Tag Archives: Conor Swail

Spruce Meadows Summer Series Begins with Strong Competition at the ‘National’

Kent Farrington and Gazelle. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.

Calgary, AB, Canada – The Spruce Meadows Summer Series kicked off competition on Wednesday, June 8, with some of the best show jumpers in the world riding for top honors in the ‘National’, presented by Rolex. Kent Farrington (USA) won the highlight competition of the day, the Bantrel Cup 1.55m, with Gazelle. Conor Swail (IRL) and Cita were the fastest to capture the Erwin Hymer Group Cup 1.50m, while Jack Hardin Towell (USA) and Lucifer V won the Back on Track Cup 1.50m. The CSI 5* tournament continues through Sunday, June 12.

Highlights of the week’s competition include the $500,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, on Saturday, June 11, and the $175,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby on Sunday, June 12. The course designer in the International Ring for the ‘National’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, is Guilherme Jorge of Brazil, who has been tapped to design for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Five of 29 starters in the Bantrel Cup 1.55m found the clear track to the jump-off, with pathfinder Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Fine Lady 5 taking the shortened course first. Their blazing time of 39.95 seconds would have been good for the win, but a rail down left them in fourth place.

Next in were Farrington and Gazelle, who were quick with less risk to go to the top of the leaderboard, clear in 42.18 seconds.

“I know Eric well, and I know that horse very well,” Farrington said. “I knew that was going to be the speed of the class, so I wanted to be sure to watch him go so I knew what I had to do. When he had a rail down, I thought I would go more measured than I had planned, but put enough pressure where the others had to go. He was really going all out there, and it would have been hard to beat if he hadn’t had that rail.”

Antonio Chedraui (MEX) and La Bamba were also clear in 46.83 seconds, which placed them third. Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Victor landed in fifth place with a time of 43.01 seconds and four faults.

Last to go, Yann Candele (CAN) and Showgirl slotted into second place with a strong time of 44.06 seconds despite a slip on course.

Candele said, “She’s in aluminum shoes. It makes the foot slippery even with caulks. Even with that, I saw the time. Even if I made both turns, it would be close, but I don’t think it would make the win.”

Gazelle, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Kashmir Van Shuttershof x Indoctro owned by Farrington and Robin Parsky, was Farrington’s mount for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto where they won the team bronze medal. Farrington noted that she is learning to be a good grand prix horse, and the plan for her time at Spruce Meadows is to gain mileage in bigger competitions.

All three riders commended Spruce Meadows on their improvements since last year. Candele noted, “The facility looks great, and as usual there has been some upgrading. It’s going to be great sport.”

Farrington added, “I love riding on grass. It’s one of my favorite parts of Spruce Meadows. The horses jump well on grass, and it’s better for them.”

Chedraui complimented, “I really love the place. I’ve been able to show many places in the world, and it’s pretty hard to find a place like this. Not only the footing, the stables, the warm-up rings that every year get better and better, but also the people and the ambience that you produce here. I think it’s really the best of the best.”

Swail Starts with Victory

There were 38 entries in the first competition of the year on the field of the International Ring in the Erwin Hymer Group Cup 1.50m. It was held as one round for speed, and the fastest of the day was Ireland’s Conor Swail on Cita, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Pik Romero) owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. Swail and Cita scorched the field by putting in a time of 65.46 seconds with no faults.

Five seconds behind was Canada’s Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze on Melody des Hayettes Z, owned by Artisan Farms LLC. They posted a clear round in a time of 70.45 seconds. Third place went to Antonio Chedraui (MEX) on Corcega La Silla in 73.72 seconds. Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Acita placed fourth in 75.33 seconds, while Antonio Maurer (MEX) on Galileo de Laubry was fifth in 75.90 seconds. There were seven clear rounds.

Conor Swail and Cita
Conor Swail and Cita

Swail and Cita were first paired last August, and he took his time with the “unbelievably careful” mare. This spring they won in Palgrave and Langley before topping the first competition at Spruce Meadows.

“She’s been amazing,” Swail said. “To go straight into that ring and jump 1.50m, and to do it the way she did it… I mean, she won by five seconds. I did a couple of turns that no one else did, and that’s basically I think where most of the time came from. I did an inside turn there, and when I did it and I saw the angle that I was at, I thought it was an awful, bad idea on my behalf. She was incredible to jump it.”

Swail plans to attempt his first derby at Spruce Meadows on Sunday in the CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby with Cita, and it will be her first derby as well. He feels confident though that her carefulness and energy will carry them well through the challenging competition.

“We’ve trained all the stuff at home, and she’s like, ‘No problem, no problem.’ There’s so much quality (that) when I’m jumping fence 24, I’m not going to run out of engine, that’s for sure. I like doing derbies but unless I’m in it to win it, I don’t want to go in it. The few years I’ve been here, I’ve never had anything suitable. I’ve practiced on her a few times at home, and I feel she’s very good at it and I think she has a good chance on Sunday, even though it’s her first go and mine.”

Towell Goes for Speed

Another 38 entries went to post for the Back on Track Cup 1.50m speed, and 14 were clear to lead the results. The fastest of those was Jack Hardin Towell (USA) on Jennifer Gates’s Lucifer V, who stopped the timers in 60.86 seconds for victory.

Eric Lamaze had to settle for another second place ribbon today, this time with Artisan Farms LLC’s Rosana du Park. They finished the course in 61.47 seconds. Fellow Canadian Vanessa Mannix and Dooley’s Deluxe were third in 67.13 seconds. Olympic gold medalist Leslie Howard of the United States was fourth with Utah in 68.14 seconds, while Ian Millar (CAN) and Teddy du Bosquetiau were fifth with a time of 68.81 seconds.

Towell brought Lucifer V, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lord Pezi x Grandeur) to Spruce Meadows last year with some success. He has grown into one of Towell’s top grand prix horses, performing well at CSI 5* events. After a month’s break following the winter season, Towell decided to step Lucifer V down this week while his second mount, New York, does the grand prix.

“There’s nothing like being over-horse-powered in a class!” he laughed. “I thought I would give it a little bit of a go. He jumped quite well, and he feels good. He always jumps well here. It was nice to step him down and go in there for both our confidence, together.”

With age comes wisdom, and Towell feels lucky that both of his top horses are maturing and growing.

He said, “It’s amazing how much they’ve grown in a year’s time. This class last year, Lucifer went in. I probably would have been close to winning, and then he saw something, spooked, and reared. It’s nice that both of my horses are 10 years old now; they’re a little older and more experienced. I feel like they’re coming along well.”

The Spruce Meadows ‘National’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, continues on Thursday featuring the ATCO Pipelines Cup 1.50m, the Westmoreland Coal Cup 1.50m, and the ATB Financial Cup 1.55m.

For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

Spruce Meadows Media Services

Jennifer Wood
Jump Media

Conor Swail and Cita Claim Victory in $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m Classic at WEF

Conor Swail and Cita. Photo copyright Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – March 23, 2016 – Week eleven of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Artisan Farms, began Wednesday morning at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL with a win for Conor Swail (IRL) and Cita in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m Jumper Classic.

WEF 11 features CSI 4* rated jumper and ‘AA’ rated hunter competition running March 23-27, 2016. The $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 will be featured on Thursday. Friday features the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic in the morning and the 9th Annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championships in the evening.

Saturday highlights the $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, presented by Equiline, on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC beginning at 11 a.m. with a brunch hosted by Equiline in the Tiki Hut at The Stadium beginning at 10:30 a.m. The $130,000 Engel & Völkers Grand Prix CSI 4* will be the feature event in the International Ring on the main show grounds Saturday evening beginning at 7:45 p.m. Competition concludes on Sunday with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic also held on the derby field at The Stadium. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.

Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER) is the course designer in the International Ring for WEF 11. Petersen kicked off the week with 70 entries in the 1.45m speed class and 27 clear rounds. Sixth to go in the order, Conor Swail set an uncatchable time of 65.31 seconds that would hold on for the win riding Ariel and Susan Grange’s Cita.

Lauren Hough (USA) guided Paris Sellon’s Street Hassle to second place in 66.67 seconds. Daniel Coyle (IRL) jumped Susan Grange’s Tennyson to third place in 67.04 seconds, and Laura Chapot (USA) rode her own and McLain Ward’s Quointreau Un Prince through the timers in 67.52 seconds to place fourth.

Cita, a ten-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Pik Ramiro), last won a 1.45m FEI World Ranking class competing with Swail in November. She then jumped some smaller classes throughout the WEF circuit before stepping up again this week.

“She finished up last season very well with a big win in November, and we have been a little slower, just getting organized since then,” Swail explained. “She went a little bit green on me at the start of the circuit, so we just took our time and did a lot of national 1.40m classes, and now it is time for her to step up a little bit again. She had a break for a few weeks and today she was really good; I thought she was fantastic.”

Going sixth in the order, Swail did not get a chance to see anyone else go before his round, but the course was good for Cita and the rider stuck to his plan.

“I had an early draw, but it was quite a galloping course, there was a lot of room to run, and that suited my mare,” Swail stated. “Even though she is a small mare, she has a huge stride. Starting with number one to two, I did seven strides there, which was a big leave out. Then for me, fences one, two, three, four, and five were where you made a lot of time. I galloped a lot the first five jumps, and then you were a little committed to numbers again through the middle of the course. Then there was another little gallop towards the end.

“I thought it was a nice round,” Swail continued. “I was very pleased with how well she handled it. She stayed nice and smooth even though we were going at a high speed.”

Speaking further of his mount, Swail noted, “She can get a little nervous, and we have just been trying to keep her as relaxed as possible. That is why we have not been rushing her too much this circuit. I felt it was time now to press on a little bit and see how she coped with the pressure of going quick again, so I was very happy with how she responded. I am hoping she is going to be one of my top jumpers, so this is a stepping-stone to move up for her.”

Cita will finish the WEF circuit next week followed by a week in Miami before taking a little break. Her season will start up again competing at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, Ontario before heading on to Calgary, Alberta for the Spruce Meadows Summer Series starting in June.

Also competing in the International Ring on Wednesday, the $6,000 1.40m speed, sponsored by Illustrated Properties, was held in a California split. Todd Minikus (USA) and Two Swans Farm’s I Am Nala were the winners of Section A, while Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Bowers Cone LLC’s Cassini Z topped Section B.

The eleventh week of competition at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival continues on Thursday with the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 and the Perfect Products Pre-Green Hunters 3’3″ will award championship honors in the Rost Arena. For more information and full results, please visit www.pbiec.com.

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Hunters Rule the International Arena for World Championship Hunter Rider Week at WEF

Scott Stewart and Catch Me. Photos copyright Sportfot.

Conor Swail and Dillinger Win $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6

Wellington, FL – February 18, 2016 – The arrival of World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival heralds the traditional beauty of the hunter discipline, which is featured all week long in the main International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The professional hunter divisions were completed today and seven divisions named champions. WEF 6 runs through Sunday, February 21, with the highlight event, the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, as the “Saturday Night Lights” event starting at 6:30 p.m. under the lights.

Jumper competition during week six is held at The Stadium at PBIEC. Ireland’s Conor Swail and Dillinger took the win in the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6.

The international jumpers get a fresh change of scenery competing in both the International Ring and the Derby Field at The Stadium through Sunday. The $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3* will be the highlight event on Friday night in the Global International Ring, the $10,000 Artisan Farms U25 Welcome Grand Prix sponsored by EnTrust Capital and the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will both be held on the derby field at The Stadium on Saturday, and the $25,000 Artisan Farms U25 sponsored by EnTrust Capital as well as the $50,000 WEF 6 National Grand Prix will both be held on the derby field at The Stadium on Sunday. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.

Perennial favorite Scott Stewart of Flemington, NJ captured two championships today; he rode Dr. Betsee Parker’s A Million Reasons to the tricolor in the High Performance Hunter division and David Gochman’s Catch Me to the Equine Tack & Nutritionals Second Year Green Working Hunter championship.

Stewart topped two of the three over fences classes and placed second in the under saddle with the nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Havens Schatt settled for the reserve honors with Shaw Johnson Price’s 11-year-old Mecklenburg gelding, Custom Made, topping the under saddle and earning a fifth and two second place ribbons over fences.

Catch Me was recently named the USHJA WCHR Hunter of the Year for 2015 and will receive the WCHR Peter Wetherill Cup on Saturday night. In May of 2015, Catch Me became ill and was diagnosed with botulism, a neurologic disorder that can result in paralysis and may be fatal. Since the disease was caught early and treated, Catch Me was able to make a full recovery and returned to the show ring in August.

“When you saw him at the clinic you would not have thought he was going to make it,” Steward remarked about the ordeal.

He was especially impressed with the gelding’s performance this week. “He’s so careful, and he was awesome,” Stewart detailed. Catch Me’s performance has led him to consider competing him in the Hunter Spectacular.

Stewart looks forward to earning a spot in the coveted class each year. “It’s certainly one of the most special weeks for us here,” he remarked. “It’s still a great thing to try to do.”

Stewart and A Million Reasons won the stake round of the High Performance Hunters with a score of 88 and placed third in another of the three over fences classes. A Million Reasons also earned a blue ribbon in the under saddle class.

The 11-year-old Holsteiner mare walked right into the International Arena on Wednesday, competing for the first time since the National Horse Show in November. “She doesn’t show that much,” Stewart detailed about the mare’s light show schedule. When asked what helps the mare continue to impress year after year, Stewart explained, “I don’t really jump her [four feet high] at home. She has an easy job, so I think she stays pretty interested.”

A Million Reasons, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, may be a small horse, but she never appears to be when on course. “She’s not that big a horse, but she has a giant stride,” Stewart stated. “You just have to do things her way. She’s a little temperamental, but very scopey for a small horse.”

Kelley Farmer and Like I Said settled for the reserve honors after winning two of the three over fences classes. The pair also placed sixth in the under saddle. Like I Said is an eight-year-old Mecklenburg mare, who was recently purchased by Pony Lane Farm.

Farmer and Like I Said moved up to the top tricolor ribbon in the Equine Tack & Nutritionals First Year Green Working Hunter. Farmer, who splits her time between Lexington, KY and Wellington, piloted the mare to wins in two of the three over fences classes. The pair also placed fourth over jumps to clinch the tricolor win.

Like I Said received the highest score of the week, earning an impressive 94 in the stake round today. “She was amazing; what a horse,” Farmer stated. “The only reason she wasn’t champion in two divisions this week was because I got in her way.”

Farmer and Like I Said also won both of the over fences classes in the High Performance division on Wednesday. “For a First Year horse to walk in the International ring yesterday and win both classes… she’s a heck of a horse, and I think she speaks for herself,” Farmer laughed. “I couldn’t be happier with her.”

Reserve champion honors in the First Year Green Hunters went to Victoria Colvin and Style. Style, who is a seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Take the High Road LLC, earned a second place ribbon in the under saddle, and a first and a sixth over fences.

Farmer topped another division in the Shapley’s Grooming Products Green Conformation Hunters with Clever Conversation, a seven-year-old Warmblood gelding by Celestial owned by Kensel, LLC and Woodland Way, Inc. They placed second in the model, won the under saddle, and were first, second, and second over fences. Trainer Larry Glefke was pleased that the horse continued his winning ways from earlier in the circuit in WCHR week, but the young gelding will not compete on Saturday night. “All of them that Kelley rides can jump big jumps, but going out there for the first time under the lights is a lot to ask from him as a First Year Horse,” he explained.

“Clever” is like a “baby Huey”, Glefke described. “He’s like a big puppy dog. He’s beautiful, and he has a tremendous canter. He just flies across the ground. When you’re cantering around, you feel like his feet don’t even touch the ground.”

Farmer added, “He was ready to come into his own. He’s been winning a lot. He’s brave, he’s quiet, and he has a ton of ability. I knew he would walk out there (in the International Arena) and love it.”

Farmer also rode the reserve champion in the division, It’s Me, owned by Farmer, Pinney, & Hill. The seven-year-old Warmblood stallion by Quality won two over fences classes and was third over fences, and placed third in the model.

Farmer, like Stewart, has been reigning in the professional hunters since the WCHR Hunter Spectacular started 20 years ago. When asked about her success during WCHR week at WEF, she stated, “I’ve won that (Hunter Spectacular) class once. I’d really like to say I’m a multiple winner! To keep having horses that are capable of competing on that field and at this week, [qualifying for] the class, it’s a testament to all of my team and what a great job they all do. Larry, Bucky (Reynolds), Debbie (Buchanan) in the barn, and all my great guys, and the horses. I’m lucky to have a group like I do. It’s nice to keep being back in the mix every time.”

For Farmer, it’s a balance of peaking her young and experienced horses at the right time and keeping herself healthy. Last year at WEF 4, a horse she was riding tripped and fell. Farmer tore her rotator cuff and had a hairline fracture in her sternum. Despite her injuries, she was back week 6 and competing.

“Truthfully I wasn’t in good enough shape to ride, and I pushed myself. It probably didn’t benefit my horses, and I didn’t ride the way I should for my horses. This year, I’m back and I feel good,” she said.

Chris Payne of Cincinnati, OH brought home another championship for the circuit with Truman, a nine-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Debbie Bass and Maypine Farm, in the Shapley’s Grooming Products Regular Conformation Hunters. They won two over fences classes and were third in the remaining over fences class, and won the model and the under saddle.

“He’s an absolutely amazing horse,” Payne said. “He’s a beautiful horse, he’s very correct. He hasn’t lost an under saddle. He just has a great style and technique. He is what you think of, when you think of a hunter.”

Payne, who imported Truman as an inexperienced five-year-old from Europe, did not have any expectations coming into WCHR week. But he is excited to showcase Truman’s talent in the horse’s first ever Hunter Spectacular at WEF. “The International Ring is very imposing for some. I went into it hoping that he and I had a good time,” he explained. “If the cards played out in our favor, I was happy. (On Saturday night) I’ll go out and have a good time. I’m lucky to get to ride him, and Debbie Bass is an amazing owner for letting me do this.”

The reserve champion in the division was Lucador, ridden by Scott Stewart for Dr. Betsee Parker. They were third in the model, second under saddle, and first, second, and third over fences. Stewart plans to compete Lucador in the Hunter Spectacular on Saturday night.

A field of 58 horses vied for the Performance Working Hunter 3’6″ championship, resulting in a California split of the division. Elizabeth Boyd piloted Stella Styslinger’s O’Ryan to one of the two championships following two wins and a fourth place ribbon over fences. The pair also placed fourth in the under saddle. Brady Mitchell rode Cassanto to the second championship title. The pair placed first and second over fences and topped the under saddle. Cassanto is a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Emily Perez.

Jimmy Torano piloted Mia Holstead’s Sutherland to one of the Performance Working Hunter 3’3″ division championships. Torano placed second in the under saddle and earned fifth, second, and first place ribbons over fences on the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding. Victoria Colvin also earned a championship tricolor aboard Havana, who is a 16-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Take the High Road LLC. The pair topped the under saddle class and earned a second and two third place ribbons over fences.

Conor Swail and Dillinger Win $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6

Richard Jeffery (GBR) set the course for 70 starters in Thursday’s Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 6. Ten entries cleared the first round course to advance to the jump-off where only four jumped double clear.

Conor Swail and Dillinger
Conor Swail and Dillinger

Laura Kraut (USA) and Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc.’s Constable were first to clear the short course in 42.29 seconds, eventually finishing third. Sayre Happy (USA) cleared the track next with HC Sport Horses’ Ludwig’s Joker B to finish fourth in a time of 44.29. Conor Swail was next to clear the jump-off course with Ariel and Susan Grange’s Dillinger, stopping the clocks in the winning time of 39.98 seconds. Last to go, Peter Wylde (USA) jumped into second place with a time of 41.28 seconds aboard Kathleen Kamine’s Paloma.

Speaking of his jump-off round, Swail said, “One to two was just a nice seven strides for him. The rollback was pretty nice and then the eight strides up to the Liverpool were nice for him. Then just on the landing he had a little bit of a stumble and it made me turn a little late there, but thankfully we still got that inside turn. Then the in-and-out and the last fence he did great.”

Dillinger, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion (by Contender x Capitol I), is a horse that Swail has high hopes for.

“He just turned nine years old, so this would be the start of the higher level in his career,” Swail stated. “He is a very good horse. We have had him since he was five years old, and he has been very good basically the whole time we have had him.”

“He jumped his first couple of 2* and 3* grand prix at Angelstone at the end of last year and he jumped clear in five out of the six ranking classes, so he has been very consistent,” Swail noted. “This is probably his first big win, but he has had some good placings. He is a fabulous horse. He is very scopey and very careful. It is what we are all looking for,” he said.

The smaller International Ring at the Stadium was a change for Dillinger, but the young horse proved his versatility and made great turns.

“For a big horse that ring is actually quite difficult, so I think it is a testament to how good he reacted, and I was delighted with him,” Swail said.

Dillinger will jump again in Friday night’s $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3*, but Swail plans to take his time developing the horse further.

“We have been building him up gradually,” Swail detailed. “He was out a few weeks ago jumping the two 1.45m ranking classes. He had one down with the fastest time in the first class and he was third the next time, so he is slowly improving. I think he is going to be a championship horse. I really do think a lot of him. Whenever he is more comfortable and more ready to jump the bigger jumps, I think he will tell me when he is ready to do that. In the meantime, he is getting good experience all of the time and I never want to over face him too much, so we will keep just going along nicely. Hopefully towards the end of this year he will be doing some pretty nice things.”

In addition to the winning prize money, Swail picked up a $3,000 bonus for wearing SSG ‘Digital’ style riding gloves as part of the SSG Gloves ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion.

While jumper action continues at The Stadium on Friday featuring the $130,000 Grand Prix CSI 3* in the evening, the third day of WCHR competition will host more championship presentations on the main show grounds. For more information and full results, please visit www.pbiec.com.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Luck of the Irish Rules during Turf Tour Week 6

Conor Swail and Fortis Fortuna (Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography)

Wellington, Florida (February 14, 2016) – In one of its busiest shows yet this season, week 5 of The Ridge at Wellington’s Turf Tour series combined world-class competition and ideal weather as Olympians, amateurs, juniors, and young horses vied for top honors on Wednesday and Friday, February 10 and 12, 2016. Irish riders rode to top finishes across the major divisions, including the Grand Prix and 1.30-1.35m divisions, as Darragh Kenny, Cian O’Connor, and Conor Swail dominated the standings to make it a true Irish sweep.

With a backdrop of the verdant polo fields of the International Polo Club, the fast and accurate pair of Conor Swail and Fortus Fortuna, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange, delivered the winning ride in the $15,000 Grand Prix on Friday, over a course designed by Nick Granat. His double clear effort was contested by only a handful others, while his jump off time of 36.078 proved unbeatable in the course of the day. Another Irish native and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Cian O’Connor, took reserve honors with a final jump off time of 38.161 aboard his own Enriques of the Lowlands. O’Connor also took fourth place with Duke of Carnival behind two-time US Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward and HH Ashley. 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist Beat Mandli of Switzerland settled into fifth with Grant Road Partners’ Celina, followed by 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Maher and Jane Forbes Clark’s Aristo Z in 6th, Stephen Moore and Teddy Vlock’s Team de Couquerie in 7th, and Cathrine Dinan aboard Grant Road Partner’s Galan S in 8th. Maher, who has competed on the Turf Tour for the past three weeks, has made use of the venues and divisions to prepare the experienced Aristo Z for bigger classes later in the season. “We had a holiday towards the end of last year, and have been using a few classes here to build him up for the bigger Grand Prix next week,” stated Maher. “[The Turf Tour] is great, a nice change from what is on offer, with a relaxed environment and excellent venues. It’s been great for me so far this year.”

Darragh Kenny and Gatsby
Darragh Kenny and Gatsby

To round out the Irish dominance during week 6, Darragh Kenny and Gatsby, owned by Toffolon Partners, LLC, won both of the 1.30-1.35m classes, with Beth Underhill aboard Cadermie and Edward Levy aboard Starlette de la Roque taking the reserve in each class. Granat’s designs in the Grand Prix and 1.30-1.35m made excellent use of the expansive turf course, and was intended to present a challenge that relied upon the use of strong basics and tactful riding to adjust between the first round and jump off. Thanks to the generosity of the Turf Tour’s newest sponsor, Bright’s Creek, the winner of Friday’s Junior/Amateur Owner Classic and Grand Prix will receive a 3-day, 2-night trip to their beautiful destination in the mountains of North Carolina. From equestrian activities and fine dining to luxury accommodations and an exclusive BMW Off Road Excursion through 7.2 miles of wilderness trails, hardwood forests, and ancient rock formations, the Turf Tour’s competition now have even more reason to put their best foot forward as Bright Creek will be sponsoring the Grand Prix and Junior/Amateur Owner Classic through the rest of the season. For more information visit the Bright’s Creek website.

In addition to the Grand Prix and 1.30-1.35m divisions, the second arena featured Low, Medium, and High Schooling Jumpers, 5-, 6-, and 7-Year-Old Jumper classes and qualifiers, a Junior/Adult Amateur Classic, and Speed/Jump Off classes. Intended to act as a catalyst for the growth and development of horses and riders, the Turf Tour combines breathtaking venues with amenities as world class as the riders to consistently draw some of the top competitors in Wellington. Week Seven of the Turf Tour will again take place on the beautiful grounds of the International Polo Club on Wednesday and Friday, February 17 and 19, 2016.

For more information, visit www.theridgefarm.com. For up-to-date information, please follow The Ridge at Wellington on Facebook.

Media Contact:
Holly Johnson
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
954 205 7992

Swail Adds Another Victory to Conclude 2015 Holiday Series at PBIEC

Conor Swail and Martha Louise. ©ManciniPhotos.

Wellington, FL – January 13, 2016 – On the final afternoon of the Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) 2015 Holiday Series, Irish phenom Conor Swail collected yet another victory at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), this time aboard Martha Louise in the $50,000 UHealth Ear Institute Grand Prix, the final grand prix class before the commencement of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on January 13. Swail finished the jump-off in 40.731 seconds to edge fellow Irish rider, Darragh Kenny of Wellington, FL and Picolo, who crossed the timers in 42.29 seconds. Amanda Derbyshire of Wellington, FL and Lady Maria BH earned third place honors with a time of 44.264 seconds.

Swail and Martha Louise, a 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare (Maloubet de Pleville x Virginia Wolf) owned by Five Way Farm, LLC, displayed their prowess in the second round, edging notoriously fast jump-off riders Kenny and Derbyshire. According to Swail, Martha Louise has been knocking on the door for a win and he feels confident that the mare is entering WEF in top form.

“I just arrived back in the States last week and I had the plan to do Martha Louise and Rubens LS La Silla this week. We gave them both the class on Thursday and I thought the class today was very nice,” noted Swail. “Anthony [D’Ambrosio] did a good job as usual. It was a nice course and not huge, but I was very pleased with both of the horses. I think it was a great start for us.”

With 35 trips in the first round, Swail knew that a difficult task was ahead with nine combinations moving forward to the jump-off round, including his second mount, Rubens LS La Silla, owned by Vanessa Mannix, who finished in ninth place.

“I thought Darragh was very fast. I really had to hustle hard to beat him and I have to say everything happened the way that we wanted it too. She jumped very well, but it was one of those jump-offs where you couldn’t leave anything on the table,” he explained. “You couldn’t miss a step and thankfully she was very alert since she has not competed since November. It was fantastic.”

Martha Louise has come out strong in the past two months and Swail commented on her unflappable consistency, a quality that he says is invaluable entering the WEF season, as many of the world’s best competitors will test the International Ring at PBIEC throughout the 12-week circuit.

“Martha was off for quite a substantial period of time last year, but did very well towards the end of circuit. She actually jumped really well here in the Holiday & Horses CSI 4* and think she got cheated a bit because she didn’t get anything, but she was right there the whole time,” commented Swail.

A number of strong mounts in Swail’s string will be legging back up to begin their season in Wellington, FL, including Cita, Dillinger, and Grafton, but Swail made sure to note that Martha Louise will always be a go-to mount for him, especially as her dependency continues to show its worth.

“She’s got an incredibly big step and she turns very well. She has good experience now at this level. When you look at the class list I think she probably went into this class as one of the favorites and in that way it’s nice to know that she proved that she should be. She’s incredibly consistent,” he elaborated. “I’m very thankful to have Lothlorien Farm and the support of Sue and Ariel Grange. It’s a nice way to start off the year.”

Andrew Kocher and Uppie De Lis
Andrew Kocher and Uppie De Lis

Andrew Kocher and Uppie De Lis Cruise to Victory in $10,000 Hendrick Brothers Construction 1.40m Open Stake

Andrew Kocher of St. Louis, MO and Uppie De Lis, owned by BTS Entertainment & Sales, earned a well-deserved victory on Thursday, January 7, in the $10,000 Hendrick Brothers Construction 1.40m Open Stake. The duo finished as the fastest combination in the first round and continued that momentum into the jump-off, which saw as fifteen combinations test the fast track.

Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON, and Pina Colada, owned by Paule Morin and Lucie Corbeil, finished in second place with a time of 37.377 seconds. Kocher also picked up third place honors aboard Ora Del Te Di La San Giorgio, owned by Ora Del Te LLC with a time of 37.377 seconds.

For more information on PBIEC, please visit www.pbiec.com to see a full schedule and list of results.

Swail Adds Another Win in $34,000 1.45m Consolation Classic at PBIEC

Conor Swail and Cita. Photo: ©ManciniPhotos.

Wellington, FL – November 29, 2015 – In another brilliant effort, Conor Swail (IRL) concluded his season with back-to-back wins at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) as he rode Cita to victory in the $34,000 1.45m Consolation Classic on the final day of the Holiday & Horses CSI 4* competition. Competition at PBIEC will resume Saturday, December 5, with the Equestrian Sport Productions Year-End Awards show.

Repeating a nearly flawless performance, Swail and Cita crossed the timers in 36.726 seconds to edge Ali Wolff (USA) and Brianda, who set a fast pace late in the jump-off order with a time of 36.868 seconds. Emanuel Andrade (VEN) and Nokia de Brekka finished the class in third place with a time of 37.707 seconds.

Making good on his word, Swail added yet another ranking class win to his record, celebrating his 24th FEI victory this season. With each of his three FEI horses performing consistently throughout the week, Swail tackled the day’s course, set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA), with the same ease and efficiency he displayed last night aboard Viva Colombia in the $212,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI 4*. An original 40 entries contested the first round of the $34,000 1.45m Consolation Classic, with 13 combinations moving forward to the second round and seven pairs finishing the day with a double clear effort.

“It feels truly great to win two big FEI classes in a row. I have three great horses here this week. This one is still a bit new for us. She’s just nine and is by Casall. I think this is only her sixth or seventh show with me so far this year,” explained Swail. “She has a lot of quality, and I think she has really a lot to offer. I’m hoping that by the end of circuit this year, near April, she’ll be doing some of the bigger grand prix classes.”

There are high hopes for the 2006 Holsteiner mare (Casall x Vorr.) owned by Susan & Ariel Grange, who made her FEI debut with Swail in early September. Her raw athleticism and speed set her apart, adding another competitive edge to Swail’s string, which is based at Lothlorien Farm.

“I think she’s going to be really special. She’s unbelievably careful, and is just a feather off the ground. She really has a lot of blood, but just needs a bit more experience. It was really nice for her to run around and do a great job today,” he continued.

With a competitive line-up set for the jump-off, Swail knew that a win would not come easy, and a carefully planned but quick effort around the course would be needed to top the class. He commented, “It was a course where there was a lot more running than turning, and she actually felt a bit green to fence one and two. We did one more step than I had wanted, but she’s still very quick across the fences so I thought it would be okay if I kept a good rhythm and a nice high pace. Thankfully again, it was my day and I felt I did just enough for the win because Ali had a great round,” he remarked.

Piloting his second mount, Martha Louise, also owned by Susan & Ariel Grange, to a top ten finish, Swail concluded his final competition of the year on an incredibly positive note, as he believes the pieces are finally falling into place with the beginning of a new year approaching quickly.

“Martha had a lovely round today also. I felt like she was just a tad unlucky this week but jumped beautifully in all of the classes. It’s a great way to end as this is our last show of the year, and I’m so pleased that it went as well as it could have gone for us,” noted Swail. “I’m quite lucky that I have such a good group of horses around me now, and you know, Lothlorien is incredible. We have a few nice new ones coming up and are always looking for carefulness, blood, and quality. We try to find the good athletes, as that’s what you need in the sport today. I have great owners behind me and have a lot to look forward to as we move into another year. I think over the next few years, we’re going to create something really positive.”

For a full list of results, please visit www.pbiec.com.

Swail and Viva Colombia Impress in $212,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI 4*

Conor Swail and Viva Colombia. Photos: ©ManciniPhotos.

Wellington, FL – November 28, 2014 – In an exciting jump-off finale, Conor Swail (IRL) and Viva Colombia finished with top honors in the $212,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI 4* presented by Palm Beach Sports Commission and Discover the Palm Beaches at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Swail and Viva Colombia bested the talented jump-off of eight competitors with a time of 37.922 seconds. Eugenio Garza (MEX) and Bariano finished just off the pace for second place, crossing the timers in 38.25 seconds while Hardin Towell (USA) and New York posted the remaining double clear effort of the night with a time of 39.072 seconds. Competition will conclude at PBIEC tomorrow with the $34,000 Consolation Classic beginning at 1pm.

The class of 32 competitors in the grand prix faced a difficult track set by course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA), which had eight competitors move forward to the second round, while nine pairs dropped a rail on course, incurring four faults. Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Victor were the only duo to finish with a single time-fault in the first round and would finish in ninth place.

Swail rode late in the order aboard Viva Colombia, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Couleur-Rubin x Lando Lady) owned by Ilan Ferder, and made the most of his trip around the track, which called for scope and adjustability.

“We had planned to leave Viva for tonight. A good friend of mine, Ilan Ferder, owns her and I’ve had a really good year with her. She’s just getting better and better,” said Swail. “I thought tonight she was just wonderful and jumped great in the first round. Things worked out for me in the second round with Samuel [Parot] and Kent [Farrington] being a bit unlucky, but for me it felt like we were going to be close and I wanted to go for it.”

Eugenio Garza and Bariano
Eugenio Garza and Bariano

Garza would finish with the first double clear effort of the night, which seemed tough to beat, as Towell followed but couldn’t reach the 38 second mark. A single rail burdened Parot and Farrington, who blazed around the course, both finishing in less than 37 seconds. Farrington, piloting longtime partner Uceko, seemed to have all but added another win to their record after dashing through the course in a nail-biting effort, but a rub at the final vertical kept Farrington from his second win this week, as the duo added four faults for fourth place.

Towell was proud of his third place finish aboard New York, stating, “Tonight was a great class and I was really happy with New York’s performance. We got him a couple of months ago and he’s been out of the spotlight a bit compared to my other horses Emilie and Lucifer. I was really proud of how he handled everything tonight.

“I think he’s really stepping it up and I’m looking forward to what he has in store for the future. I am so thankful to have the support of Jennifer Gates behind me with all of the horses and it feels great to have finished so well in a very competitive class,” he continued. “Conor is a close friend and it’s never fun to lose but I’m so happy for him that he won. Eugenio rode great and is really stepping up to the plate in the bigger classes. I think it was a great show of talent tonight.”

Motivated to finish with a respectable result, Swail felt the course was well-suited for his mare, even though the track proved difficult for many of the night’s competitors. He elaborated, “I thought the course looked quite nice when we walked it and it wasn’t so big, but it was extremely careful and there was a bit of width on the oxers. In that respect, you needed a really good horse to jump around it.”

In a careful but quick effort, Swail nudged out Garza for the fastest double clear effort in the jump-off, pushing for the final finish and earning his 23rd FEI victory of the year. Viva Colombia, both talented and scopey, has proven her consistency in many of the large FEI classes the duo has contested together this year.

“For me, when I got her in the beginning, I felt like it was really important for her to gain confidence in our program and our system. I worked on her balance a lot this year. The carefulness and scope was always there with her. I wanted to focus on making her stride a bit more adaptable and adjustable. I think now she’s really learned that throughout the year and has been very successful,” he continued. “Viva has been quite fast and has won several speed classes too, which has helped her be a little bit quicker in her mind. The balance has gotten a lot better, and she’s much more adjustable.”

Swail had a tremendous fall season and collected numerous wins during the indoor circuit season. He will now give his string a rest before looking towards the commencement of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in just a few short weeks at PBIEC.

“She’ll get a nice break. She deserves it. We probably won’t bring her out again until week four or five during circuit. It’s been great to finish the way we have with her, and she’s just fantastic,” he noted. “Her consistency has been extremely solid, and I’m delighted for Ilan and myself that things are going well. We have a real quality horse on our hands.”

Steadily shifting up the world ranking leaderboard this year and currently sitting in 37th, Swail has set his sights on reaching the top ten in 2016.

“I’d really like to get into the top ten in the world. It’s a pretty big goal, but I’m 37 now and feel like that’s where I need to be. I know that what I need to do is get a few bigger grand prix wins this year. I think I have enough ranking class wins, and it’s time to focus on getting good results in those bigger classes. I don’t think I could have had a better start than tonight,” he said. “I want to focus on improving those results so that’s kind of what the main goal is right now. We have some very nice horses, and we’re looking forward to another great go at it this season.”

The Holiday & Horses CSI 4* will conclude tomorrow with the $34,000 Consolation Classic beginning at 1pm in the International Ring. For more information and to see a full list of results, please visit www.pbiec.com.

Conor Swail and Simba de la Roque Win Opening Speed Class at WIHS

Conor Swail and Simba de la Roque. Photos © Shawn McMillen Photography.

Katy Hamilton and Sacha 12, Tegan Elizabeth Treacy and Catalyst Victorious in WIHS Children’s and Adult Jumper Championships

Washington, D.C. – October 21, 2014 – The 2015 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) hosted its first day of jumper competition at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with a win for Ireland’s Conor Swail and Simba de la Roque in the feature $10,000 International Jumper speed class, sponsored by Amalaya Investments. The $10,000 WIHS Children’s and Adult Jumper Championships were also highlighted with a win for Katy Hamilton and Sacha 12 in the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, sponsored by Shamrock Ventures, and victory for Tegan Elizabeth Treacy and Catalyst in the $10,000 WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Championship. WIHS continues through Sunday, October 25, featuring hunter, jumper, and equitation highlights.

Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) is the course designer for the jumper competition at WIHS this week. D’Ambrosio opened the international competition with 38 entries in the $10,000 speed class, sponsored by Amalaya Investments, and ten clear rounds. Belgium’s Jos Verlooy set early speed aboard Axel Verlooy and Euro Horse Bvba’s Farfelu de la Pomme to eventually finish fourth in 54.75 seconds. Francois Mathy (BEL) quickly took the lead with a time of 53.97 seconds riding Team Harmony and Francois Mathy’s Polinska des Isles, eventually settling for second place. Margie Engle (USA) completed a fast round in 54.60 seconds riding Abunola for Elm Rock Partners LLC to secure third place honors. Second to last in the order, Ireland’s Conor Swail stole the show with a time of 49.05 seconds riding Susan Grange’s Simba de la Roque.

Swail and Simba, a nine-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kannan x Allegreto), have been on quite a roll recently. “It has been since I got him really,” Swail noted. “He has won a class at every single show he has jumped at. It is phenomenal what he is doing and what he continues to do. I have been using him sparingly, but every time he goes, he wins. It seems like he has been around a lot, but he has had good breaks as well. I do not know what to say about him anymore, he is just such a good horse.”

Latest wins include last week’s Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA and a victory at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show in New York City just before that. For Wednesday’s win, the pair had the luck of the draw on their side at the end of the class.

“I had already been in with one horse and she jumped a great round. It gave me an idea about the winning time and what it took to win,” Swail detailed. “It was not my intention to go particularly fast on him, but I thought if I did the numbers and a few tight turns, there was a class there for the taking and as usual he did not let me down. He was phenomenal. It felt very comfortable for him.”

This is Swail’s second time competing at WIHS and a great start to the week for Simba de la Roque as he contests some bigger classes in the coming days.

“This is a beautiful setting in the middle of the city and a great stadium with good footing,” Swail stated. “It is great to come here and compete against the best riders. Simba has a big step, but at the same time he is quick on his feet and quick in his mind, so it seems that he is taking to the indoor circuit well. He is fast across the ground, so he works well on both a big surface and a small surface, which is great. It makes him adaptable and durable for where you want to go and what you want to do.”

Katy Hamilton and Sacha 12 Top $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, sponsored by Shamrock Ventures

Jumper competition got underway early Wednesday evening with a win for Katy Hamilton in the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, sponsored by Shamrock Ventures, aboard Sacha 12, owned by Old Barrington, LLC.

Katy Hamilton and Sacha 12
Katy Hamilton and Sacha 12

Hamilton, 16, trains with Amelia McArdle at Old Barrington Farm and hails from Chicago, IL. The original field included 32 and Hamilton was one of 12 to advance to the jump-off, besting six double-clear efforts in 32.38 seconds for the win.

Mary Elizabeth Cordia and Zodiac, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, crossed the timers just fractions slower to finish second in 32.822 seconds. Grace Boston and Whiskey Rox took third in 33.699 seconds, while Kiana Fiore finished fourth aboard her own Arvakur. Haley Redifer capped the top five on Gerry 79 in 34.689 seconds for Dawson Equine Investments, LLC.

Hamilton’s only goal for 2015 was to qualify and compete at the Washington International Horse Show with Sacha 12, but winning was an accomplishment she never dreamt could happen. For the victory, she was awarded The H. Fenwick Kollock Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Friends of Fen.

“It’s all really unreal; seeing horses in the streets, the schooling area inside [Verizon Center] and traveling as far as we did. I’ve been shaking the last couple days because I was so nervous,” said Hamilton, who made an 11-hour trip for her first-ever WIHS appearance. “I’m confident in Sacha and I know she’s fast, but I figured we were going to be against the fastest in the country, so I didn’t know what to expect.”

After riding hunters for the past ten years, Hamilton sat on Sacha 12 – her first jumper – last August and immediately felt at home. “I always noticed her around the barn and thought she was so cool, but I never thought I’d be riding her,” she said.

When Hamilton began preparing for her transition to the jumper ring, she immediately pitched her trainer on leasing Sacha 12, but McArdle thought the 16-year-old mare had too much blood for a young rider.

“I nagged her a bit and I guess the nagging worked,” laughed Hamilton. “I started hacking and taking lessons on Sacha [last summer] and we clicked right off the bat. She carries me through every mistake and every time we go in the ring she jumps her heart out. You can feel that she wants it just as bad as I do – she’s unlike any other horse I’ve ever ridden.”

“She’s definitely a horse show horse,” said Hamilton. “When she gets to the show, she’s in the zone and doesn’t look at anything. She’s perfect. But, at home she likes to push your buttons. She was my first jumper so I didn’t know what I liked and what I didn’t like, but I sat on her and thought she was the coolest mare ever.”

While Hamilton’s win at WIHS was a highlight, the evening was bittersweet. Wednesday marked the end of Sacha 12’s lease and their last time in the ring together. However, thanks to Sacha 12, Hamilton has found her niche in the jumper ring and hopes to return to WIHS in 2016 aboard the junior jumper mare she recently purchased.

Tegan Elizabeth Treacy and Catalyst Win $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship

Tegan Elizabeth Treacy and Catalyst
Tegan Elizabeth Treacy and Catalyst

The $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship was held next in the evening session with a win for Tegan Elizabeth Treacy (19) of Needham, MA, riding Starlight Farms LLC’s Catalyst. Thirty-one entries started over the first round course set by Anthony D’Ambrosio, and 17 advanced to the jump-off, where only seven cleared the short course without fault in a competitive race against the clock.

Sydney Crenshaw and Fit to Print Farm’s Camera Ready were fast in 30.03 seconds to finish third. Dean Dignelli and Heritage Farm, Inc.’s Redefin blazed through the course, taking a hard inside turn that gave him the edge in 29.78 seconds, but the pair eventually settled for second place. In the end, Treacy and Catalyst, a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Cruising x Ceredigion) clocked the winning time of 29.38 seconds. They were presented the Dorothy Foote “Goodie” Taylor Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by Mr. & Mrs. Robert Ashton Hill and Miss Linden Joan Hill.

“I haven’t ridden much in the past few months; I started at Duke University in the fall, so I think I have ridden possibly five times just including Capital Challenge, Harrisburg and now Washington,” Treacy detailed. “She is a jumper that I got at the beginning of the season after I aged out of the equitation and I did a lot with her in Florida and all around New England for the summer. I definitely trust her a lot. I made several mistakes undoubtedly in the jump-off, but having such a loyal mare by my side definitely makes me comfortable to be able to kind of let go and let her take care of me.”

This was Treacy’s first time competing at WIHS and a great experience, though she immediately heads back to school on Thursday.

“I’m only here unfortunately for a very short period of time. I flew in this afternoon and fly out at 6 a.m. tomorrow, but what I have seen of it I love,” she noted. “It was a lot of fun to come. Washington has definitely been like no show I have experienced before – just the fact that we are in the city – the stabling is literally hundreds of feet away from my hotel. It is way different than a lot of other shows, and I think the excitement of the city itself definitely shows through.”

The Washington International Horse Show continues on Thursday with the beginning of Junior Hunter competition in the morning and Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper competition, as well as a $35,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake later in the day. The evening session will welcome local horse lovers, riders, trainers, and their families for Barn Night, presented by Dover Saddlery, beginning at 6 p.m. The $20,000 International Jumper Gambler’s Choice costume class, sponsored by the Winter Equestrian Festival, will be the highlight event of the evening. For full results, please visit www.wihs.org.

About Washington International Horse Show, www.wihs.org
Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of the most prestigious equestrian sporting events in the U.S. More than 26,000 spectators attend the six-day show, which includes Olympic-level competition along with community and charity events. More than 500 top horses and riders come to D.C. from all over the globe to jump for more than a half a million dollars in prize money. Event highlights include the $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, for the President’s Cup (Saturday night), The Boeing Company Puissance high jump competition on Military Night (Friday) and Kids’ Day (Saturday), a free, fun and educational community event. The Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition and is recognized as a Top 25 Horse Show by the North American Riders Group. WIHS is rated CSI4*-W by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the world governing body for horse sports.

Conor Swail Pulls Off Repeat Victory in U.S. Open $40,000 FEI Speed

Conor Swail and Simba De La Roque. Photos by Josh Walker for The Chronicle of the Horse.

Nicole Bellissimo Conquers U.S. Open $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix

New York, NY – U.S. Open Show Jumping commenced at the second-annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show in Manhattan’s Wollman Rink on Thursday evening with a $40,000 FEI Speed Class, presented by Canadian Pacific Railway, and the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix. Ireland’s Conor Swail, who also took top individual honors in the 2014 $50,000 “NYC vs. The World” Team Speed Challenge in Central Park, jumped to victory again in the FEI Speed, this time aboard Simba De La Roque. Also earning U.S. Open accolades, Nicole Bellissimo took top honors in the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix in the irons of Harley David to kick off day two of the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, which continues through Sunday, September 27.

International designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil set the track for the $40,000 FEI Speed Class, presented by Canadian Pacific Railway, which served as an opening round to the U.S. Open $212,000 FEI 3* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex. Twenty-seven competed in the speed test with faults converting to points and carrying over to the U.S. Open Grand Prix on Friday, Sept. 25.

Swail and Simba De la Roque entered the ring, backed by the New York City skyline, from 14th in the original order, and the nine-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kannan x Allegreto) left all the rails intact in Jorge’s 13-effort course. He stopped the clock clear and fast in 57.36 seconds for owners Susan & Ariel Grange.

Swail’s time bumped fellow Rolex Central Park Horse Show veteran Todd Minikus (USA) from the lead into second. Minikus and Quality Girl, owned by Quality Group, finished as the runner up in 58.10 seconds. Daniel Bluman and Conconcreto Believe capped the top three in 59.33 seconds for owners Blue Star Investments and Colombian colors.

Hardin Towell (USA) and the aptly-named New York, owned by Jennifer Gates, LLC, took fourth in 61.57 seconds, while Kent Farrington and RCG Farm’s Uceko rounded out the top five finishers on 62.17 seconds.

Coming off a win in the $125,000 New Albany Classic last week, Swail and Simba De La Roque have enjoyed a string of recent successes, topped by Thursday’s U.S. Open win.

“It’s great to be here again. The horse was great and the venue is just amazing,” said Swail. “The course builder wanted us to ride it a certain way and I don’t think there was any other way to do it. We all did similar numbers all the way around.”

Swail gave credit to Simba De La Roque for being careful and accurate in striking surroundings, but acknowledged that his challengers were sitting on horses with similar talents. “The 1-2-3 horses are all very careful and very shifty with quickness off the ground. You need to be on something that can be that way in this atmosphere. Now and again you try and make the horse fit the venue and I think it’s working so far,” he added.

Bluman agreed, saying, “It’s about picking a horse that can jump like it’s an indoor competition. You also have to have a horse that can walk into a very impressive venue right off the bat, feel comfortable with the crowd and rise up to the occasion.”

Bluman and Conconcreto Believe jumped near the end of the order, leaving Minikus’ time with Quality Girl from the 9th place in the order intact.

“My plan was not to go as quick as I did, and when I came in the ring, Quality Girl seemed like she woke up a little bit. I overrode the first jump, but then she felt on her game and we just tried to stay on the same page the whole way around,” said Minikus.

All three top riders agreed that the class was the perfect preparation for Friday’s signature event. The U.S. Open $212,000 FEI 3* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, takes center stage in Wollman Rink on Friday at 8 p.m., when riders will not only aim to take home the blue ribbon, but an exciting bonus as well. While cashing in on their share of the $212,000 purse, the winning rider will be presented with an additional $25,000 for the U.S. Open honor.

After Thursday’s win, Swail set his sights on preparing for Friday, but was quick to acknowledge his gratitude for being invited to the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, and to Canadian Pacific Railway for their dedication to promoting horse sport.

Canadian Pacific’s President and Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel joined riders at the closing press conference and expressed his satisfaction with being part of the second-annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show. “I was here last year and this exceeded expectations again – it’s phenomenal,” he said. “I sat here sending pictures to my wife and my daughter – it’s just an incredibly special place for a competition and was first class. We’re so happy to be a part of it.”

This year serves as the unveiling of the U.S. Open at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, a concept that Mark Bellissimo, International Equestrian Group (IEG) CEO, is confident will expand. “We’re already seeing the riders bringing their better horses this year and I think it will just continue in the right direction,” he said. “Over time, we want this to be one of the greatest stops in show jumping. Bringing something to the market like this is very different and I think there’s an amazing opportunity for the sport here.”

U.S. Open $25,000 U25 Grand Prix
Earlier in the evening, 21-year-old Nicole Bellissimo and Harley David made her father, Mark and The Bellissimo Family proud with a win in the U.S. Open $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix. She piloted her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (HarleyVDL x Libby) to the only double-clear effort of the class, finishing in 38.07 seconds after a four-horse jump-off.

Abigail McArdle and Harriri V.D. Maltahoeve posted the first clear round from the first position in the original order for owners Plain Bay Sales. She was later joined by Kelli Cruciotti aboard Serenity Equestrian Ventures’ Chamonix H, Hayley Barnhill with The ISB Group, LLC’s Beezie, and finally Bellissimo.

Returning first in the jump-off, McArdle had two rails to finish fourth. Next, Cruciotti and Barnhill both pulled one rail apiece before Bellissimo returned with an open door.

“I was obviously in the advantageous position of going last,” said Bellissimo. “At the same time, I wanted to make sure that if I had a rail I wasn’t too slow and I tried to ride that plan.”

Nicole Bellissimo and Harley David
Nicole Bellissimo and Harley David

Bellissimo broke the beam clear in 38.07 seconds for the win, while 18-year-old Cruciotti claimed second on four faults in 37.31 seconds, and 22-year-old Barnhill third with four faults in 37.34 seconds.

“I’m so thrilled to be here, and I want to thank The Chronicle of the Horse and Rolex for putting on this fantastic event. To think that we’re competing in the middle of New York City with that skyline behind us is an incredible experience,” added Bellissimo. “I’m so happy with my horse. He’s only eight, so he really had to step up this year and he absolutely did tonight.”

The Under 25 Grand Prix Series is designed to give young riders a valuable stepping-stone from the junior and amateur ranks to the grand prix level and was spearheaded by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) and Artisan Farms at the Winter Equestrian Festival in 2010.

“I’m very proud of all three riders, but especially proud of the winner,” said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of both ESP and IEG. “As a father thinking of the strategy, you know there were no clear rounds so I thought she would go slow, but she took some turns that I wouldn’t have taken. That’s why I’m sitting in the stands and she’s not.”

Bellissimo continued, “It was the perfect kick-off to a great event and I’m excited to see the Under 25 division emerge.”

The Rolex Central Park Horse Show continues through Sunday, September 27, with more multi-discipline equestrian sport. In addition to Arabians, the schedule includes the inaugural U.S. Open in the following categories: Jumpers, Dressage, Hunters, and U25 Jumpers. All classes will be streamed live at www.centralparkhorseshow.com.

About Rolex Central Park Horse Show

Launched in September 2014, Rolex Central Park Horse Show is the first-ever outdoor, multi-day equestrian sporting event in New York City, showcasing some of the best show jumpers and dressage riders in the world as they vie for top prizes against a backdrop of skyscrapers in one of the world’s most iconic venues. As the event founder, Mark Bellissimo is the CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions and International Equestrian Group LLC; Managing Partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEF), Tryon Equestrian Partners and Colorado Equestrian Partners; and Publisher of The Chronicle of The Horse magazine. In its second year, Rolex Central Park Horse Show will make its triumphant return from September 23 to 27, 2015 and will feature five days of multi-discipline equestrian sport and performances, ranging from Arabians and Dressage to Hunters and Show Jumping. The Rolex Central Park Horse Show will also host the inaugural U.S. Open in the following categories: Jumpers, Dressage, Hunters, U25 Jumpers, and Arabians. For more information, visit http://centralparkhorseshow.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CPhorseshow, and follow @cphorseshow on Twitter and Instagram.

Media Contact:
Shin-Jung Hong
Nicholas & Lence Communications
Tel: 212.938.0005

Equestrian Media Contact:
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Lindsay Brock

Stage Is Set for Inaugural U.S. Open Show Jumping Championship at Rolex Central Park Horse Show

Georgina Bloomberg at the 2014 Rolex Central Park Horse Show. Photo ©Rolex/Kit Houghton.

Canadian Pacific Railway and Rolex sponsor the two-round competition where McLain Ward, Kent Farrington, Georgina Bloomberg, Todd Minikus, and Conor Swail lead the list of top riders vying for the U.S. Open Title

New York, NY – From Olympians to up and coming talent, the Inaugural U.S. Open Show Jumping competition will highlight the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, running Sept. 23-27 in the heart of New York City’s Central Park. Founded in 2014, the second-annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show is dedicated to attracting the best in equestrian sport to compete at a once in a lifetime location.

U.S. Open Jumper events at the 2015 Rolex Central Park Horse Show will welcome the world’s best to contest two rounds of competition over courses set by international designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil. The $40,000 FEI Speed Class, presented by Canadian Pacific Railway, kicks off the schedule with an opening speed round on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8 PM.

Faults from Thursday will be converted to points and carry over to the U.S. Open $212,000 FEI 3* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, Friday, Sept. 25 at 8:00 PM. Riders will pilot the same horse in both rounds, and the highest ranked rider will not only be crowned the inaugural U.S. Open winner, but receive an exciting bonus. While cashing in on their share of the $212,000 purse, the winning rider will be presented with an additional $25,000 for the U.S. Open honor.

Hometown girl and accomplished international rider Georgina Bloomberg took top call in the 2014 Central Park Grand Prix and will return to her native city to defend her title this year in hopes of being crowned the first U.S. Open Jumper Champion. The world will be able to watch her efforts as the U.S. Open CSI 3* Grand Prix is scheduled to air on NBC Sports Network during prime time from 9-10:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 27.

“Winning last year’s Rolex Central Park Grand Prix in front of a New York City crowd was one of the highlights of my career,” said Bloomberg. “New York is my home and to be able to compete in this city is an experience like no other. I am proud to see show jumping return to New York and I can’t wait to showcase the sport that I have dedicated my life to in the heart of Central Park again this year.”

In addition to Bloomberg, the prestige of show jumping in Central Park has attracted a star-studded cast of high-performance riders all vying for the U.S. Open title, including the likes of Kent Farrington, Todd Minikus, Conor Swail and McLain Ward, to name a few.

“New York City’s Central Park is a unique host and presents a change from the typical venue for both us as riders, but also our horses. However, it’s worth the effort to have a show in the center of the city and highlight the sport with many top riders,” said Ward, who most recently took home an individual gold medal for the USA at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada.

Show jumping was last seen in New York City’s Central Park in 1981 and at Madison Square Garden in 2001, but the Rolex Central Park Horse Show found a home at Wollman Rink last year. “We all miss what showing at the Garden was, and this is bringing that back in a similar way,” added Ward.

“I was both overwhelmed and encouraged by the positive response from participants, spectators and media outlets to last year’s event in Central Park,” said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group, LLC (IEG). “There is no better place to showcase horse sport through the U.S. Open than in the iconic New York City. I have confidence that the Rolex Central Park Horse Show’s U.S. Open will become one of the premiere events on the show jumping calendar.”

Tickets can now be purchased at http://bit.ly/1AV2imv. To request table information in the Hospitality Tent, please e-mail Anne Caroline Valtin at vip@centralparkhorseshow.com or call 561-784-1133.

Additional information can be found at www.coth.com and www.centralparkhorseshow.com.

Media Contact:
Shin-Jung Hong
Nicholas & Lence Communications
Tel: 212.938.0005

Equestrian Media Contact:
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Lindsay Brock