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Inside the Rolex Grand Slam – with Gilles Thomas and Conor Swail

Thursday, 03 November 2022
Inside the Rolex Grand Slam

Meet the Next Gen:

Photo © Rolex / Ashley Neuhof Gilles Thomas. Photo © Rolex / Ashley Neuhof.


Press release from Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping 



You have had a great year, what has been your highlight?

I have an such an amazing year – it is hard for me to pick just one highlight! I had my first 5* victory in the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead in July which was amazing, and then coming third in the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament was a fantastic result. Most recently being on the Belgium team and winning the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final was incredible for me. I don’t think I can choose just one of those moments!

What are you hoping to achieve between now and the end of the year?

I am hoping to ride at CHI Geneva – that would be amazing. Then in Belgium we have the have a 5* show which includes a FEI Jumping World Cup™, in Mechelen, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This show is always very important to Belgian riders, and my family are involved in the organisation of it, so I really hope I can have a good result in the FEI Jumping World Cup™ there.

What are your hopes and ambitions for 2023 and beyond?

My ultimate dream is to compete at CHIO Aachen, in my opinion it is the best show in the world and the Rolex Grand Prix there is one of the most prestigious classes in the calendar. I am also aiming to compete in a Belgium senior team at a big championship. I have competed in Junior and Young Rider teams, but to be part of the Belgium team at the FEI World Championships or the Olympic Games and win a medal would be a dream come true. 

After your great performance in the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex at The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, how will you prepare for CHI Geneva? 

I’m not totally sure whether I will be competing there yet, but I hope that I will. They are two very different shows, but I would still take Aretino 13, as even though the arena at CHI Geneva is indoors, it is still very big. If I go to CHI Geneva, it will be the only indoor show that Aretino 13 competes in because he is a big horse and needs more space, so suits outdoor arenas better. CHI Geneva is such an amazing show and so I will plan to take my three best horses if I go.



The Owner's Lounge: Conor Swail

Photo © Rolex / Ashley Neuhof Conor Swail. Photo © Rolex / Ashley Neuhof.

How do you balance your dual roles as a world-class rider and a top-level owner?

I find it quite easy. I think that it is all about having a good schedule for the horses. As a rider, I have to travel around a lot, but I always make sure that none of the horses are doing too much at any one time. I try to make sure that their balance between work and rest is right and that the horses are fit, otherwise they do not perform at their best. 

How are you preparing for CHI Geneva?

I am bringing my best horses, Count Me In and Vital Chance De La Roque. I jumped Count Me In indoors at The Washington International Horse Show last weekend where he won the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Qualifier. He will go to Toronto next week, and then have a few weeks off before we go to CHI Geneva. 

Vital Chance De La Roque jumped in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago, where he also won the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Sacramento presented by GV23 Wines. He will go to Las Vegas next, which is about a month before CHI Geneva. Both horses have been jumping really well indoors and will have had a couple weeks rest before CHI Geneva – so I hope they will continue their form until the end of the year. 

How many horses do you have in at the moment? Are there any young horses that people should be looking out for?

At the moment I only have five or six. I haven’t got too many young ones at the moment. Usually I have some in Ireland that I will produce over there and then if I think there are any future 5* horses, I will bring them over to North America when they are eight-years-old.



CHI Geneva adds extra day to the programme

Photo © Rolex / Ashley Neuhof Kent Farrington competing at CHI Geneva. Photo © Rolex / Ashley Neuhof.

The highly anticipated CHI Geneva returns this year from 7 – 11 December with an extra day of competition added to the already speculator schedule of sport and entertainment. 

Taking place on Wednesday 7 December, the additional day will enable the introduction of three classes purely dedicated to national competitions. Starting at 1.15m and going up to 1.35m, the classes will be a unique opportunity for amateur riders to compete in one of the most prestigious Show Jumping arenas in the world. 

Furthermore, these competitors will have the chance to qualify for a brand-new class taking place on the Saturday evening of the show this year, the Credit Suisse Coupe du Jockey Club. This class is a team competition held over one round, with a jump-off if necessary, to determine a final winner. The teams will be made up of two winners from the amateur classes on Wednesday, an international rider, and an eventing rider, thus joining together a range of athletes competing at the show. 

Top level international classes start on Thursday 8 December with the Trophée de Genève, held in the evening, providing the first chance to qualify for the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday. Prior to this esteemed class will be the first of three classes dedicated to Under-25 riders, showcasing the next generation of top Show Jumpers.

On Friday 9 December, spectators will be treated to the adrenaline filled Indoor Cross-Country presented by Tribune de Genève which will see some of the top Eventers in the world gather to compete during their ‘off season’. The highlight for many on Friday will be the 21st running of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, which sees the most elite Show Jumpers fight to be crowned ‘best of the best’, in what is often compared to the Nitto ATP Finals in Tennis.



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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