Equestrian: Ireland’s Conor Swail lands $134,000 Grand Prix
Irish rider records only double clear on Vanessa Mannix’s GK Coco Chanel
Conor Swail and GK Coco Chanel. Photograph: Sportfot
Ireland’s Conor Swail landed the $134,000 Grand Prix in Tryon, North Carolina on Saturday night when recording the only double clear on Vanessa Mannix’s GK Coco Chanel.
Concluding the three-star international action of week four of the Fall season at the venue, the 1.50m competition attracted a starting line-up of 50. Eight riders progressed to the jump-off with Mannix, representing Canada, narrowly failing to do so herself when picking up a single time fault in the first round.
Also taking on the shortened track for Ireland was Co Limerick’s Paul O’Shea who, the previous weekend, had helped Ireland secure a team place at next year’s Olympic Games when winning the Longines FEI Nations’ Cup final in Barcelona. Here, riding Skara Glen Stables’ Skara Glen’s Chancelloress, O’Shea had a fence down against the clock and, in 46.201, finished fourth behind Swail whose second-round clear had come in 40.172.
“I thought he did a very nice job,” commented Co Down native Swail of the course designer, Canada’s Michel Vaillancourt. “There were eight clean out of 50 so it was very well built. You needed a more experienced horse just to make sure and get the back rail. The beginning was tricky and then that double line caused enough trouble, and I suppose the combination was a little scopey since it was oxer to oxer.
“The jump-off also was very difficult with a lot of sharp angles and everything was coming up late. It was very difficult to keep that smooth and I think that was probably why there weren’t a lot of clear rounds.”
Commenting on GK Coco Chanel, an 11-year-old Holstein gelding by Clarimo, Swail added: “He has his own mind sometimes and can be a little difficult, but when he goes well, it normally ends up being a win. We have learned to work together very well now at this stage and we have a good relationship. The consistency is growing all the time; there’s a lot of good results.”
Competing at four-star level in Rabat, Morocco on Saturday, Cork native Billy Twomey partnered the Kim Barzilay-owned and bred Kimba Flamenco (55.57) into sixth place in the 1.40m speed class won by Abdullah Alsharbatly of Saudi Arabia riding Beau Limit (53.20). In the two-star 1.45m Grand Prix in Oliva, Spain, France’s Julien Epaillard recorded the fastest second-round clear on Jalanta P (37.63) with Co Wexford-born Harry Allen finishing fifth on Dancing Queen Z (40.07).