By Emily Randolph/Randolph PR
Las Vegas, NV – Ireland’s Conor Swail showed why he has been the one to beat this Longines FEI Jumping World Cup season, as he claimed the top two spots in the $40,000 CSI4*-W 1.50m Las Vegas National Welcome Speed Classic on November 18, at the Las Vegas National CSI4*-W.
With the class serving as the qualifier for Saturday night’s $150,000 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Las Vegas, presented by Walter Oil & Gas Corporation, 42 entries took on the course set at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa by renowned Olympic and World Cup veteran course designer Guilherme Jorge.
Canada’s Vanessa Mannix was the first of those riders to cross through the Longines start timers, and she quickly showed the rest of the class how it was done, crossing the finish in a swift 66.15 seconds with her own Catinka 25.
Mannix’s time would ultimately hold up for third place, with no one but Swail coming within two seconds of catching her and her 12-year-old Oldenburg mare. Swail however made shaving the seconds off look easy, finishing in 65.36 seconds with his first entry in the class, Vital Chance de la Roque.
With his second entry, Theo 160, Swail made even more of a go of it, executing slick turns and making the crowd gasp as he left out a stride where few others had. His well-calculated risks paid off as he and the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, owned by Swail and Nicola Philippaerts, finished in a winning 64.80 seconds.
“The horses are in great form,” said Swail, who comes into the Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Las Vegas having already won the $150,000 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™️ Vancouver and the $228,000 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™️ Sacramento this fall. “[Theo] came in February or March, and he was quite inexperienced, but he really has come a long way. He was doing 1.35m to 1.40m classes, and since then he’s done a lot of good FEI classes. He has learned to win and be very good.”
“[Vital Chance de la Roque]’s round was probably a little smoother,” continued Swail in speaking of the 12-year-old Selle Français gelding, owned by Swail and Adeline Hecart. “His round was less dramatic we’ll say. Theo is a bit more inexperienced, so when you’re taking a bit more risk, he’s maybe not as ready for some of the things that I’m doing on him, but he gives his all.”
Swail now sets his sights on Saturday night when he and Vital Chance de la Roque will join the top-caliber field vying for a share of the $150,000 prize money and World Cup qualifying points.
“Whether I win or don’t win, the horses are jumping well, and we’re on a good roll,” said Swail. “I’m going in confident that if I ride well and he jumps well we have a goubod chance to win. But it’s easy to knock a jump down, or it’s easy for me to make a mistake. You can’t win all the time, but I’m looking forward to it.”
When not competing in the South Point Arena, Swail is taking advantage of the show’s Las Vegas locale.
“It’s an incredible place with all of the shows,” said Swail. “We’ve been to a hockey game; I’ve been to a few night clubs. I’m going to watch a show tomorrow. I’ve golfed a few times. I’m trying to get the Las Vegas experience as well, and then obviously here we’re competing for big prize money and trying to do a very professional job. So far thankfully, the mix has been good!”