Thermal, California, USA – January 20, 2023 – Conor Swail (IRL) isn’t the one you want to be up against going into speed competition. As the speed master he is, the Irishman took the win aboard Theo 160 in Thursday’s $38,700 Pomponio Ranch Speed CSI 3* 1.50m at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP).
For much of the class, it appeared that Swail might win aboard his first mount, Vital Chance de La Roque. The duo took an early lead, going fourth in the order and capturing a time of 58.68 seconds. While pairs attempted to unseat him, rails came down and the leaderboard remained unchanged.
When Swail came in aboard Theo 160, the horse that took second in this very class during week two and first in the Grand Prix CSI 3*, he knew his chances were good to finish one-two. He overtook his own lead, crossing the timers in 58.01 seconds and capturing the top two spots.
Only Kyle King (USA) was there to switch things up, claiming second-place honors aboard Sig Chiari, owned by Sig International, Inc.
“I was super happy with Theo,” Swail remarked. “I’d had a good round already with [Vital Chance]. At that point, actually, I was still leading. So I thought, ‘How do I play it out with Theo?’ He’s quick enough that I decided just to have another go at it. It was a great round, and I was very pleased.”
Swail has put more and more trust in 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Christian 25 x Calando IV) recently, letting him use his stride and scope to their advantage, omitting strides in risky places. “He is very brave,” Swail reflected. “Even if you’re running a little fast at the jump, he’s always going to try and be careful at it. I trust him. Thankfully he’s pulling out all the stops for me, so it’s great.”
Not to be forgotten, 14-year-old Vital Chance de La Roque put in his best effort as well, with hopes of a strong performance in Sunday’s CSI3* Gillibrand Sand Grand Prix. “I was super happy with ‘Vinny’ today,” Swail continued. “I thought he was so good. He hasn’t jumped there in about a month, so this is his first show back and he felt super good. We’ll have a nice run on Sunday and see what happens.”
The luck of the Irish is quite strong this season in the desert, but it’s been a streak of luck for the past few years with Swail and his top mounts. “I’m lucky enough at the minute; I have a string of small, fast horses,” he said. “They’re so much fun. They run along very quickly, you can turn quickly, and they think quickly. But I’ve had a lot of bigger, slower ones as well. At the moment, I have a great group of very fast, competitive horses that are able to jump at the highest level, so I’m really reaping the benefits at the moment.”
Show jumping continues Saturday with the $50,000 El Cristiano Grand Prix and the $38,700 CSI3* Morning Star Sporthorses 1.45m Classic.
Final Results – $38,700 Pomponio Ranch Speed CSI 3*
1) Conor Swail (IRL) & Theo 160 – 0 – 58.01
2) Kyle King (USA) & SIG Chiari – 0 – 58.64
3) Conor Swail (IRL) & Vital Chance de La Roque – 0 – 58.68
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photos: © DIHP / High Desert Photo