CO DOWN show jumper Conor Swail continued his unbelievable run of recent form at the Desert International Horse Park in California last weekend, winning two three-star classes and finishing runner-up in the $101,000 Marshall & Sterling Grand Prix.
Swail was beaten in Sunday’s Grand Prix by Brazil’s Cassio Rivetti and Alanine de Vains who sped the victory in the eight horse jump-off, ahead of Swail with Vital Chance de la Roque and another Northern Irish rider in Lorcan Gallagher, who finished third with Cana van de Blom.
Tipperary international course designer Alan Wade set a technical track for the 29 athletes competing in the feature event. The questions included a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination midway through the course, a triple bar to a careful plank vertical, and an oxer-vertical double combination before turning to the final line that finished over a delicate vertical next to the pocket.
Eight combinations managed to complete the first round with zero faults, and six of them went on to be clear again against the clock. Swail set the stand early on with a clear round aboard Theo 160 in 36.84 seconds, which would eventually be good enough for fifth place.
Rivetti was next in and looked lightening fast, making quick turns with Alanine de Vains to break the beam in an uncatchable 34.37 seconds.
Gallagher gave it a good try, following a similar track, but was two seconds slower with Hot Horses LLC’s Cana van de Blom and would eventually place third with a clear time of 36.39 seconds.
As the last to go, Swail had one more chance to beat Rivetti and he laid it all on the line with his own Vital Chance de la Roque, but they were just a fraction too slow in 35.18 seconds to take the runner- up position and just over $20,000, as well as $6,000 for fifth palce. Gallagher earned just over $15,000 for third place.
Swail won two three-star classes at the venue. The first of those victories came in Thursday’s 1.50m aboard Vital Chance de la Roque when he was the fastest of seven clear rounds from the 35 starters in 63.31 seconds, a huge margin of almost eight seconds faster than the runner-up, New Zealand’s Uma O’Neill with Clockwise of Greenhill Z (0/ 70.17).
Swail then won Saturday’s 1.45m aboard Theo 160, one of just two double clear rounds in 37.77 seconds to earn $12,000, beating Canada’s Lisa Carlsen into second place with Atena de l’Ermitage. Lorcan Gallagher finished second in the national 1.45m Grand Prix at the venue with Ivaludine S.