Ocala, Florida, USA – February 18, 2023 – Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) has spent quite a bit of time in the desert this season chasing down a win. During Desert Circuit VI, with his longtime partner Hunters Conlypso II, he finally got the victory he’s been eyeing all season long.
The $50,000 Whittier Trust National Grand Prix wasn’t handed to him, either. Over Alan Wade’s (IRL) first-round course, Gallagher was one of only two pairs to jump clear out of 35 starters, with rails falling all throughout the course and presenting quite a challenge to get out scot-free. Robert Blanchette (IRL) and Chardonnay, owned by RTS LLC, were the first to jump clear, followed eventually by Gallagher close to the end of the order.
“You never know walking [Wade’s] courses; you think they’re easy but he always has little tricks here and there,” Gallagher shared regarding the small number of clear rounds. “A couple people had time faults and there were a few cheap rails; this vertical by the in gate caused a few problems. I think a lot of people rushed for the time allowed and that’s why they had rails.”
Returning for the jump-off, Robert Blanchette (IRL) had two rails down, meaning Gallagher just had to go for the double-clear, knowing he had a rail in hand. He jumped home penalty free, securing the win.
Blanchette took second while Conor Swail (IRL) ended up third with one time fault aboard Casturano, making for an all-Irish podium.
“With only two in the jump-off, luckily I was second of the two,” Gallagher explained of his tactic for the short course, a familiar position for him in this very Grand Prix Arena. “That happened last year; there were only two and I went first and I was beaten. Unfortunately for Robert, he had two down and that made my job pretty easy. I just rode it again like it was a first round and I didn’t have to take any risks.”
The partnership proved successful Saturday under the lights, but it’s not the duo’s first rodeo. “I’ve had him for six years now,” Gallagher said of Hunters Conlypso II. “He’s had his little injuries here and there but it’s great to have him back at this level; he’s super consistent. Every grand prix here Saturday night he’s placed. Every day I get to compete him here I feel very lucky.”
With his name in the hat for the $100,000 National Grand Prix Rider Bonus, Gallagher is rethinking his winter plan. “It’s great here at Desert Horse Park to have these Saturday night classes,” he remarked. “It’s good prize money. I’m meant to leave on Monday but now with the bonus I might have to look at the schedule.”
At 15 this year, the Hanoverian gelding (Contendro x Calypso II) still shows every bit of his personality. “He’s hilarious; We joke in the barn that he’s more like a dog than a horse,” Gallagher said. “He’s a little spoiled; he gets to do what he wants. Between classes he doesn’t work too strenuously anymore. Naturally he’s a very fit horse. I try to take it easy with him day to day. But he’s an absolute character. In the prizegiving I’m getting run away with after jumping two rounds; he’s ready to go again for a third.”
It seemed like an Irish takeover of DIHP, with an all-Irish podium and an Irish course designer. While still a competitive sport, Gallagher and Swail are the first to support one another in and outside of the ring.
“We travel to the same shows week in and week out, especially myself and Conor,” Gallagher remarked. “We’re all close friends so it’s great to all be up there as friends. Conor is obviously one of the best. I aspire to be in his shoes one day. When he wins, I’d be the first to congratulate him and in the [warm-up] he was one of the first to congratulate me. It’s more intense on the golf course than it is here in the ring.”
Final Results – $50,000 Whittier Trust National Grand Prix
1) Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Hunters Conlypso II / Lorcan Gallagher / 0/0/46.331
2) Robert Blanchette (IRL) & Chardonnay / RTS Holdings LLC / 0/8/39.068
3) Conor Swail (IRL) & Casturano / Conor Swail / 1/80.83
4) Karianne Boyce-Lockhart (USA) & CMS Garadice Shore / Karianne Boyce-Lockhart / 2/81.7
5) Elisa Broz (USA) & Tinkerbell / Elisa Broz / 4/74.699
6) Shawn Casady (USA) & Castelissimo / Tiffany Sullivan / 4/76.638
7) Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Feyon / SWS Training & Sales / 4/76.879
8) Kyle King (USA) & Odysseus / Patricia Vasey / 4/76.273
9) Simonne Berg (USA) & Cooper / Berg Equestrian Enterprises LLC / 4/77.864
10) Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Palina De L’Escaut / / SWS Training & Sales / 4/78.113
11) Kyle King (USA) & Cerolino / Strasburg Morin Inc. / 4/78.883
12) Savannah Jenkins (USA) & Comrado / / Proper 12, LLC / 4/79.6
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photos: © DIHP / HD – High Desert Photo / MG / ON
Categories: CSN, English, Jumper News Ireland