irish Sport Horse mare. The pair laid out a round to rival the current world number one but was just shy of the pace set by Sherkan. “I think Zorro felt amazing! The first round was just a piece of cake for her – she rolled down to the jumps like it was nothing and then in the jump off she felt amazing. I tried to be as fast as I could and I felt she was fast enough – I think a maybe lost that little bit of time on the turn back to fence 6 of the jump off, the Bantrel oxer, but other than that she was really spectacular.”
In the end it was Ireland’s Daniel Coyle who would take the win over Farrington and Sherkan in a round that not only impressed crowds with the speed of the 11 year-old Holstein mare, Cita, but also in her agility over the challenging jump off track. “Cita is incredibly careful she jumped the last grand prix in Wellington – she was double clear and she hasn’t knocked a fence since. She’s jumped maybe 10 International classes from 1.45m up and hasn’t knocked a fence. So I know if she knocks one it isn’t intentional so if I can ride her correctly – she usually won’t make a mistake. I knew I had a really good chance.”