Irishman Conor Swail has a new mount and a good problem.

Casturano, previously campaigned by Canada’s Samantha Buir, is a 10-year-old German Warmblood with a tendency to over jump—and consistently. In fact, when Swail first tried the horse, it was the primary thing he was examining.

“He goes a bit high in the ring,” explained the world no. 5, “like kind of too high, which obviously high is good but when you’re going so high, it’s not so good. You can’t jump 2.10m over a 1.50m [fence].”

Casturano, evidence suggests, begs to differ.

©DIHP/Tori Bilas
©DIHP/Tori Bilas
©DIHP/Megan Giese Photography

The bay gelding joined Swail’s string at the beginning of 2023 after countryman and colleague James Chawke (IRL) brought the horse to his attention.

Sam Buirs was riding him all last year and has produced him extremely well. James said, ‘I think you should go and sit on that horse.’ And, thankfully I did,” said Swail. “We started off very well together and we seem to get on very well. I’m really excited about him, to be honest. I think he’s going to be a very big part of my string.”

The Irish rider has every reason to be optimistic, too. The pair has been competing in national classes at Desert International Horse Park for the past two months. They won the Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series 1.35m Week II of the Desert Circuit and have logged podium finishes in seven of nine classes between January and February. This week’s CSI3* in Thermal, CA marks their first international appearance together—and their first international victory.

On Saturady, Swail and Casturano topped a five-horse jump off in the Joey-Rycroft designed Kask CSI3* Classic 1.50m by using the horse’s “weakness” to their advantage in a risky inside turn from an oxer to a vertical in the jump off.

“He goes straight up and down, so I thought, right, this is a good time for him to do that because we’re going to be landing just nice and quiet so I can get back to the next one,” shared Swail. The pair stopped the clock in 37.79 seconds.

Only one other rider attempted the turn, pathfinder Kyle King, who finished third with Cerolino in 38.93. Australia’s Katie Laurie and Django II took second by just two hundredths of a second, crossing the timers in 38.91.

Feature image: ©DIHP/Megan Giese Photography