Show jumper Conor Swail notched up his third win in a fortnight in Florida on Sunday, taking top prize in the $34,000 Suncast Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Swail saddled up Ariel and Susan Grange’s mare Martha Louise and was one of six from 34 starters in the 1.50mtr contest to make the jump-off. The Swedish warmblood is newly returned to competition, having been laid off since September, yet showed no sign of cobwebs, giving the Co Down rider a generous 1.25 seconds winning margin over American Brianne Goutal (Wirma)
Last week, Swail proved unbeatable in the $15,000 1.4mtr Grand Prix at The Ridge at Wellington’s Turf Tour aboard Ms Grange’s Dilinger, while the previous week, he claimed the top spot on Fortis Fortuna.
Sunday’s competition saw Tipperary’s Kevin Babington ride the Obos Quality offspring Mark Q to sixth place, while another Irish Sport Horse, Heracross, formerly owned by Corkman John Murphy, and winner of the Millstreet Boomerang in 2007 under Francis Connors, placed seventh with American Paris Sellon.
Swail felt he gave Martha Louise the chance to show her class, making up for some disappointments in the run up.
“We started her off last week, and she jumped very well,” Swail said. “She probably should have been second in the grand prix last week, but I made a little mistake on her. Then she jumped a good first half of the WEF (Challenge Cup) on Thursday. It was a little bit disappointing in the second half of it, but then you go away and you think about what could be better. I think I rode her a little better and gave her a little more confidence and today she was totally amazing. I thought she was great.”
Commenting on his jump-off, Swail said: “ I knew it was going to be close. Brianne jumped very well. I would say if she had gotten a good shot to the last fence there she would have been close to beating me.”
He was especially happy to cap off an excellent week for the Granges. Their horse, Dixson, was second in the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup on Thursday, before claiming Saturday’s $50,000 Grand Prix, with Canada’s Ian Millar coming out ahead of third-placed Cian O’Connor on Quidam’s Cherie.
“Sue and Ariel Grange, have had a great week. They were second in the WEF, they won the grand prix, they have now won the 1.50mtr, so they could not really ask for much of a better week. We have great horses and we have a good team of people.”
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