The 2015 ‘Canada One’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows concluded on Sunday, with an electrifying jump-off in the $126,000 Imperial Challenge and a win for Egypt’s Sameh el Dahan riding Suma’s Zorro. The pair topped an eight-horse jump-off, last to go, with a courageous gallop to the final fence. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Chaqui Z finished second; Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and Armstrong van de Kapel placed third.
Concluding the week, course designer Peter Grant (CAN) saw 35 starters in Sunday’s $126,000 Imperial Challenge. He yielded eight clear rounds to continue on to the tiebreaking jump-off where five competitors also cleared the short course without fault.
First to go in the jump-off, Eric Navet (FRA) set the pace with a clear round in 43.84 seconds aboard Signe Ostby’s Jonkheer Z, to eventually finish fourth. Maggie McAlary (USA) followed with a steady clear round in 47.84 seconds riding Double H Farm’s HH Ciske van Overis to place fifth. Olivier Philippaerts upped the pace in 43.68 seconds with Ludo Philippaerts’ Armstrong van de Kapel next. Shane Sweetnam was faster, with a time of 43.62 seconds aboard Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Chaqui Z. Last to go, Sameh el Dahan and Suma’s Zorro set the final mark in the winning time of 42.39 seconds.
Owned in partnership by Joanne Sloan-Allen and Sameh el Dahan, Suma’s Zorro is an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare sired by VDL Douglas. A small chestnut with a big heart, Suma’s Zorro carried her rider to one of the biggest wins of his career on Sunday. This was El Dahan’s first 4* grand prix victory.
“I have won a couple of 2* grand prix, but this is definitely one of the biggest wins of my career, especially at a place like Spruce Meadows,” El Dahan stated. “I think everybody as a kid watched Spruce Meadows on TV and wondered if they would ever get a chance to jump here and I have been lucky enough to do it two years in a row. I was here last year and I had a very good season. I did not have any grand prix wins, but I was always in the prize giving. This year, I think I was lucky to be in this position and win one of the biggest grand prixs in my career.”
“I did not see anybody go,” El Dahan said of the jump-off. “I just had Joanne at the ring watching for me. She came to me just before I went and said I had to get the nine strides from the combination to the water tray oxer. It worked out really well for me because I was a little slow from jumps one to two because the mare was slipping a little bit. I got the nine strides up there and then Joanne said I had to go as fast as I could down to the last fence. She said, ‘Be brave, your mare is careful and she is going to go over it.’ That is what I did and I think it paid off today.”
El Dahan has ridden Suma’s Zorro for four years and knew she would give it her all to clear the final obstacle.
“I know her really well and I know I can trust her,” he stated. “I have been riding her since she was seven years old and she is such a fighter in every way. Whatever I ask from her, she never lets me down. She has a great heart.”
Shane Sweetnam was a very close second with his mount, Chaqui Z, but was happy with his round on a young horse and also happy to see Dahan get his win.
“I thought the course builder did a great job,” Sweetnam said of the competition. “I thought the course was quite big when I walked it, but the time was nice today. Eight is a good number to have clear and I thought it was an exciting jump-off. Obviously I was on the wrong side of a second, but I have a young horse and I was very happy with him. Sameh is a great guy and it was a great win for him.”
Final Results: $126,000 Imperial Challenge 1.55m
1. $41,580 SUMAS ZORRO Irish Sport Horse / M / 11 Vdl Douglas x Unknown
SAMEH EL DAHAN (EGY) BALLYCLARE Joanne Sloan-Allen & Sameh El Dahan: 0/0/42.39
2. $25,200 CHAQUI Z Zangersheide / S / 9 Chacco Blue x Quilana Z
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL) WELLINGTON, FL Spy Coast Farm: 0/0/43.62
3. $18,900 ARMSTRONG VAN DE KAPEL Warmblood / S / 10 Quasimodo Z x Farn
OLIVIER PHILIPPAERTS (BEL) MEEUWEN-GRUITRODE Ludo Philippaerts: 0/0/43.68
4. $12,600 JONKHEER Z Zangersheide / S / 13 Jetset D x Skippy II
ERIC NAVET (FRA) ENCINITAS, CA Signe Ostby: 0/0/43.84
5. $7,560 HH CISKE VAN OVERIS Belgian Warmblood / M / 13 Celano x Darco
MAGGIE MCALARY (USA) AMHERST, NH Double H Farm: 0/0/47.84
6. $5,670 SIMON Dutch Warmblood / G / 16 Mr Blue x Polydox
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA) CAZENOVIA, NY Abigail Wexner: 0/4/43.93
7. $3,780 ASD FARFALA / G / 12 Unknown x Unknown
JOSE MANUEL IBANEZ (CHI) NUNOA Americo Simonetti: 0/4/44.61
8. $3,150 ZILVERSPRINGS Dutch Warmblood / G / 11 Unknown x Unknown
ELIZABETH GINGRAS (CAN) EDMONTON, AB B Gingras Equestrian Ltd: 0/4/45.03
9. $2,520 SOUTHWIND VDL Dutch Warmblood / G / 16 Baloubet de Rouet x Ahorn
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN) SCHOMBERG, ON Tiffany Foster & Artisan Farms LLC: 4/86.36
10. $2,520 BISQUET BALOU Warmblood / S / 10 Balou du Rouet x Polydor
NICOLA PHILIPPAERTS (BEL) GRUITRODE Frans Lens: 4/86.51
11. $1,260 SRI ALADDIN Dutch Warmblood / G / 10 Quasimodo z x Burggraaf
MEAGAN NUSZ (USA) HOUSTON, TX Amalya Investments: 4/86.82
12. $1,260 CAT BALOU Warmblood / G / 8 Cassini II x Lacantus
MOLLY ASHE (USA) WELLINGTON, FL Louisburg Farm: 4/87.34
Source: Spruce Meadows Media Service