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The year in review – with Conor Swail: “As an Irish rider, winning the Aga Khan Trophy is what you dream of”

Thursday, 29 December 2022
Interview

Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen/Boss Mare Media “The highlight for me in 2022 was Dublin. Just because as an Irish rider, winning the Aga Khan Trophy is what you dream of when you are growing up,” Swail says. Photo © Kaitlyn Karssen/Boss Mare Media.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Ireland’s Conor Swail will leave an unforgettable year behind him. Not only did Swail make a childhood dream come true when he secured Ireland the Aga Khan Trophy in the Nations Cup at Dublin Horse Show back in August – a show where he also finished second in the Longines Grand Prix, but he also took big wins at some of the world’s most prestigious venues such as Aachen, Spruce Meadows, as well as Geneva, not to forget that he finished on top in both the Longines FEI World Cup in Sacramento and Washington, and did his first ever World Cup Final in Leipzig in April. With no less than 32 international wins this year, Swail moves into 2023 as no. five on the world ranking. 

Smooth

“I don’t know the best way to describe it, but it’s gone extremely smoothly,” Swail says about 2022. “It’s not like it felt particularly busy, it just seemed to roll along. All the plans and everything that we tried to do, seemed to work out. Now that I am a little older and have been around long enough, I think it’s sort of been quite seamless when this opportunity came along.”

“I had all these firsts this year,” Swail says. “My first World Cup Final, my first time in Aachen, my first time winning the Aga Khan – and this was something I was waiting on, something that I did not have in my career and something I felt I should have had. So rather than going into these firsts nervous or worried, I was just seeing it as my opportunity to show that my horses, my team, and I, are very capable of competing on the world stage."

Spectacular 

“The highlight for me in 2022 was Dublin. Just because as an Irish rider, winning the Aga Khan Trophy is what you dream of when you are growing up,” Swail says. “But it was not only the win in itself, it was also about the way it happened – it was very spectacular [Editor’s note: Swail jumped double clear with Count Me In, and then went last in the jump-off against France to secure the win by more than a second]. And I think because of the 2020 and 2021 cancellations due to the Covid-pandemic, the crowds were just fantastic this year – it was as big a crowd that has been there for some years now, everyone was just glad to be back out and enjoying a normal life again. I used to go to Dublin Horse Show from when I was five or six, and I don’t think I ever missed a year when I was younger – it was something I grew up with. So, for me, it was quite spectacular how it all unfolded.”

“It makes me proud to know that I am able to go and compete with the best horses and riders in the world, and be successful,” Swail continues. “I suppose I want to prove it to myself, more than to anyone else – and that kind of drives me to try to be the best I can be. I have really enjoyed this year because I have had the opportunity, and I have a few horses that are able to give me the chance to win something big.”

“I would not be here without my friend Conall Murray of Mannon Farm – without him I would not have had the opportunity,” Swail says about his success. “If it was not for his help, I would not be able to have this group of horses – it has made a big difference.”

More expectation

“At the moment, I have a really nice bunch of horses, and after this year I would look at 2023 slightly different than how I went into 2022,” Swail says. “I would probably do a similar schedule, but this time I would be going in with more expectation. Now I know what my horses are capable of, whereas last year I was not sure, and I think my horses were not sure either. After one year of going to the biggest shows in the world, we have kind of realized that we are capable of having a chance of winning – and it’s a different feeling knowing that you and your horse are capable of jumping at top level. Now I go in and I know that we can do it; if I do a good job and everything goes our way, we have a chance.”

“In 2023, I would love – especially for Count Me In – to win something big and prestigious,” Swail says. “Like one of the Majors, or the World Cup Final for example. We were quite close a few times this year, and he would really deserve it.”

 

29.12.2022 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of Showjumping.com. If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 



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