CSI 3*

Conor Swail Sails to a One-Two in $37,000 Marshall & Sterling Classic CSI 3* at Thermal

Thermal, California – February 04, 2022 – Earlier in the day, international athletes piloted their three-star mounts in the $37,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.50m Classic CSI 3*. Alan Wade (IRL) set the track for the speed-format class, which included three double-combinations and 12 total obstacles across the expanse of the Grand Prix Arena. Thirty-four entries gave their best shot at the fastest clear-round time, but ultimately it was Ireland’s Conor Swail (IRL) who rose to the occasion riding Team Philipaerts’ Theo 160 to claim first place honors after crossing the timers in 60.93 seconds. Swail also managed to nab second place aboard his second mount in the class, his own Vital Chance de la Roque. Fellow Irishman Nicky Galligan (IRL) rounded out the top three aboard his own Javas Miss Jordan. 

Competition during Desert Circuit III in the Grand Prix Arena will continue Saturday, February 5, with the highlight class, the $25,000 FarmVet Grand Prix, concluding the day under the lights. International competitors will contest the $37,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.45m Classic CSI3* Saturday afternoon. 

From the Winnner’s Circle

Conor Swail – $37,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.50m Classic CSI3* winner

On the round:

“I had an early draw again this week. I had Theo [160]  first. I started off with a decent rhythm, good turn to fence two, nice four [strides]. Then it was a nice wide nine strides to the double, which was an easy six strides. I got over in nine strides to the oxer across the middle, which is the number I wanted. I got a good turn to the liverpool. After watching a few when I had finished, the double [at fence eight] caused a lot of trouble actually at the ‘A’ element. I got in and the horse was very good to me there. We jumped fence eight ‘B’ great. The seven strides got a little iffy; he sucked away off the back rail of that. I finished off of that, leaving off the turn in the vertical. I was very happy with the round. If I had to do it again another ten times, I don’t know how well me or [Theo 160] would have done it to be honest. I was very pleased. I just felt everything come up the way I wanted it to. It was one of those rounds that everything worked well. It doesn’t happen that often, but today it did, which was nice.”

On Theo 160:

“He is still quite inexperienced. He’s one of those guys that puts in a good shift every time he goes in. He tries to do his best. We get a lot of good results together. I honestly think he’s going to get better as well. As much as we are consistent, I think that we get smoother and easier as time goes on. He’s a very good guy. He’s very relaxed and calm. He gets a little edgy in the warm-up. He’s a little afraid of horses coming from his left side. He’s a very nice, placid horse there.” 

On his ‘less bit, less spurs’ theory:

“It works with what I have at the moment. Theo [160] is very sensitive to my leg and – he’s already running – but too much pressure makes him run faster. Less is better with him; that’s why that works. [Vital Chance de la Roque] is very sharp and also runs so, again, there’s no need to be kicking him any harder because he already runs by himself. That’s an easy enough explanation for those guys.”

On his use of a hackamore:

“[Vital Chance de la Roque] kind of hides a bit and dodges at the end. Whenever I try to balance him a little when I have a bridle, I feel it takes too much energy and scope away. Whereas when I have the hackamore, there’s a little more pressure on the nose. He’s able to jump through the hackamore better. I feel he still has enough power and scope to jump everything that we want to. I think that’s my theory for now.”


“I’m getting fairly familiar here with this park. It is making great improvements all the time. Even from December, I can see some nice changes. It’s a lovely environment to work in, also for my horses. I’m delighted to be able to come here and partake.”

Final Results – $37,000 Marshall & Sterling Classic CSI 3*

1) Conor Swail (IRL) & Theo 160 – 0 / 60.93

2) Conor Swail (IRL) & Vital Chance de la Roque – 0 / 61.33

3) Nicky Galligan (IRL) & Javas Miss Jordan – 0 / 63.82 

Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas / Phelps Media Group for Desert International Horse Park

Photo: © Phelps Sports / Tori Bilas