World of Showjumping
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Trelawny Trailblaizers pick up where they left off in MLSJ Team Event

Sunday, 26 May 2024
CSI5* MLSJ Vancouver 2024

Photo ©tbird/Kim Gaudry. Photo ©tbird/Kim Gaudry.


Press release from Thunderbird Show Park


The Trelawny Trailblazers ended the 2023 Major League Show Jumping season as the overall champions, dominating the league with 148 points—nearly 30 more than the runners-up, Team Roadrunners.

Entering the 2024 season, their roster appeared largely unchanged, with Daniel Bluman (ISR), Lillie Keenan (USA), Darragh Kenny (IRL), and Conor Swail (IRL) all returning to the lineup.

With the first leg of the new season underway at Thunderbird Show Park, the results haven’t changed much, either. The Trailblazers topped Saturday evening’s MLSJ Team Competition, besting the Northern Lights in the gold medal round.

The Trailblazers’ Charlotte Jacobs (USA) contributed immediately to her new team aboard her longtime partner, Rincoola Milsean (Aldatus Z x Cruising), besting Vanessa Mannix (CAN) and Carmela Z (Candillo x Caretano Z) in the jump-off, 37.49 seconds to 38.03 seconds.

Rupert Carl Winkelmann (GER) secured bronze for Helios aboard Quinn 33 (Quidam de Revel x Contender), out-dueling Matt Sampson (GBR) and Itoulon S (Etoulon VDL x Contendro I).

“I think I felt a little bit of pressure. My horse didn’t have one rail in the team competition last year, first round and jump-off, and he’s very good at this level,” Jacobs said. “Going in today, I just wanted to do what we always do and stay competitive, and when I went in the jump-off, I knew the time was beatable, but I also knew I had to go for it.”

Photo © tbird/Kim Gaudry. Conor Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque for the winning team. Photo © tbird/Kim Gaudry.

Bluman, Swail, and Jacobs made up the Trailblazers squad in Langley, and after the first round, the trio sat second behind MLSJ newcomers, the Archers. With an adjusted format, the second round—formerly a faults converted Table C format—debuted in 2024 as an additional Table A Speed round. Bluman with Corbie V.V. (Cornet Obolensky x Chacco-Blue) and Swail with Vital Chance de la Roque (Diamant de Semilly x Rivage du Poncel) set their squad up for success with two clear efforts, securing their place in the gold medal round and putting them in the advantageous position of jumping last.

“We’re fortunate enough that we have a very strong team again this year,” Swail said. “I like [the new second round format]. Normally, you’ve got to just go as hard as you can go, but the mindset is different now. You can’t just do that; you still have to go and leave the jumps up, or there’s a big chance you won’t get into the top playoff.”

The duo put full trust in their newest teammate, and Jacobs delivered.

“It doesn’t come very often that you have a team where everyone is amazing. It’s cool, because you really, on paper, feel extremely strong,” Bluman said. “We respect each other as individual competitors, and then we are able to ride together. In other circumstances, we would never have the opportunity to ride together.”

It’s no secret that the Trailblazers will continue to hold court as the team to beat throughout the remainder of the season, which goes on a brief hiatus for the Paris Olympic Games before returning in August at Toronto. But with both Swail and Bluman ranking among the World’s top 10 jumping athletes at different points in the last two years, it’s not a foreign feeling—and no one is getting too comfortable at the top.

“We understand that we’re all very good at what we do, and we’re going in [to the MLSJ season] to win again,” Swail said. “We are the strongest on paper, but there are no graces to win because we look the strongest on paper. That means nothing. We’ve got to go in and keep backing up why we are the strongest.”

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