October 21, 2013--It was a thrilling finale on the last night of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show as many of the world's top riders competed in the $85,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix De Penn National. You could hear the crowd collectively hold its breath as each horse sped around the course, but it was Irish rider Conor Swail and GAME READY who pulled out all the stops to clinch the win.
Twenty four competitors attempted course designer Alan Wade's big track, set at 1.60 meters with 13 obstacles and a time allowed of 78 seconds. There seemed to be various jumps where riders had issues, but the combinations seemed to be the most influential. Only three riders made it to the jump off round, and it was Swail who set the pace with a clear round in 35.20 seconds.
The Grand Prix de Penn National is one of the few that McLain Ward has never won, and for a moment it seemed as though he may have finally done it. However, his fractionally slower time of 35.48 seconds on ROTHCHILD once again relegated him to second place - for the fifth time.
Last year's winners, Kent Farrington, and UCEKO were up on the clock half way around the course but unfortunately had a rail down, dropping them to third place. Farrington was attempting a record fourth win as he and Beezie Madden are tied with three grand prix wins apiece. "That would have been nice", said Farrington. "With these two guys (pointing to Swain and Ward) it's hard to do. Maybe next year".
Swail also won the Leading Jumper Rider Award, while his groom Anne Sophie (Annso) Canut from France, won the Caretaker Award. Brianne Goutal won the Leading Lady Jumper Rider Award.
This is the first time Swail has traveled to Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and he made it a memorable one. In addition to tonight's win he also clinched the $40,000 Pennsylvania 'Big Jump' on Thursday night, and took second in the $33,000 Keystone Classic last night. "I had a wonderful show. To top it off, winning tonight is great", said Swail.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the 2011 National Show Hunter Hall of Fame Horse Show of the Year and the sixth ranked horse show in North America in the 2012 North American Riders Group (NARG) annual rankings, is one of the largest indoor horse shows in the U.S. It hosts horses and competitors from across the country with 10,000 spectators attending from the Mid-Atlantic region.
With over 1,400 qualified horses competing for $450,000 in prize money, the show features Hunter and Jumper competition and is the site of the Pessoa/US National Hunter Seat Medal Final Presented by Randolph College, the Randolph College/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships, North American League (NAL) National Finals and the $85,000 Grand Prix de Penn National.
In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the horse show offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia.
Proceeds from the event benefit community equine and youth programs. Since its inception in 1945, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation has donated over $1.5 million to charitable entities.
For more details on show events, competitors and vendors, please visit the show's website, www.PAnational.org or contact the Pennsylvania National Horse Show at 717-236-1600 or by email, eventinfo@PAnational.org.