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Inside the CSIO Spruce Meadows 'Masters' Tournament: Swail continues winning streak

Friday, 09 September 2022
CSIO5* Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2022

Conor Swail wins the CANA Cup

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof Conor Swail and Count Me In, winners of the CANA Cup. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.


Press release from Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping



Staged in the iconic International Ring on a sunny but chilly Calgarian day, 37 combinations from 17 nations – each with their sights firmly set on qualifying for Sunday’s CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex – contested the 1.60m CANA Cup on day one of the 2022 edition of the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’. Stand-out riders included current world number one-ranked rider, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping champion, Scott Brash from Great Britain, American McLain Ward, and former Major winner, Austrian Max Kühner.

Designed by Leopoldo Palacios, six partnerships completed the Venezuelan’s 12-obstacle first round course fault-free; however, out of those six riders, Frenchman Kevin Staut and Daniel Bluman from Israel chose not to return, meaning just four riders lined-up in the jump-off. These riders included Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts, Marc Dilasser of France, Irishman Conor Swail, and the current world number 18-ranked rider from Germany and Rolex Testimonee, Daniel Deusser. 

First into the arena, Olivier Philippaerts and his 11-year-old stallion Le Blue Diamond V't Ruytershof finished with four faults, as did second to go Daniel Deusser and his 11-year-old stallion, Bing Ste Hermelle. On form Conor Swail – currently sitting fourth in the world rankings – and his 15-year-old gelding, Count Me In, made no mistake, confidently navigating the shortened course fault-free in a time of 43.46 seconds. Last to go, Frenchman Marc Dilasser looked strong in the early stages; however, he and his 10-year-old gelding Chamann Has eventually put the penultimate fence down, finishing in third place overall. 

Delighted with his win and lauding the support of his team, Swail commented: “I get on every day and ride for an hour or two, but they’re the ones putting in all the hard work, making sure he [Count Me In] is healthy, ensuring he’s travelling from A to B correctly. We’re obviously very good at what we do but it’s the team behind you that makes it all work and makes the success happen.”

And on qualifying for Sunday’s Rolex Major, Swail said: “I’m very excited because my horse is on good form. He’s already jumped here during the summer and he’s been second in the Grand Prix [CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex] here. He always gives me good chances, so if I have a bit of luck on Sunday we’ll hopefully be knocking on the door in or around the top spot.”

Rider interview: Amy Millar

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof Amy Millar. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

Which horses will you be competing with this week?

I have two horses here, Christiano and Truman. They’re both bay geldings and I’ve been riding them for a while. They’re fantastic horses – they’re solid, brave, kind and scopey, so I’m optimistic about our chances this week!

Why is Spruce Meadows such an incredible place to come and compete at?

It’s such a beautiful ring here. When you walk under that clock tower and there’s the formal nature of saluting the sponsor, coupled with the courses always being really challenging, it means it’s never boring here. What’s truly special about the ‘Masters’ is the crowd and the quality of the animals here. It’s so good for Canada to have this quality of horses and riders coming to our country. Since covid, it’s been really hard in Canada, so to now have attracted all of these great Europeans and the best in the world is really exciting.

What are your plans for this week, particularly looking ahead to Sunday’s CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex?

Qualifying is of course important. My best horse is Truman, who has to jump the Nations Cup on Saturday, and then jump again on Sunday. He’s a solid horse and he’s definitely fit enough to do everything. It will all just come down to recovery, especially if we jump two hard rounds on Saturday. It’s going to be about him feeling his best and having lots of energy for Sunday, and then we see what happens.

Word from the organiser: Ian Allison

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof Ian Allison. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

You must be thrilled to have fans back at CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, who will add to the atmosphere in the International Ring and also for TV audiences at home around the world?

The last two years have been very unusual and, in some respects, difficult. Of course, not being able to organise tournaments in Canada in 2020 and then running under a national interest exemption last year, which was very restrictive, that at least allowed us to try and find our game legs. Coming back now has been like dragging a boat out of a dry dock; we had some personnel challenges, the sport has changed and there are new players coming in, so it’s tremendously exciting for the venue itself, all of our constituents, including the riders, the media, the fans and also the corporate supporters. Our corporate supporters have been wonderful, we have a fantastic media support and this is the best entry list we’ve ever had for the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, which is fantastic!

Can you tell us about the new partnership with Sportsnet?

We’ve worked with Sportsnet on a number of occasions. What happened during the pandemic is that we started thinking of bringing things in-house because we couldn’t have a lot of people inside the property, so streaming has become much more prevalent and acceptable. We started discussions and they were welcomed enthusiastically, and we were able to expand to run 13 consecutive weeks on Sportsnet, in prime time, on both a live and delayed basis.



About the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

The Rolex Grand Slam is considered by the sport to be the ultimate equestrian challenge, primarily due to the sporting prowess required to achieve this feat. It is a quest taken on by the world’s top riders, vying to secure the legendary status associated with winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

The format of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is simple: anyone who wins three Majors in a row receives the Rolex Grand Slam trophy and a €1 million bonus on top of the class’s prize-money. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1million bonus. If two shows are won in succession, the bonus is €500,000 or if an athlete wins only 2 majors in a period of four successive shows, the bonus is €250,000.



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