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Connor Swail and Fortis Fortuna finish on top of Wellington Turf Tour Grand Prix

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Connor Swail and Fortis Fortuna. Photo by Kendall Bierer/Phelps Media Group, Inc.Ireland's Connor Swail left little room for competitors to match his pace today during the Ridge at Wellington's 2015 Turf Tour held at Wolfstone Stables. The Irishman showed that he had more than luck as he took the lead early in the day as one of 10 riders to master the track and post a double-clear effort with Fortis Fortuna, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. As only the ninth rider, Swail knew that he had speedy competitors hot on his heels, but he could not compensate speed for accuracy.

"I don't know her [Fortis Fortuna] that well because our other rider mainly rode her last year," Swail explained. "I just started riding her again this year, so we are working on getting to know one another. It was just about being as efficient as I could out there. I am lucky that I have the quality under me because of great owners."

Fortis Fortuna is a 10-year-old mare who had a little bit of time off last year and has been gradually building up since then. Swail took several chances during the shortened track, making tight turns and using her quick speed across the ground to shave the seconds. The pair tripped the timer in 31.920 seconds to take the lead from Canada's Amy Millar, who posted the first double-clear of the day in 34.162 seconds.

"Fortuna had a great round out there today, and this is a great facility to be able to come and train your horses and be competitive in a beautiful grass arena," Swail said. "There are a few more horses that we have resting right now, but we will be rotating them for the competition at the Turf Tour. It is lovely to come here. It is a nice bit of money for this class, and it is very relaxed. I think this is good for the horses to get a change of scenery from the everyday of the Winter Equestrian Festival, it keeps them fresh."

It was 2014 Turf Tour Leading Rider Jeffery Welles who would claim the second place with KM What Ever RV, owned by Nod Hill Farm of Wilton, CT. Welles had a stronghold on the 2014 Turf Tour Circuit, leading the ranks with his two mounts, Bilion and Antaris S. Today he brought out the Dutch Warmblood gelding and mimicked Swail's swift pace and clean course; however, his time of 32.330 seconds would prove only good enough for second place. Sarah Wayda and her own Faroukh would finish in third place in 32.939 seconds.

Beth Underhill and Viggo captured the fourth place in 33.301 seconds, while Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run's Faustino de Tili took the fifth. Millar, the initial leader of the class, would round out the top six.

"I think today's course was challenging, without being over-facing," Millar said. "I have a bit of a young horse, and it is a great experience for him to go to different rings and see different 1.40m courses so that he can get all of the experience I need to bring him on as an international horse. If you have a horse that isn't ready to do a big grand prix at WEF, there isn't a place for them in Wellington. Being in the business, it is nice to be able to jump at a reasonable cost for good prize money. It is a great way to get the experience without breaking the bank."

Not only was the competition fierce for the second day of the Wellington Turf Tour, but the hospitality was unparalleled. The Ridge at Wellington hosted a beautiful spread for breakfast and lunch, allowing riders, owners and trainers to take a moment to relax in the tranquil atmosphere.

The course opened at 8 a.m. and remained open until 4:30 p.m., allowing competitors ample time to come at their convenience to ride and enjoy the ambiance of Wolfstone Stables. The 12-week series continues next week at the prestigious International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Riders have the opportunity to ride over straight from the show grounds, or trailer their horses over while enjoying hospitality and quality competition. Whether it is an hour, the morning, the afternoon or the entire day, The Ridge Turf Tour offers a traditional and laid back environment for exhibitors, trainers and owners.

Meadowbrook Horse Transport will provide transportation to and from the horse show and other locations throughout Wellington for both the Wednesday and Friday events. The transportation is a nominal fee of $50 per horse, and will be calculated into the final show fees. To make a reservation for one of the three pickup times: 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. please call Peter Tufano of Meadowbrook Horse Transport at (954) 415-7217, or call Nona Garson at (908) 500-0996.

For more information about the Ridge at Wellington please go to www.theridgefarm.com. For up-to-date information please follow the Ridge at Wellington on Facebook.

Ridge at Wellington Turf Tour 1.40m Grand Prix

Place Horse Owner Rider

1st Fortis Fotuna Susan & Ariel Grange Connor Swail

2nd K.M. Whatever RV Nod Hill Farm Jeffery Welles

3rd Faroukh Sarah Wayda Sarah Wayda

4th Viggo Beth Underhill Beth Underhill

5th Bull Run's Faustino de Tili Bull Run Jumpers Five Kristen Vanderveen

6th Heros Ammo Investments Amy Millar

7th Upfront Lauren Hough Lauren Hough

8th Air Force One Kama Godek Kama Godek

Source: Press release from The Ridge at Wellington

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