Conor Swail in winning form at Caledon. Ph. Ben Radvanyi
Susan and Ariel Grange and their pair of Irish riders kept their impressive streak going during week two of the outdoor show season at the Caledon Equestrian Park, May 17-22.
After winning both international ranking classes at the Classic in the Palgrave Phase 1 CSI2* last week, Conor Swail repeated the feat this week at the Caledon National CSI2*.
Swail and his beautiful winter stables are featured in the current issue of NOELLE FLOYD Magazine. Read it online at this link.
Swail captured the $35,000 FEI Open Welcome, presented by RAM Equestrian, on Thursday, May 19th, and followed that up with his fourth win of the season in the CASE IH $50,000 FEI Jumper Classic on Saturday, May 21st.
He added his third win of the week and fifth of the season in Sunday’s $20,000 Modified Grand Prix, presented by Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals, riding Ariana — a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare — again owned by Grange.
His countryman and Lothlorien teammate, Daniel Coyle, also added to his resume with a win in the Canadian debut of the Under 25 Young Rider Development Series. Coyle was also champion in the Modified Grand Prix the previous week.
Between the pair, they’ve made it a clean sweep for Grange and Lothlorien over the first two weeks, winning all seven showcase classes to date.
In a thrilling finish in Saturday’s Grand Prix, Swail steered Susan and Arial Grange’s mount Cita to a slim victory in the jump-off, outpacing Ian Millar and Teddy du Bosquetieu by a just a fourteenth of second to take top prize.
Brazilian course designer Marina Azevedo gave the field a run for their money, with just one rider going clear through the first 12 trips in the class, which featuring 19 competitors. Riders began to get a feel for the course as the class went on, with four more qualifying for the jump-off in the final seven.
Swail had two entries in the class. His first go-round was on week-one Grand Prix-winning mount Grafton — a 10-year-old Selle Francais stallion — also owned by Grange.
“The first round the time seemed to be a factor. [Azevedo] had it quite tight, there weren’t so many places to make the time up. It made it a bit of a squeeze and it took awhile for the clears to come, but in the end there was a nice amount,” said Swail.
“My mare jumped very well again today,” added Swail. “Just one to two, I thought it took way too much time, so I knew the second time around I had to step it up a bit. After that I was good to the double, had a reasonable roll back and then didn’t even get the (line) I wanted to the third-last vertical, but we did the rest of the numbers and I was good to the last.”
“I just knew I left the door open a bit there and with Ian (Millar) going last I thought he had me, to be honest. But thankfully he was on the wrong side of me… I think he knew the door was open, too, and gave me a good run. But thankfully today was my day.”
Swail also rode Cita, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare, to victory in Thursday’s $35,000 FEI Open Welcome, presented by RAM Equestrian.
“She’s been the most consistent even though the other two have been grabbing the headlines.”
“It was the other two (Grafton and Dillinger) who won last week, but think she (Cita) had a second and third last week. So she has gone second-third-first-first,” he said. “She’s been the most consistent even though the other two have been grabbing the headlines.”
On hand for the ribbon presentations representing new sponsors CASE IH, were Robert and Michelle Meier and Hugh and Annette Snodden. CASE IH has provided a new fleet of top-of-the-line equipment for ring and park maintenance for the season.
Coyle followed up his win last week in the $15,000 Modified Grand Prix, presented by Albion Golf Cars, by claiming top prize in the Canadian debut of the Under 25 Young Rider Development Series, a $20,000 class presented by Martha Younger and BDF Equestrian.
Coyle outduelled a field of 24 riders on Lothlorien mount Fortis Fortuna, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood Mare.
“It’s a great class for everybody,” said 21-year-old Coyle. “I suppose it went my way. I have a couple of horses I’m trying to develop to the next level, so it’s a great class for me.”
The Under 25 Young Rider Development Series is the brainchild of Equine Canada, led by Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill, who will be overseeing the series and was on hand to present Coyle with the red ribbon.
“The Talent Squad Series, which held its finals at the Royal Winter Fair, just wasn’t working anymore,” said Underhill. ”And where the sport is going in North America and Europe is that under 25 age group.”
“We’re really trying to start, not just with the group you saw today, but right at the pony level, encouraging kids to get involved in the jumpers and really strive to start building their experience and competition level throughout the jumpers,” she added.
Competitors on the circuit are allowed to use their top-six results over the season and then 20 riders will qualify for the finals at the Royal. Sixteen Canadian and four (international) wildcards spots are up for grabs. There is also a final in Kentucky in the U.S. and two Canadians from the circuit will be invited to participate in that event.
“I think the more we create good sport and good competition, with people from all over the world, that’s what raises the bar and increases kids’ level of experience and understanding of what it takes to be successful in this sport at the next level,” said Underhill.
Swail and Ariana closed out the Caledon National CSI2* by edging out Caledon’s Erynn Ballard and Angelstone Partners’ Sombrero Brimbelles for the red ribbon in a three-way jump-off. Swail also qualified for the second round on EAX Run Run LS, an 8-year-old Banc de Salle stallion owned by Swail himself.
Lothlorien, Swail and Coyle will be back at the Caledon Equestrian Park next week looking to keep the good times rolling during the second phase of the Classic @ Palgrave Phase 2, May 24-29.
Limited results list can be found at this link.