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Super Swail powers his way to top of the pile at RDS

By Ruth Loney

Conor Swail was the star of the show, taking the Longines Leading International Rider and Leading Irish Rider accolades at the RDS.

American Kent Farrington's flight to Europe with his superb team of horses paid off when he collected the Irish Trophy and €66,000 in the Longines Grand Prix of Ireland from 40 starters at the Dublin Horse Show.

Alan Wade's testing track saw faulters and retirements early in the first round but as the 16th horse, with Ulsterman Swail on board, Grand Cru delivered that elusive first clear round, seven further clears were achieved as riders had time to clue up on the more difficult fences.

Swail, from Saintfield, made up for being dropped from Friday's Aga Khan squad by finishing third to give him those leading international and leading Irish rider awards.

He received a new Longines watch from the official timekeepers, including a €30,000 cheque for his eventual third place in the Grand Prix, with Kevin Babington pocketing €40,000 for second.

US rider Lucy Davis on Barron went clear with Ireland's Babington and the brilliant bay mare Shorapor making it through to the jump off.

Spain's Lorenzo De Luca partnered Geisha to join the second round as did Farrington on Uceko, Bertram Allen with Romanov and Spain's Sergio Alvarez Moya and the grey Carlo 273.

Despite a valiant attempt by Swail to win, his time of 46.35 was bettered by Babington showing a clean pair of heels in 45.75.

A delighted Swail said: "I've had an amazing show, my horses only hit two fences all week.

"Grand Cru was loaned to me by my student rider Vanessa Mannix since Lansdowne and Martha Louise are laid off."

Templepatrick-based Sameh El Dahan, who rides for Joanne Sloan Allen's showjumping team, rocked the arena on Saturday evening when he cleared 7ft 3in on a borrowed horse from Carrick man Britt Megahey to take the Land Rover Puissance in a nail-biting finish.

The €30,000 epic had 16 starters, which saw Cairo-born El Dahan with the Ulster-owned Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier make it through to the third round after clearing 7ft 1in, as did Venezuelan Andres Rodrigues on Cabillito.

The Megaheys, Jennifer Russell, and the McCann family of Seapatrick were delighted.

"It felt unbelievable," said El Dahan. "The cheering of the crowd was amazing, and the horse was something special. Thank you to everyone for supporting us and to Britt Megahey for lending me such a horse."

Banbridge girls Emma McEntee and Charlotte Houston were first and third respectively in the Children on Horses Championship.

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