Gamble and Swail Prove Uncatchable in $38,700 FEI 1.45m Two-Phase at 2024 Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows

Conor Swail (IRL) and Gamble won Thursday's $38,700 FEI 1.45m Two-Phase. Photo by SEL Photography

Hesslink Wins $5,000 Leading Hunter Rider Award presented by Agriventures Agway

Edited Press Release

North Salem, NY – May 16, 2024 Course designer Alan Wade set a winding 15-effort track in Thursday’s $38,700 FEI 1.45m Two-Phase at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, which saw 76 entries representing nine countries vie for top honors. Just ninth to go in the order, Conor Swail (IRL) proved to be uncatchable with his double-clear time of 28.37 seconds, bringing home the win aboard his and Asta Torokvei’s Gamble.

The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows are one of the premier stops on the nation’s hunter-jumper horse show circuit, offering a full schedule of world-class competition May 7-12 and May 14-19 that features the nation’s best in equestrian sport. 

Swail’s countryman Darragh Kenny went fifth in the order for the $38,700 FEI 1.45m Two-Phase, posting an early time to beat (28.57 seconds) with Serendepety, Oakland Ventures LLC’s 9-year-old Hanoverian mare. Swail and his 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding then sliced and diced their way into the top spot in 28.37 seconds, a time no other competitor could match as the class continued.

“I didn’t see Darragh’s round, but everyone had said it was very quick,” Swail said. “With these two-phases, there’s a really short period of time that you have to go quick in the first phase, and then you really have to run in the second phase. You can’t miss any steps; you’ve got to be quick everywhere. Even finishing ahead of Darragh pleased me. There were so many in the class, and we both went so early. If the horse has jumped great and done everything you’ve asked him to do, after that, you have to take wherever you end up. Today was Gamble’s day, and it was nice to be able to hang onto the lead.

Conor Swail and Gamble – Photo by SEL Photography

“My horse is such a great guy,” he added. “I’ve been riding him for three or four years now, and we know each other inside-out. Everything came up really well today. I think I probably caught everybody on the last green [jump]. When we rode the oxer and turned and ran for home, there was a big gallop coming into the last fence. I’d say I took a few less steps than the rest of the competitors. My horse has a huge, huge step, which I tried to use to our advantage. He also shifts off the ground very well for me, so if I just lean my body over, he starts moving even before takeoff. He’s a big horse, but he’s so agile with his movements that he turns into quite a quick horse.” 

Kenny and Serendepety ultimately landed in third place after Nayel Nassar (EGY) stopped the clock just 0.08 seconds behind Swail’s winning time toward the end of the class. Nassar finished second in 28.45 seconds aboard Linguini De La Pomme, Evergate Stables LLC’s 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare.  

“This is my first time jumping in the sand ring here,” said Swail, who last competed at Old Salem Farm in the grass field. “I’d say it rides very well. A grass ring is always lovely, but with the weather (this week), it would’ve been hard to maintain. The sand ring jumped super, and my horses felt really good on it today. They’re both showing again tomorrow, and I’m feeling good about the rest of the weekend. If we stay in good form, fingers crossed we get a couple more good opportunities to get into the prizes.” 

Other jumper highlights from the International Arena included the $5,000 Open Jumper 1.35m presented by Eastern Hay, where Canada’s Erynn Ballard clinched the top two placings with Ilan Ferder’s Good Mood Semilly (0/54.337) and Chloe Kuang’s Ellie De Chasnay (0/55.548).

Multiple hunter champions were crowned in the Hedge and June Road rings, including familiar faces such as John French (Wellington, FL) and Geoffrey Hesslink (Wellington, FL). Among French’s awards were the High Performance 4’ Hunter Championship with Meredith Lipke’s Paradigm, Green 3’6” Hunter Championship with Joan Burke’s Incognito, and Performance 3’6” Hunter Championship presented by The Will Stuart Team with Marnell Sport Horses’ Babylon

Following his successful first week at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, Hesslink added several more tri-color ribbons to his record, including the Grand Hunter Championship for the second consecutive week, Green Conformation Hunter Championship with Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Monarchy, and Performance 3’3” Hunter Championship with Sara Hogan’s Belle. As the rider who accumulated the most points in the Green, Green Conformation, Performance, High Performance and High Performance Conformation hunter divisions during both weeks of competition, he also earned the $5,000 Old Salem Farm Leading Hunter Rider Award presented by Agriventures Agway for the second consecutive year. 

Geoffrey Hesslink won the Grand Hunter Championship for the second consecutive week and the $5,000 Old Salem Farm Leading Hunter Rider Award presented by Agriventures Agway for the second consecutive year. Photo by SEL Photography

Full show results can be found at HorseShowsOnline.com

For more information on Old Salem Farm and the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, please visit www.OldSalemFarm.net