RONAN McGuigan won the opening speed class in Florida last night (Wednesday), making it the third week in a row that Ireland has claimed this prize at Wellington’s Winter Equestrian Festival.
Second place also went to Ireland, with Co. Down’s Conor Swail and Ariana just an eighth of a second behind McGuigan and his Baloubet de Rouet gelding Capall Zidane.
Tyrone-born McGuigan and Capall Zidane had a great 2014 season, including wins in the USA during November and December. After a little time off, Capall Zidane was back in action in week two of WEF and jumped to his first win of 2015 in week three’s 1.45m jump-off class. The 11-year-old gelding had last week off and came back fresh and ready to kick off week five with a win.
“He felt good today. He was very fresh, and he was going forward,” McGuigan noted. “The course ideally did not suit me. There were a lot of turn backs and stuff. He prefers more of a gallop, but I’ll take it. Usually I give him quite a bit of room on the turn backs, but he is very fast over the ground, so once I get over the jump I am able to get away fast.”
The win feels greater for McGuigan after winning over his friend and trainer, Conor Swail.
“I got to beat my trainer, which is even better,” McGuigan smiled. “He helps me a lot. We are best buddies, but that made the win even sweeter. I’ll have lots of bragging rights now!”
Conor Swail and Simba de la Roque won Week Three’s opening Speed class at the Florida venue, while Offaly’s Darragh Kenny claimed the top two spots in the same competition on Week Four, with Picolo in first place and the Irish Sport Horse Gatsby as runner-up.