IRELAND’S Conor Swail began the third week of competition at the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Florida just as he left off in week two, with another trip to the winner’s circle.
After topping Sunday’s $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Susan and Ariel Grange’s Martha Louise, Co. Down-born Swail won last night’s (Wednesday) $34,000 FEI 1.45m speed class aboard his own Simba de la Roque.
Fellow Irish rider Shane Sweetnam finished fourth in 55.90 seconds aboard Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Cyklon. Swail and Simba de la Roque finished well ahead of the 62 other competitors with the fastest round of the day in 53.06 seconds.
While Swail proudly capped off week two with his 1.50m win on Martha Louise, Wednesday’s win was special for the rider in a different way, competing a horse that he owns himself.
“I bought him in November, and he has just jumped four times,” Swail said of Simba de la Roque. “I did a 1.30m schooling class and then a 1.40m jump-off and he was double clear. I did another 1.45m and he won that, and this was his next class and he has won that as well.”
Swail bought Simba de la Roque, a non year-old gelding, from French rider Marie Hecart, whose father bred the horse.
“He is a lovely horse,” Swail stated. “Marie had some good results with him as an eight-year-old, and so far, so good with me. He is very fast. He seems to have plenty of power, and he has a big stride.”
Swail looks forward to developing his partnership with Simba de la Roque throughout the winter and hopes to step the horse up to the next level.
“He will do the next 1.45m and maybe the 1.50m this week,” he noted. “It is just a learning curve. I think there is a lot more left in him and once we get to know each other he could possibly do a few 1.50m classes and maybe even a little more. He is a very exciting horse to have, and it is nice to own him myself too.”
Week three of the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival continues on Thursday with the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 in the International Arena at the Palm Beach Equestrian Centre.
The week’s feature event is the $127,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday, January 24. The 12-week WEF circuit continues until March 29, awarding over $8.2 million in prize money.