To say Conor Swail is at home at Thunderbird Showpark might be an understatement. The defending champion of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Vancouver continued his winning ways at Langley by capturing the $75,000 CSI4*-W Maui Jim Welcome Stake Thursday with Rubens LS La Silla. The victory marks the Irishman’s fourth in fewer than two weeks at tbird.
Swail and the 12-year-old Selle Francais stallion laid down a deceptively fast round to win the 1.45-meter speed class, leaving out strides throughout and crossing the timers in 70.61 seconds. Just behind the winning pair were Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado and Tino la Chapelle, who completed the course in 70.99 seconds. Shawn Casady and Durango VDL rounded out the podium in third with a time of 71.44 seconds.
“It was a nice win, and I’m delighted for the horse. I thought he jumped fantastic tonight,” Swail said.
The track, designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade, saw only eight clear rounds. Swail’s winning performance didn’t come until the penultimate trip in a competitive field of 50.
“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,” Swail said. “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 has proved to be a versatile mount, having contributed to a winning effort for Team Ireland in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Canada at tbird in May after returning to Swail’s string following a sale last year.
“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.”