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Conor Swail just keeps winning at Desert Circuit 4

Monday, 05 February 2024
CSI4*/CSI2* Desert International Horse Park 2024

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Conor Swail and Vital Chance de La Roque. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.


Press release from Desert International Horse Park



As if anyone hadn’t heard Conor Swail’s (IRL) name enough yet during the first portion of Desert Circuit, he cranked out another win on Sunday of Desert Circuit 4, presented by Whittier Trust, in the $32,000 San Marcos Training CSI4* 1.50m Classic. This time the win came aboard Vital Chance de La Roque, a horse that has jumped with Swail all over the world, and a horse that feels very at home on the grass field at DIHP.

“It’s been a great week and that was a great result for ‘Vinny’ there,” Swail remarked of Vital Chance’s win. “This is his second week out. We just did a few National classes last week and he felt really good. Earlier in the week he jumped the 1.50m and was a little unlucky; he had one down with a fast time. I’m very happy that he jumped a couple good rounds today. I must say all my horses are in good form at the moment and I’m basically reaping the benefits of that.”

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Conor Swail and Vital Chance de La Roque in their winning presentation, pictured with Swail’s dog, Ralph. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.

Among a strong field of CSI4* horses and even higher-caliber riders, Swail was one of four clear rounds over Alan Wade’s (IRL) initial track. For the jump-off, he had the benefit of going last, and he knew Oliver Lazarus (RSA) and Miss Paris were fast, but had one down, and leader Nicole Haunert (USA) and My Lady Lavista were fault free but with a beatable time. Swail came in with some time to spare with Vinny, taking another FEI win for himself. Haunert ended up second and Lazarus claimed third.

Vinny hasn’t always been the easiest ride, as is apparent after he finishes a round and gives Swail a good buck. But Swail knows the horse really well after several years together, and he’s been building him back up after a less-than-ideal run this time last year.

“He’s a difficult little guy,” Swail said of the 15-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Rivage du Poncel). “He’s quite hot and he loves running and that’s how he jumps. He lost a little confidence there over last year, so I found it difficult enough to get him back up to this level again. He’s starting to feel good again.”

Swail is basing in the desert for the entire winter, and he loves the opportunity it gives him to provide a confidence boost to his horses. “This place is a great place to do that,” he said of creating a confident atmosphere for top show jumpers. “You have a beautiful sand ring, and you’re in the main ring whether you’re jumping 1.30m, 1.35m, or 1.40m. You have great warm-ups; you have a great big ring to get the horses to relax in.”

Beyond the sand jumping, Swail, who has jumped in Aachen, Dublin, and Spruce Meadows, all of which have some of the most famous grass surfaces in the world, particularly likes the grass in the desert. “He actually loves the grass as well,” Swail said of Vinny’s grass performance. “This field is one of the nicest fields in the world to be honest. He’s feeling confident and you can see that with the results. Now we’re trying to continue his good form.”

FEI action returns at the CSI3* level for Desert Circuit 6, after a week of National jumping for Desert Circuit 5.


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