IRELAND’s Conor Swail finally claimed one of the major trophies that had eluded the Co Down native, when he lifted the five-star ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows in Canada on Saturday.

Riding the 17-year-old gelding Count Me In, Swail saw off 40 of the world’s best riders to take the coveted top prize of over €225,000. Two tough rounds of jumping saw just four combinations make it through fault free to the third-round jump-off where Swail produced the winning clear in 39.29 seconds.

The only other triple clear came from Canada's Amy Millar who finished as runner-up with Truman in 40.85. American Nicholas Dello Joio and Cornet's Cambridge finished third with one fence down against the clock, while Co Cavan's Neal Fearon had an excellent result when taking fourth spot with Cocktail De Talma.

An elated Swail, declared afterwards: “It feels amazing. The Queen Elizabeth II Cup is one of the most prestigious Grand Prix in the world. I hit the post one year with a great horse I had, Lansdowne, but its fitting that Count Me In was able to get me the win because he has the been a horse of a lifetime and I'm just so happy for him.

“Honestly, what that horse has done for me is just incredible. The highlight reel for me is basically him in my career. He went through a little bad patch last year where we weren't that comfortable jumping bigger. And then, we've just built him back up nicely. And honestly, he feels as good as ever.”

Aachen podium for Irish eventing team

Irish equestrian athletes continued to enjoy a superb week at the world famous Aachen arena in Germany, with the Irish eventing team of Sam Watson, Ian Cassells, Austin O’Connor and Joseph Murphy, taking third place on the podium in the SAP Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Ireland were in fifth place after Friday’s dressage and show jumping phases and climbed two places to third after a strong performance in the final cross country phase on Saturday to finish on a final score of 138.000. Britain claimed victory on 112.800 ahead of USA in second of the eight teams on 123.700.

Ian Cassells and Millridge Atlantis [ISH] (IRL) finished 11th place in Aachen \ HSI

Speaking in the press conference afterwards, Carlow’s Sam Watson paid tribute to his fellow riders who continue to produce outstanding results despite not having the resources that are available to many other nations.

“It’s good to be here [on the podium]. Two big nations [Britain and USA] with big budgets. If we want something we have to the charity shop sometimes. The point I would make is, our owners that support us and our personal sponsors, and we have Agria on board now as well, and that makes a big difference.

"But for me it’s the attitude {of his fellow riders], Austin O’Connor winning a five star, Lucy Latta at Badminton and the team winning at Millstreet this year – Ireland keeps punching away. When we can get the support to be as professional and have the system around us – we didn’t have our coaches here [in Aachen]. We have our manager [Dag Albert] who keeps us on the straight and narrow but we couldn’t have our dressage coach and our jumping coach because we don’t have the budget for it but we have the attitude so we will always be here,” Watson commented.

Ian Cassells was best of the Irish individually with Millridge Atlantis (ISH) taking 11th place just ahead of Joseph Murphy in 12th with Calmaro. Sam Watson finished in 23rd with Ballyneety Rocketman (ISH), with Austin O’Connor 34th aboard Isazsa.

Source: Irish Horse Board