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Conor Swail's lucky day in the Desert

Friday, 23 February 2024
CSI3* Desert International Horse Park 2024

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Conor Swail and Casturano. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.


Press release from Desert International Horse Park


The only thing better than a one-two finish at DIHP is TWO one-two finishes in the same day. That’s precisely what Conor Swail (IRL) did on Thursday of Desert Circuit 7, presented by TALUS.

In the biggest class of the day, the $32,000 Brookway Stables CSI3* 1.50m Speed, Casturano was the winning ride, and his brother Count Me In was close behind by about one-tenth of a second. The next biggest class of the day, the $25,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic, put Swail in first and second as well, aboard Gamble and Vital Chance de la Roque, respectively.

“It was a super day for me today,” Swail reflected on a great day in the office. “I’m very pleased with Gamble and [Vital Chance] so it was off to a good start. Then in the FEI 1.50m, [Count Me In] was himself, and I must say he jumped around beautifully. I was very early to go with him. It could’ve been a little smoother here and there, and I could’ve done a little better job maybe. With Casturano, or ‘Stan’ as I call him, at that stage I knew what I had to do and knew all the numbers, and everything came up very well for me. I thought he was terrific.”

The only other pair on the podium was Oliver Lazarus (RSA) and Miss Paris, a pair that has come close to a win but hasn’t quite gotten the top spot yet.

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Conor Swail and Casturano in their winning presentation, pictured with Archie Cox of Brookway Stables. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.

Casturano, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Castelan 3 x Canturo), has seen tremendous growth in just one year. Twelve months ago, Swail debuted the horse in the lower levels, and now he’s jumping – and even winning – CSI5* action.

“This is where I started riding him actually,” Swail continued. “I started here last year and I started doing the 1.35m and 1.40m classes with him and he’s developed into an absolutely wonderful horse. I got him from Sam Buirs (CAN); she had done a beautiful job on him. She got him up to FEI level and jumped in the three star Grand Prixs and then when I got him I grew from there with him.”

One year ago, Stan was known a bit for the incredible air time he got over already massive jumps, but now he knows how to use his body a bit more aerodynamically to also be fast. “Stan is super careful; he goes a bit too high still but he’s learning to stay down and get across the jumps a little better now,” Swail explained. “He’s really he’s getting a lot of confidence over the bigger fences now too, I feel. and just with that confidence he’s growing in stature as well; the bigger jumps are easier for him to handle. Honestly today he was so smooth. It was obviously a fast round, but it felt very correct and smooth as well, so that’s what really pleased me the most.”

Swail believes without the role of the DIHP facility, the progression of the horse may not have been the same. “I keep saying to the owners here that one of the reasons why he is so good is because he did start here with me and I was able to put in a lot of great development work in this arena,” Swail said of the park and its Grand Prix Arena. “We have beautiful jumps, great footing, the weather is beautiful, and there’s nothing not to like about it. He is really becoming one of my best horses and I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next.”

What’s next is CSI4* and CSI5* action once Desert Circuit ends and the horse heads to Florida. Swail believes another winter season in the desert has adequately prepared the horse for a big season to come, which might even include FEI World Cup Finals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“He’s going to do Saturday night under the lights and then he’s going to head to Wellington and do the four-star and the five-star there,” Swail explained. “That’ll be a big couple of classes for him and I think again because I’m here developing him up to that level, I think I’m going to have a nice run there. He has qualified for World Cup Finals but I think he’s a little inexperienced for that. If he happens to go very well in Wellington might reconsider.”

Swail’s busy calendar includes the CSI4* in Kentucky, followed by a return to the West Coast before a Canadian summer.’


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