Count Me In is back.
Over the past season, Ireland’s Conor Swail has stepped the 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes) back from the top level and out of the usual spotlight. But Saturday night at the Las Vegas National CSI4*-W, the pair proved “Crosby” was back in top form.
“It’s incredible. The horse owes me nothing. He’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden,” Swail remarked after his winning performance in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas.
The win marks the third World Cup™ qualifier title on the horse’s already extensive list of accolades. The pair earned prior World Cup wins in Upper Marlboro, MD (2022) and Fort Worth, TX (2021) and made an appearance at the 2022 World Cup Finals. At the 1.60m height, they boast a 63% top 10 finish average and averages just 3.33 faults, according to Jumpr App.
Swail and Crosby would have been an easy pick for the win in Las Vegas considering their record. But looking at the horse’s recent performances, some might wonder if he was up for the difficult task that Olaf Petersen, Jr., set for the 28-horse field.
“We started out [this season] really well in Wellington; he won a CSI4* grand prix there, and that was just the usual for him,” explained Swail.
“Then we went through a little period there throughout the middle of the year where he wasn’t as comfortable jumping the bigger events, so we took a step back. We did a few smaller classes, a few 1.45m and 1.50m. He was very successful at those and more comfortable, so I thought I would just leave him doing those basically for the rest of the year.
“Then, lately at home, he was feeling better than he had been over the last few months, so I thought, ‘Let’s go to Vegas and give him another go at the World Cup.’ He was fantastic all week, obviously he won the qualifier as well. He was outstanding. He produced two great rounds there today. Honestly, he felt as good as he ever has, so I’m really delighted!”
Petersen Jr.’s demanding track saw three riders eliminated and another retire. The first clear didn’t come until Katie Laurie (AUS), 18th in the order. Five more combinations joined her to advance to the jump off, among them defending champion Lillie Keenan, Swail, Vanessa Mannix, Jill Humphrey, and Charlotte Jacobs.
“Tonight was absolutely world class. It was exactly the type of difficulty that they’re going to have when they get to the Final,” said Robert Ridland, president of the Las Vegas National’s host organization, Blenheim EquiSports.
When Swail returned for the short course, Laurie and Keenan had each dropped a rail.
“There were no clears before I came into the ring, but there were fast riders behind me,” said Swail. “I’m lucky enough that Crosby is very quick regardless, and he’s very careful, so I thought I would just stick to the plan and have a nice, tidy round there. It worked out very well for me.”
The duo crossed the timers clear 38.28 seconds. They were the only pair to post a sub-39 time to ultimately clinch the win.
Count Me In has over €1.5 million in career earnings (Jumpr App), the bulk of it earned since 2021 with Swail in the stirrups. The pair has earned 5* podium finishes in Aachen (GER), London (GBR), Calgary and Vancouver (CAN), Monterrey (MEX), Dublin (IRL), and Upper Marlboro and Wellington (USA) with Swail. In 2022, he took the Irish rider to his first World Cup Final in Leipzig.
“He’s brought me a lot of incredible days. He took me to basically the top 10 in the world. If he wanted to do 1.45m or 1.40m or he doesn’t want to jump anymore, that’s totally fine with me. Thankfully, he’s feeling really good again, and hopefully, he can do another little bit and we can stay going at this higher level.”
Mannix, who trains with Swail, produced the only other double clear effort on Lehar with a time of 39.49 to take second. USA’s Jill Humphrey and Chromatic BF finished third on four faults in 39.18.
Daniel Bluman (ISR) leads the North American League standings with 43 points. Swail’s win now puts him in second with 30 points, while Mannix sits third (30 points).
The North American League of the World Cup Series continues in Fort Worth (USA) on December 16 2023.