Conor Swail (IRL) finished the CSI4*-W Harvest Celebration at Thunderbird Show Park the way he began it—with a win.
The Irish rider earned his third international victory of the week by topping the event’s feature class, the $150,000 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver, with the exciting Vital Chance de la Roque.
“I’m extremely proud [of my horse],” Swail said. “He’s had a wonderful week. [He’s been] first, second and first. He jumped so well today, I suppose he deserved [the win] for being so good.”
Swail and the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding, affectionately known as “Vinny,” also won the $75,000 CSI4*-W Welcome on Thursday at tbird and finished second in Friday’s $75,000 tbird Cup. On Sunday, they added the week’s feature to their tally, the bay’s fourth international grand prix event since June 20. Swail’s student, Vanessa Mannix (CAN) finished second, with World No. 13 Kent Farrington (USA) taking third.
Farrington was first to navigate a clear round over Peter Holmes’ (CAN) 1.60m track, the opening leg of the 2021–2022 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League. Next in the ring, Swail replicated his feat, before Rowan Willis (AUS) and Mannix joined them.
The jump-off was a blockbuster. First to go, Farrington set off with a blistering pace, but the final rail on course fell, leaving the accomplished pair with four faults.
“If Kent had been clear, I imagine he would have been the winner,” Swail said. “It would have been a hard chase. I thought, because he was very aggressive and so fast, that if I just dialed it back a notch, hopefully it would still be enough to get the win.”
Swail directly followed Farrington and became the first to produce a double-clear effort, despite losing his stirrup midway around the course. Willis could not replicate the feat, leaving the results down to Mannix. She and Catinka managed to be the only other combination to navigate the jump-off without fault, but they were a bit slower, settling for second (40.59 seconds).
“I could feel him a little more nervous [today],” Swail said of his mount. “He had a bit more nervous energy in the warm-up and, in the ring, he was a little more aggressive than in the beginning of the week. But he knows where his legs and feet are, and he’s so careful and has so much quality.”
Swail has only been partnered with “Vinny,” whom he owns in partnership with Adeline Hecart, since the beginning of the year. Now, he’s considering a run at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Leipzig, Germany, next April.
“I got him at the start of January, and I found him a little bit tricky in the beginning, but we’re really figuring each other out,” Swail said. “We seem to have found the right way to go. He’s such a wonderful horse, and his last five, six, seven shows have been exceptional.”
Goal Achieved for Kassidy Keith in $25,000 CSIU25-A MarBill Hill U25 League Final Powered by Grant Productions
Kassidy Keith (CAN) has had her eyes on the CSIU25-A MarBill Hill U25 League Final for quite some time. A previous winner of the series with former mount Crackerjack, she dreamed of reclaiming the title with Havana, a 9-year-old mare she has developed since she was just four years old.
Keith secured the Series with a Sunday morning victory at Thunderbird Show Park, topping a four-horse jump-off aboard her longtime mount. Her winning time over Peter Holmes’ (CAN) short course was 34.13 seconds. Reid Pankewicz (CAN) finished second with Barack (36.88 seconds), with Nyah Chernoff (CAN) and Causality Z third (4/36.78).
“This series win for me with Havana means a lot, because I brought her up from such a young age,” said Keith, 23. “She’s really near and dear to my heart, and I think she’s just going to get better. Today she tried really, really hard. She knows when it’s a special day, and she tried her heart out for me.”
Keith and Havana made their CSI3* debut in August, taking a win in the U25 division at tbird’s Summer Fort Classic CSI3*. Returning to the U25 League for its international designation at the Harvest Celebration, the pair had been knocking on the door all week long, finishing second in both the opening speed and jump-off classes. Those victories went to Nyah and Stella Chernoff, respectively.
“I’ve been fighting it out with Stella all year and, for me, I normally win the speed portion, so I actually haven’t done a ton of jump offs, and I’ve been doing [the U25 division] for a while,” Keith said. “Last year, I got a ton of practice, and the more I ask of her, the better she is.”