Conor Swail steals first win of MLSJ season 4

Conor Swail steals first win of MLSJ season 4

Ireland's world no. 18 Conor Swail returned to familiar territory on Friday evening as he won the 5* Uryadi's Village Qualifier on the first day of Major League Show Jumping's (MLSJ) season four opener at Thunderbird Show Park in Vancouver, BC. 

Casturano, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Castelan 3 x Canturo) owned by Conall Murray, was Swail's tap for two MLSJ Team Competition wins for the Trelawny Trailblazers last season (Traverse City and Toronto), and again carried Swail to a win in Vancouver. Returning to the Trailblazers as reigning MLSJ champions, Swail was second-to-go in the 10-horse jump-off and called on Casturano's carefulness to unseat Daniel Bluman (ISR) and longtime partner Ladriano Z (Lawito x Baloubet du Rouet) from the lead.

Over tracks set by the designer Gregory Bodo (FRA), who has received the nod to build at the Olympic Games in Paris this summer, Canada's own Erynn Ballard jumped into second riding Libido van't Hofken (Nabab de Reve x Heartbreaker) for owner Sofia Popescu. Bluman held on for third with Ladriano Z, owned by Blue Star Investments and Over The Top Stables.

In the year that Swail has been partnered with Casturano, the gelding has exceeded expectations. "In the beginning, he was going very high [over the fences] so we wondered if he could jump at the highest level. You can't jump 1.60m going 2.10m. The horse always had a lot of quality and he's understanding how to manage the height better with ease rather than being as strong and extravagant.

"Major League helped him a lot," continued Swail. "Last year, he jumped six or seven team events and was clear. He's learning, getting better and, at the moment, he's not showing me any signs of stopping."

Casturano is coming off a four-star win in Kentucky, USA, and Swail will aim him at Sunday's $340,000 Cabana Coast 5* Grand Prix in Vancouver.