San Juan Capistrano, CA – Ireland’s Conor Swail claimed his third CSI2* win of the week on Friday, May 12, this time earning victory in the $40,000 CSI2* Winning Round, presented by Walter Oil & Gas Corporation, aboard Vital Chance de la Roque.
“It’s been great!” said Swail of his winning week at the San Juan Capistrano International in California. “It’s a great facility. I love grass fields. I grew up in Ireland and riding in a lot of grass fields, so this is very natural for me to ride in. I’m really, really enjoying myself.”
While Swail may have been a favorite for the win in Friday’s class given his back-to-back wins aboard Gamble earlier in the week, the victory was far from handed to him. Twenty-six entries contested the first-round track, and the top 10, regardless of faults, were then invited back on a clean slate for the second round.
Course designer Leopoldo Palacios set a track of beautiful jumps with standards including surfboards, golf clubs, horse heads and more, recognizing the show’s “Heart of San Juan Capistrano Day.”
Swail was the sixth to return on his first entry, Gamble, and the penultimate rider to return aboard his winning mount, Vital Chance de la Roque. When he and “Vinny” entered the ring, the time to beat had been set at 52.16 seconds by the USA’s Kyle King and Cerolino, owned by Ilan Ferder. Learning from two rails down in his ride aboard Gamble, Swail cruised across the finish on Vinny in a clear 51.25 seconds for the win. King took second, and Canada’s Jacqueline Steffens Daly and Hellcat, owned by Team Eye Candy, finished in third.
“I overdid it a little bit [on Gamble]; I went a little too fast and paid the price,” explained Swail. “I had a couple of mistakes. Then on Vinny, I sort of recalculated a few different areas, and thankfully, it was still fast enough to win.
“Vinny and I have had a great partnership for the last few years,” continued Swail in speaking of the 14-year-old Selle Français gelding, owned by Mannon Farm. “Last year, I think he was ranked the fifth best horse in the world. He’s extremely careful, very competitive. He wins me a lot of classes. His last event [of last year], he won the CSI4* Grand Prix in [Thermal, CA]. That was his last show, so I’ve just given him an easier time this week, and thankfully, he’s enjoying himself so far!”
For the win, Swail was awarded a Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths custom shadowbox and a Riderzon gift certificate, and he was joined in the winner’s circle by representatives of the Nations Cup event planning team. This team of hard-working professionals worked tirelessly, meeting at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park for hours on end, with the sole mission of transforming the Riding Park into an equestrian and VIP experience like no other.
To learn more about the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup USA, the featured event of the San Juan Capistrano International, visit USANationsCup.com. For full results of Friday’s $40,000 CSI2* Winning Round, presented by Walter Oil & Gas, click here. The class is additionally a member event of the ATCO Spring Series Leading FEI Rider Bonus.