Thermal, California, USA – January 18, 2023 – Irish riders were on fire Wednesday morning of Desert Circuit III, taking all three top spots in the $10,000 Hygain Feeds Welcome Speed to kick off National show jumping action. None other than Irish superstar Conor Swail (IRL) took the win, this time aboard Vanessa Mannix’s Ikonic PB.
“‘Kona’ jumped extremely well,” Swail said of the now 10-year-old mare. “It’s her first round this year actually, so it was a good start. She’s a good mare, very careful, and I’m looking forward to jumping her over the winter.”
Thirty-four entries tested Manuel Esparza’s single-round speed track, making use of the vast Grand Prix Arena. Of those, 16 jumped clear, but it was a race at the top to secure the podium finish. Swail’s ultimate time of 59.263 seconds with Ikonic PB sealed the deal.
Fellow Irishman Nicky Galligan (IRL) finished second with Hermione de L’Hodez, owned by GYL Farm LLC. The duo was just off the winning pace, finishing in 59.351 seconds.
Robert Blanchette (IRL), also of Ireland, claimed third with RTS LLC’s Chardonnay, doing so backed by a penalty-free performance in 60.271 seconds.
Swail, a regular in the desert, plans to utilize the upcoming weeks at DIHP to strengthen this horse’s resume, adding international classes to the slate later this season. “I’m hopefully going to get her into some ranking classes this circuit,” he continued. “That’s part of what’s so great about this place. You can go into the [Grand Prix Arena] which is fantastic and you can really train them well. Hopefully they’ll learn a lot while we’re here.”
The mare is a promising future mount for both Swail and Mannix, winning the Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series in 2022, but she’s not one to be caught watching TV in her free time.
“She doesn’t love the screen here so she can be a little difficult. I thought I should get on her and give her a bit of confidence and teach her that everything is okay when you go in. [They] have to learn to trust the rider and trust the process. That’s why I’m riding her for now, but I must say I’m really enjoying it. She’s a lot of fun and she’s very fast,” Swail concluded.
Ikonic PB’s comfort level with the screen in the Grand Prix Arena is only growing each time she steps in the ring, and her trust in Swail has led her to a 100% win rate for 2023 so far.
Show jumping continues Thursday with the $5,000 La Quinta Resort Two Phase CSI 3* and the $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic.
Final Results – $10,000 Hygain Feeds Welcome Speed 1.35M
1) Conor Swail (IRL) & Ikonic PB – 0 – 59.263
2) Nicky Galligan (IRL) & Hermione de L’Hodez – 0 – 59.351
3) Robert Blanchette (IRL) & Chardonnay / RTS LLC – 0 – 60.271
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photos: © DIHP / High Desert Photo