Traverse City, Michigan, USA – August 03, 2023 – A familiar face took top honors in the $39,000 Speed Classic CSI 2* earlier Thursday, as Conor Swail (IRL) sped to the win with Count Me In. It wasn’t a small field, with 78 entries coming forth to test the single-round speed track, but Swail, coming late enough in the order, knew exactly what to do.
“I had a good ride on my other horse Gamble and we were close enough to the time, but I saw Cathleen [Driscoll’s] round and she had a really good, fast round,” Swail said of second-place finisher Cathleen Driscoll (USA) aboard Magnolia, owned by Plain Bay Farm. “Everyone was struggling to catch her.”
Swail had no struggles of his own, shaving precisely one second off the leading time. “I knew my plan and all my numbers,” the world top-10 ranked Irishman continued. “Crosby is a very fast horse and I must say, the second half of the course we were lightning fast. We flew around and did all the numbers I was looking for. I felt it was good enough to be close and it obviously is nice we were able to win today. He’s an amazing horse for me and this was a nice run around for him. It was a good day for both of us.”
With Cathleen Driscoll (USA) and Magnolia in second, the yellow ribbon went to Natalie Dean (USA) and Oasis Van De Bucxtale, owned by Marigold Sport Horses.
Though “Crosby’s” record shouldn’t suggest the 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding should be in his comfort zone at the CSI2* level – he was Swail’s mount for the 2022 FEI World Cup Finals and was the winning ride for the Aga Khan Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show – he’s fallen slightly out of form and Swail is working creatively to bring him back up.
“He’s lost a bit of confidence, so I’m doing these smaller classes to try to make it more fun for him,” Swail said. “We went to Spruce [Meadows] and won three or four classes there at 1.45m-1.50m level. I’m trying to let him enjoy himself a wee bit and hopefully we can build him back up to his achievements from last year. The horse doesn’t owe me anything. He’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden. Whatever he wants to give me I’m happy with.”
Swail took podium finishes in 2022 at the Flintfields Horse Park, making his return a happy one, made even better with Thursday’s win. “I think this is my third time [here] and I have really enjoyed it,” Swail remarked of Traverse City. “It’s been a good show for me. The footing is great, and obviously the weather is good. It’s about the conditions; the footing is excellent and it’s a great arena to ride in. They have quality jumps and good course builders so I’m happy to be here again.”
CSI2* action resumes Saturday with the $76,000 Cabana Coast CSI2* Grand Prix.
Final Results – $39,000 Speed Classic CSI 2* – 1.45m
1) Conor Swail (IRL) & Count Me In – 0 – 61.40
2) Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & Magnolia – 0 – 62.42
3) Nayel Nassar (EGY) & El Conde – 0 – 63.61
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography / Megan Giese Photography