Langley, British Columbia, CAN – August 20, 2021 – It’s hardly a surprise when Conor Swail (IRL) rides to another convincing victory at Thunderbird Show Park, this time in the CSI3* $37,000 Steel-Craft Doors Cup.
What made Friday’s win a nail-biter was the manner in which he did it. Cantering down the last line as the penultimate combination, Swail (IRL) and Theo 160 met the seventh and final stride far from the oxer in front of them. Swail admits, at that moment he was questioning his decision to do the leave-out on his quick but smaller-strided mount. But Theo 160 bounded easily over the fence and galloped through the timers, securing the pair’s second international win of the week at the Summer Fort Classic after topping Wednesday’s CSI3* $37,000 George & Dianne Tidball Legacy 1.45m.
“I have to say, when I got three steps down [the line], I thought, ‘[Going for seven strides] was a bad idea,'” Swail said. “He showed a bit of scope there. I was far [from the fence], but he jumped it, and he sailed over it no problem.”
Swail (IRL) and his 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding bested a nine-horse jump-off Friday afternoon in the Fort Grand Prix Arena, crossing the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) shortened track in 39.28 seconds. Darrin Dlin (CAN) and Buddy Bounce finished second (40.75 seconds), and Swail bookended the podium with his second mount, Gamble (41.47).
It was a thrilling jump-off, with two of tbird’s winningest riders, Swail and Tiffany Foster (CAN), going head-to-head for top honors. Foster and Artisan Farms’ Vienna were last to jump, and while the pair beat Swail’s time (38.72), a rail in the final combination relegated them to sixth.
“I knew Tiffany was behind me, and I had to put a bit more pressure on her,” Swail said.
Swail (IRL) got valuable intel from Gamble’s jump-off, and after Dlin took over Swail’s early lead, he was determined to reclaim it.
“Across the middle was where I lost it [with Gamble],” Swail explained. “Of course, you come out of the ring and you analyze. [Theo 160] has a different step, but I was thinking that if I did the same numbers and got a little bit better across the middle, I’d already be a second and a half faster [than I was on Gamble].”
Still, the victory involved a notable test for his still-new mount, whom he only began riding midway through the winter season. As Theo 160 has advanced to the international level, Swail has not put his focus on speed. The gelding stepped up in a noticeable way to win a competitive jump-off.
“His experience level is very limited,” Swail said. “I haven’t really gone too fast on him yet, as he’s just getting used to jumping that height. But we were second-last to go, and I was not leading. The way he was jumping, you’ve got to give it a go. It was one of those [rounds] where I thought, ‘I’m not leaving this behind if I can help it.'”
Competition at the Summer Fort Classic continues Saturday with the $5,000 MarBill Hill U25 League 1.40m and the $15,000 CSI3* Kubota Canada Winning Round 1.45m. The week will culminate Sunday, August 22 with the $100,000 CSI3* ATCO Cup 1.50m and the $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 League 1.40m Grand Prix.
Final Results – $37,000 Steel-Craft Doors Cup CSI 3*
1) Conor Swail (IRL) & Theo 160 – 0 / 0 – 39.28
2) Darrin Dlin (CAN) & Buddy Bounce – 0 / 0 – 40.75
3) Conor Swail (IRL) & Gamble – 0 / 0 – 41.47
4) Jaclyn Duff (CAN) & Camila M 4 – 0 / 0 – 41.61
5) Samantha Buirs-Darville (CAN) & Baton Rouge – 0 / 0 – 41.86
6) Tiffany Foster (CAN) & Vienna – 0 / 4 -38.72
7) Christopher Lowe (CAN) & Cunningham 4 – 0 / 4 – 42.42
8) Tiffany Foster (CAN) & Hamilton – 0 / 4 – 42.78
9) Ellicia Edgar (CAN) & Cardino Z – 0 / 12 – 44.72
10) Vanessa Mannix (CAN) & Kitting des Hausseurs – 4 / 72.51
Source: Press Release by Catie Staszak for Thunderbird Show Park
Photos: © Tbird / Quinn Saunders