HSI Press Release 10th September 2018: Irish-owned and bred mare Suma’s Zorro claims $1 Million Rolex Grand Prix
Irish-owned and bred mare Suma’s Zorro claims $1 Million Rolex Grand Prix – The richest prize in world show jumping.
Suma’s Zorro, a little Irish mare with a huge heart, bred in Co Kilkenny by Marily Power and Susan Lanigan O’Keeffe and owned by Antrim’s Joanne Sloan Allen, last night (Sunday) claimed the richest prize in world Show Jumping with Northern Ireland-based Egyptian rider Sameh El Dahan.
The CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, attracted many of the world’s top riders to Spruce Meadows in Canada, watched by over 71,000 fans inside the stadium and many more on live television around the globe.
After three rounds of demanding jumping, 14-year-old Suma’s Zorro and Sameh El Dahan came out on top to collect an incredible top prize of $1 Million.
The top 12 combinations went forward to the second round with Suma’s Zorro among seven horses who jumped clear first time of asking. Ireland’s Conor Swail and Rubens LS La Silla also made it through carrying just a time fault. The second round saw Suma’s Zorro jump another breathtaking clear round – a performance that was only matched by Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) riding Verdi TN to set up a two-way jump-off.
Van der Vleuten went first in the third round decider and set a target of clear in 42.98 seconds. El Dahan and Suma’s Zorro kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, crossing the finish line in 42.21 to take the Million Dollar top prize and to be crowned the new live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
An ecstatic Joanne Sloan Allen said afterwards:
“What a day, what a mare and what a rider – sometimes everything just comes together at the right moment and that’s what dreams are made of. Fourteen years ago a little chestnut filly was born who believed nothing was impossible and luckily three months later fate made her cross my path – another stubborn chestnut mare who believes nothing is impossible and dreams are made. Then seven years from that, a revolution in Egypt made the triad complete – Sam [El Dahan] came into all our lives and our journey to this started.
“My Zorro – you will always be that feisty chestnut foal who could. You jumped a five-bar gate the first day you arrived, just because it was there and you have never stopped surprising us everyday since. You are an example of all that makes the Irish horse great – a mixture of heritage, breeds and blood and a fighting spirit instilled in our horses down the generations. Zorro today you have proved that giants truly do come in all sizes. You may be small in stature but today you proved to the world you are a champion. To everyone who has ever dreamed let this inspire you – work hard, dream big and never give up.”
Maikel van der Vleuten finished as runner up ahead of Beezie Madden (USA) and Coach in third. Conor Swail and Rubens LS La Silla would eventually finish in sixth overall.
Suma’s Zorro is by the stallion Ard VDL Douglas out of the Irish Sport Horse mare Vixens Frolic who is by the thoroughbred stallion Horos.
Marily Power, who together with Susan Lanigan O’Keeffe bred Suma’s Zorro at Suma Stud in Kilkenny said:
“She [Suma’s Zorro] has given us enormous pleasure. We sold her as a foal at a sale we had in 2004. We have a cracking foal for sale at the moment on Irish Horse Gateway that is closely related to Suma’s Zorro. I have always said, no matter how good they are, if they are not produced the right way they will never reach their full potential. Sameh and Zorro are a brilliant combination.
Speaking after his win El Dahan said, “This is one of the biggest achievements of my career. The feeling is indescribable. I need a few days to make sure everything sinks in and believe that it actually happened. Going forward, the four Majors which make up the Rolex Grand Slam will be at the top of my list to compete at.”
HSI CEO Ronan Murphy added,
“Huge congratulations to Joanne Sloan Allen, Sameh El Dahan and to Suma’s Zorro’s breeders Marily Power and Susan Lanigan O’Keeffe on this spectacular win. The Rolex Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows is one of the biggest competitions in the world and it is fantastic to see an Irish-owned and bred mare taking victory. We wish them well at the World Equestrian Games and in the next leg of the Rolex Grand Slam.”
The win comes just two months after Suma’s Zorro and El Dahan received a standing ovation from spectators under the shadows of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, after taking another five-star victory in the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix.
The next leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping continues in December in Geneva and the show jumping world will be focused on El Dahan and his little Irish-bred mare, to see if they can continue their incredible journey.
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