With the final phase of Pan Am upgrades nearly complete, the 2015 show season kicked off with a bang last week with the Classic at Palgrave Phase 1 CSI2* at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park.

Irish rider Conor Swail started the season off in style, dominating the competition with two big Grand Prix wins riding Susan Grange’s nine year old French bred gelding, Simba de la Roque.

Swail took home Friday’s $35,000 Alberta Premium Open Welcome CSI2* by a wide margin in a jump off that saw 10 out of 25 riders make the cut. Swail and Simba de la Rogue followed that up with another win on Sunday in the $50,000 RAM Equestrian Grand Prix CSI2*.

“It’s nice when you know the horse you’re riding is very careful and you’re trying to win the class. You do what you feel the horse is capable of doing. He can run fast and jump, so it’s nice to have a horse like that,” said Swail of his mount’s performance on Friday.

Brazilian course designer Marina Azevedo made things a little harder for the field in Sunday’s Grand Prix, with only Swail and Captain Canada, Ian Millar, making it through to the second round out of a starting field of 17.

“The course builder did a good job, built quite a difficult course. Thankfully there were only two of us into the jump off. At that stage it was a two-horse race,” said Swail. “You can never take Ian (Millar) for granted. I tried to put enough pressure on to make it difficult for him and thankfully today was my day.”

Simba de la Roque is a new addition to Grange’s Lothlorien Farm in Caledon and Swail says he likes what he sees so far.

“He’s had a good week here, he jumped really well. He’s a new horse for Sue (Grange). He’s been very good, he’s a good addition to the team of horses that we have,” he said.

Swail completed the weekend sweep for Grange and Lothlorien with his win on Sunday after Darrin Dlin and Carlotta Singular (also owned by Grange) took top prize in Saturday’s $10,000 Modified Grand Prix.
Swail added to his impressive stats on the weekend by also placing second and third in the Modified Grand Prix on Viva Colombia, owned by Ilan Ferder, and Grange-owned mount Dillinger, respectively.
Last week marked the first show of the season at the fully upgraded Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, which will play host to the equestrian portion of the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games this July.

Venue manager Craig Collins said that with the third and final phase of construction in the finishing stages, the park is ready to go ¬- on time and on budget – for both the 2015 schedule and the fast-approaching Games, which run from July 10-26.

“It’s very exciting. Everything is looking great. People will finally get to see the finished product including the new indoor arena complex and the completed FEI barn,” said Collins. “These upgrades are going to allow us to expand our programing through the summer and even into the winter months.”

Collins added that the new arena will be used as additional stabling during the Games and that the footing will be installed in time for use at Equestrian Management Group’s fall competitions.

The facility upgrades, started in 2012, have seen the addition of three new competition and warm-up rings with world-class show footing, the addition of a new viewing pavilion and seating area, office space and finally the construction of a massive indoor arena structure and barn space.

“This is my third year here and I’ve actually been here to see it develop,” said week-one big winner Swail. “It’s a very impressive place. The footing is excellent and there are some fantastic facilities. It’s great to have it.”

Last week marked the first of five straight weeks of exciting competition at the park leading up to the Pan Am Games.

Swail will look to keep his streak going next week during the Caledon National CSI2*, running from May 19-24 at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park.

In addition to a full week of amateur show jumping and hunter action, the schedule will also feature the $75,000 RAM Equestrian Grand Prix on Saturday, $15,000 Omega Alpha Modified Grand Prix Sunday as well as a 1.45-metre Open Welcome with $35,000 in prize money up for grabs on Thursday.

$35,000 Alberta Premium Open Welcome CSI2* (May15):
Place / Horse / Owner / Rider (Hometown)
1 – Simba de la Roque / Susan Grange / Conor Swail (Ireland)
2 – Heros / AMMO Investments / Amy Millar (Perth, ON)
3 – Nirvana de Terlong / Vanessa Mannix (Calgary, AB)
4 – Coup De Chance / B Gingras Equestrian Ltd / Elizabeth Gingras (Edmonton, AB)
5 – Balintore / Kingsfield Farm / Susan Horn (King City, ON)
6 – Bobby / Christian Sorensen (Caledon, ON)

$10,000 Modified Grand Prix (May 16):
Place / Horse / Owner / Rider (Hometown)
1 – Carlotta Singular / Susan Grange / Darrin Dlin (Calgary, AB)
2 – Viva Colombia / Ilan Ferder / Conor Swail (Ireland)
3 – Dillinger / Susan & Ariel Grange / Conor Swail (Ireland)
4 – Cescha M / Ecuries de la Chaudiere / Isabelle Lapierre (Levis, QC)
5 – Carlo / Amatoville Enterprises Inc. / Mac Cone (King City, ON)
6 – Eh All or None / Windemere Stables / Jaclyn Duff (Edmonton, AB)

$50,000 RAM Equestrian Grand Prix CSI2* (May 17):
Place / Horse / Owner / Rider (Hometown)
1 – Simba de la Roque / Susan Grange / Conor Swail (Ireland)
2 – Baranus / Baranus Group / Ian Millar (Perth, ON)
3 – For Freedom Z / Angelstone Partners / Keean White (Rockwood, ON)
4 – Zellobee / Mawson Sport Horses & Sorensen / Christian Sorensen (Caledon, ON)
5 – Her Courchevel / Kinsfield Farm / Susan Horn (King City, ON)
6 – Aanwinst / Jem Stables Inc. / Jordan Macpherson (Toronto, ON)