Conor Swail repeats victory with Count Me In!

Conor Swail repeats victory with Count Me In!

It hasn’t been long since Conor Swail (IRL) and Count Me In were last in the winner’s circle – just last Sunday to be precise – but the horse is clearly back in top form and the results are showing. With the 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes, breeder, breeder: Firedrich Luessmann), Swail took another win, this time on the grass field in the $32,000 100X Equine CSI4* 1.50m Speed on Thursday of Desert Circuit 4, presented by Whittier Trust. 

Alan Wade (IRL) has returned to building stellar courses for the CSI4*/CSI2* occasion on the pristine field, and his fellow Irishmen have loved the tracks so far, with Swail and James Chawke (IRL) both capturing wins as opening classes have unfolded. Swail had the advantage of bringing forth his top two mounts, with Count Me In, or “Crosby,” going second. With Vital Chance de la Roque putting in a quick 4-fault round, Swail came back on his second ride and made it count.

“I’m delighted with how Crosby performed today,” he said of the Mannon Farms-owned horse. “I think the draw helped me today; I was a little later on and I saw the way the course was going. I knew what it would take to take over the lead. Obviously then you have to go in and perform. I must say Crosby jumped exceptionally today. He was really on it. It was a lovely round from him. The round went very according to plan and he jumped it beautifully.”

Swail is feeling the confidence exuding from Crosby, especially since the horse has had a lighter year due to a falter in confidence early on.

“He’s racking up a nice run of form,” Swail continued regarding Crosby’s current record. “We finished up last year very good, winning the World Cup [qualifier] in Vegas and then he came here and jumped the $1 Million [Coachella Cup]. He’s building up a nice resume of good rounds. He feels very comfortable jumping the bigger jumps at the moment so he’s going to go on Saturday in the [$182,000 CSI4*] Grand Prix. My plan is to try to start doing a few of the bigger grand prixs again if he’s feeling comfortable, and so far so good. He feels amazing at the moment.”

The day wasn’t calling for the best forecast, which had some competitors fretting after the amount of rain that came early in the week during week three, but for Swail and the other FEI riders, the rain wasn’t a problem.

“There was talk of a lot of rain but this surface is incredible. My horses love it; when they go on there it’s like we’re jumping on foam or a sponge. It’s so nice. The rain didn’t really affect us. We’re well studded up and it caused no trouble thankfully.”

The top three featured a star-studded field of Olympic and championship-caliber riders, with Gregory Wathelet (BEL) coming in second aboard Stern Dei Folletti, owned by Morning Star Sporthorses, and Cassio Rivetti (BRA) rounded out the top three with Billy Dorito, owned by Monarch Farms, LLC.

Swail has the perfect string of horses for the level of competition at DIHP this winter, so he’s staying put, playing a wee bit of golf and enjoying the sunshine (mostly) sans humidity. Just one week prior, he captured the $117,000 CSI3* Grand Prix with Theo 160, who gets to sit the week out following his big victory.

“I have [Vital Chance] also in the four-star with Corsby so two nice chances there today and thankfully one of them paid off today,” he said of bringing forth his two top contenders. “I also have Gamble in the two-star and he jumped beautifully and finished third. You try to give yourself good opportunities for each ranking class and give it a go.”