Conor Swail (IRL) and Vital Chance De La Roque galloped to victory in the $73,000 Cleghorn Gun Club Grand Prix CSI 2* at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC). Their efforts were challenged by Vanessa Hood (USA) and Santauer, the 2009 Oldenburg gelding (Sanvaro x Centauer Z) owned by Take Two LLC, collecting the red ribbon with a time of 47.787 seconds. Securing third place honors was Santiago Lambre (MEX) aboard Easy Girl, the 2011 Oldenburg (Conthargos x Nintender) owned by Mario Onate, with a time of 38.048 seconds and four jump faults.
Forty-four riders pursued the Guilherme Jorge (BRA) designed course with five riders qualifying for the jump-off round. With a short list of short-course competitors, the dash for the cash was tight, forcing rails and faults. The track proved to be no obstacle for Swail and the 2009 Selle Français gelding (Diamant De Semilly x Rivage Du Poncel) that he owns in partnership with Adeline Hecart, who were first to go double-clear.Swail and his new ride have proven their competitive edge in their first six months together after a bit of a learning curve, he shared. “We’re starting to gel really well together,” Swail explained. “He’s very fast, very careful, [and] very smart. He’s a little feisty to ride, which took me a while to figure out, but I think we have a good partnership now and I hope this continues for a while.”
Despite a small jump-off size, Swail chose to remain conservative with his approach to his jump-off round, he recapped. “The first two guys both had a rail, so I thought with two left to go, I would be quick but not do anything too crazy. I thought it worked well for me.” Swail, as the first clear round, challenged subsequent competitors to produce a tighter run for the top spot. “It’s better just to go clean and put a little pressure on the last two riders to beat me,” Swail stated. “Our strategy worked well today!”
Swail will continue to compete through the remainder of the Tryon Summer Series with Vital Chance De La Roque. The pair will enter the Tryon Stadium next week again in, aiming for the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3*. “He’s going to do a few more weeks, just because I feel like he’s on form, he’s jumping great, and I don’t see why we should stop,” Swail continued.
TIEC has become an influential place for Swail when building the experiences and partnerships that he strives to have with his horses. “All my horses are really developing well here, so I’m delighted to be here. The facilities are so good here,” Swail emphasized. “Normally, I just come pop in and do a few of the bigger shows, but this year because of COVID and the way things are going, I thought I would spend a bit more time here, and I have to say it’s been great so far.”