Swail to the fore as Irish aces celebrate success
Saintfield showjumper Conor Swail won the Tryon Grand Prix in North Carolina during a weekend of success for Irish competitors at home and abroad.
At the Eglinton Indoor Championships in Londonderry, Strabane rider Peter Smyth won the Irish Masters and Autumn Grand Prix series, while Banbridge's Alex Finney was part of the triumphant Irish U16 pony team Nations Cup squad in Europe.
In the US, Swail, on GK Coco Chanel, recorded the only double clear round of the competition to claim the $134,000 (£106,000) three-star Grand Prix.
The horse, owned by Vanessa Mannix, was fastest to win in 40.17 seconds ahead of Brazil's Luis Franciso de Azevedo on Collin with 39.11. Third place went to Rowan Willis of Australia with Diablo VII.
Paul O'Shea, a clear round hero from the Longines Nations Cup final in Barcelona, was fourth with Skara Glen's Chancelloress.
Earlier in the event, Derry ace Daniel Coyle, on CHS Krooze, won the $36,000 (£28,000) Horseware Welcome Stakes from a strong field, having the fastest clear in 33.44.
Coyle, on his first visit to the show, was joined by his brother Jordan, who is now back in action following a serious fall from a horse in July.
Banbridge's Finney, together with Conor McLaughlin, Orla Duffy and Ella Quigley, won the Under-16 Nations Cup at Chevenez in Switzerland, beating the Netherlands and Germany.
Irish pony team manager Gary Marshall of Ballyclare, who also steered the side to European victory two months ago, said: "This was a fantastic result for us. I try to use this as a development show at the end of the year to give some new combinations some experience. All our team jumped brilliantly. It was great to finish on a high after an incredible year for us."
Smyth won the £3,000 Irish Masters Championships at a packed old Spitfire hangar which is now a permanent site for the Eglinton Equestrian Club annual indoor event.
Smyth partnered John Fee's Des Les Debut and earlier won the Autumn 1.35m Grand Prix, sponsored by Francis Derwin, with Templepatrick Welcome Limerick, bred by Dorothea Wilson and owned by Robin Bingham. Young Enniskillen rider Katie Conlon finished third in the Eglinton Grand Prix behind Robert Harrison and Liam O'Meara, who won on Oldtown KC.
In Rabat, Morocco, the Ulster-owned Suma's Zorro, based in Sycamore Stables with Joanne Sloan Allen, has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after stable rider Sameh El Dahan was part of the Egyptian team to win their qualifier.