CO DOWN world number five Conor Swail won the three-star $139,000 Grand Prix at Tyron International Equestrian Centre last weekend aboard Vital Chance de la Roque to continue his excellent run of form.

Just 25 started over the first round of the track, built by Portugal’s Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR), with nine combinations managing to keep a clean sheet. Swail and the 13-year-old gelding who is owned by Mannon Farm were the fastest of eight double clears in 34.05 seconds to take victory and €45,870 in prize money. It was their second consecutive FEI of the week after also dominating the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stakes on Thursday.

Australia’s Lauren Balcomb finished seond with Verdini D’Houtveld Z, ahead of USA’s Jacqueline Ruyle with San Chano.

“I’m so lucky to have this horse,” Swail said of ‘Vinny’ who “comes out every week like that. Today, he came out and he jumped so well. I got a little bit of luck at the plank, but you know, you need a bit of luck sometimes! In the jump off, Lauren was so fast, and I was able to see that I had to leave nothing out there, and everything came up very well.

“He answers all the questions I ask him every time, so I’m so thrilled with him. He’s just amazing. I must say, last year here, we were just finding our feet a little bit, and just getting to know each other. Tonight I thought he was very comfortable and he jumped very within himself. He’s getting more relaxed, which is so good.”

The winning strategy that has propelled Swail to the top end of the FEI ranking list is a bit unusual: he keeps horses in multiple locations and travels between them to compete at the venues best suited to his rides. For Vinny, it’s the East Coast.

“I keep a few East, and I have some horses West that jump in Thunderbird and Calgary, but Vinny doesn’t have any shoes, and those venues are all grass. I keep him over here. We’ve done two [shows at] Kentucky and Tryon, and now he’s getting a break and he’s going to Ocala, then he’ll have a few weeks off and will maybe come back here for a couple of weeks. It’s great that we came here and he delivered.”