Show Jumping

Thunderbird Belongs to Conor Swail

©Cara Grimshaw Photography/tbird

You can call Thunderbird Showpark “The Conor Show” from here out.

In 2017, Irish rider Conor Swail swept the Summer Fort Festival at the bucolic venue in Langley, BC, winning three FEI classes including the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Vancouver. This year, the winning Irishman is poised to sweep both weeks of tbird’s Summer Fort series.

The streak started last week with the Summer Fort Classic.

Swail captured Friday’s $37,500 CSI3* Cypress Point Stables Grand Prix aboard GK Coco Chanel, Saturday’s $10,000 Maui Jim Winning Round with Koss Van Heiste and both feature classes on Sunday—the 1.40m Amperage Energy Grand Prix (Koss Van Heiste) and $100,000 CSI3* ATCO Cup (Rubens La Silla).

This week at the Summer Fort Festival, he’s on track for a repeat three-peat with a victory in the $75,000 CSI4*-W Maui Jim Welcome Stake with Rubens La Silla on Thursday. Swail and the 12-year-old Selle Francais stallion posted a deceptively fast round in the 1.45m speed class, stopping the clock at 70.61 seconds.

“It was a nice win, and I’m delighted for the horse. I thought he jumped fantastic,” said Swail.

Only eight of the 50 starters jumped clear over the Alan Wade (IRL) designed track.

“When you walk around Alan’s tracks, you always think they are sort of nice, straightforward tracks, but he’s always making you make all the right decisions,” said Swail.

“He’ll catch you somewhere around a course if you’re not on it. I got a good draw with Rubens, and we had a certain amount of numbers [of strides] all the way around [that I wanted to get], and thankfully I got everything the way I wanted. He felt really smooth, and it made it very easy for me to ride him. I thought he just jumped beautifully.”

Rubens, a horse that returned to Swail’s string following a sale last year, also contributed to Team Ireland’s win in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ at tbird.

“I got him back in February/March time this year, and I think that the longer I’ve had him, the better relationship we’re getting,” Swail continued. “He hasn’t done anything particularly wrong at all throughout the whole time, but for me, he’s actually improving. Looking forward, it looks like he has a good, bright future.”

On Sunday, Swail will look to defend his title in Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver, presented by Facet Advisors, with Rubens La Silla. But only after he attempts to win Friday’s $75,000 Steel-Craft Door Products Cup with GK Coco Chanel or Koss Van Heiste first.