CSI 3*

Conor Swail & Vital Chance de La Roque Thrive in $139,000 Cleghorn Golf & Sports Club Grand Prix CSI 3*

Mill Spring, North Carolina, USA – June 11, 2022 – The fifth-ranked rider in the world, Conor Swail (IRL) and Vital Chance de La Roque cleared the jump-off course in 34.05 seconds to take the win in the $139,000 Cleghorn Golf & Sports Club Grand Prix CSI 3* at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) in the highlight Jumper class of the 94th Tryon Spring 6/Tryon Riding & Hunt Club Charity 1 Horse Show.

The course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) tested 25 entries over the first round of competition, with 9 pairs representing eight countries returning for the jump-off course. Swail and the 2009 Selle Français gelding (Diamant De Semilly x Rivage Du Poncel) owned by Mannon Farm, ranked internationally as the #4 Jumping combination in the world, collected their second consecutive FEI win this week after also dominating the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3* on Thursday.

This duo have had many wins at TIEC, including Swail’s Tryon Summer Series sweep that made him one of the winningest riders to compete at the venue in 2021. In tonight’s jump off, the duo followed a blazing fast performance from Balcomb, and knew he had to pull out all the stops with his reliable partner to take the win.

Lauren Balcomb (AUS) & Verdini D’Houtveld Z

Reserve honors were captured by Lauren Balcomb (AUS) and Verdini D’Houtveld Z, her own 2011 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Verdi Tn x Caretino 2), for their 34.44-second performance.

Jacqueline Ruyle (USA) & San Chano

Jacqueline Ruyle (USA) and San Chano, her own 2009 Oldenburg gelding (Sandro Boy x Chacco-Blue), earned the remaining podium spot on a time of 34.46.

“That went very well. I mean, I’m so lucky to have this horse,” Swail said of “Vinny,” who he said “comes out every week like that. Today, he came out and he jumped so well. I got a little bit of luck at the plank, but you know, you need a bit of luck sometimes! In the jump off, Lauren was so fast, and I was able to see that I had to leave nothing out there, and everything came up very well.”

For Swail, the biggest difference from last summer to his wins this week is that he and Vinny know each other much better now, and his mount is truly finding his stride at the international levels. “He answers all the questions I ask him every time, so I’m so thrilled with him. He’s just amazing. I must say, last year here, we were just finding our feet a little bit, and just getting to know each other,” he detailed.

Jess Stanek was awarded the Tryon International Equestrian Center Groom’s Award for her care and dedication to Vital Chance de la Roque, alongside Drew Page, Paddock Master.

“He was still getting a lot of good results last year, but this year it’s very different. It’s much more consistent, and we know each other very well. Tonight I thought he was very comfortable and he jumped very within himself,” Swail reported. “He’s getting more relaxed, which is so good. I’m just thrilled for him and for the rest of the year.”

The winning strategy that has propelled Swail to the top ends of the FEI ranking list is a bit unusual: he keeps horses in multiple locations and travels between them to compete at the venues best suited to his rides. For Vinny, it’s the East Coast, and Tryon Stadium has been a hot spot in particular:

“I keep a few East, and I have some horses West that jump in Thunderbird and Calgary, but Vinny doesn’t have any shoes, and those venues are all grass. I keep him over here. We’ve done two [shows at] Kentucky and Tryon, and now he’s getting a break and he’s going to Ocala, then he’ll have a few weeks off and will maybe come back here for a couple of weeks. It’s great that we came here and he delivered.”

Podium: 2) Lauren Balcomb, (AUS) 1) Conor Swail (IRL), and 3)Jacqueline Ruyle (USA) in their presentation ceremony alongside (L-R): Ringmaster Steve Rector, Tryon Riding & Hunt Club President Angie Millon, TIEC Director of Equestrian Operations Molly Oakman, and Tryon Equestrian Partners President Sharon Decker. Swail was presented the Roger & Jennifer Smith Green River Farm Perpetual Trophy.

Final Results – $139,000 Cleghorn Golf & Sports Club Grand Prix CSI 3*

Place / Rider (COUNTRY), Horse Name, Year Breed gender (Sire x Dam Sire) Owner: Faults/Faults/Time

1) Conor Swail (IRL) & Vital Chance de La Roque, 2009 Selle Français gelding (Diamant De Semilly x Rivage Du Poncel), Mannon Farm: 0/0/34.05

2) Lauren Balcomb (AUS) & Verdini D’Houtveld Z, 2011 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Verdi Tn x Caretino, Lauren Balcomb: 0/0/34.44

3)Jacqueline Ruyle (USA) & San Chano, 2009 Oldenburg gelding (Sandro Boy x Chacco-Blue), Jacqueline Ruyle: 0/0/34.46

Source: Press Release by Sarah Madden for TIEC – Tryon International Equestrian Center

Photos: © TIEC / Natalie Suto