Conor Swail (Wellington, FL) and Koss Van Heiste claimed a win in the $25,000 Tryon Resort Sunday Classic at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) after clearing the jump-off in 35.49 seconds, also grabbing reserve with Count Me In on a time of 36.2 seconds. It was a winning week for Swail, who dominated Saturday evening’s $73,000 Cleghorn Gun Club Grand Prix CSI 2* aboard Vital Chance de la Roque, as well as Friday’s $6,000 Speed Stake CSI 2* with Theo 160. Though Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque didn’t win the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 2* Thursday, they did collect reserve honors to set themselves up for a win under the lights in Tryon Stadium.
Sunday’s $25,000 Tryon Resort Sunday Classic one-two finish was icing on the cake for Swail after a victorious week, and he walked into the ring aboard Count Me In, the 2007 Hanoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes), with only himself to beat. The Guilherme Jorge course design tested 24 entries in the first round, with only one pair challenging Swail’s two jump-off mounts: Harold Chopping (Southern Pines, NC) and Geronimo SCF, the 2011 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Veron x Mary Louise) owned by Diane Halpin, who earned third place on a time of 37.093.
Swail was first to test the jump-off track with Koss Van Heiste, the 2010 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Breemeersen Adorado x Contact Van de Heffinck) owned by Eadaoin Aine Ni Choileain, an experienced and longtime ride of his. They could have had an even faster round than their winning time, Swail admitted: “It wasn’t the round I wanted, to be honest. I wanted to be a little quicker than that! I gave Harold a little window there.” After Chopping finished his clear round with the leaderboard unchanged, however, Swail was free to ride Count Me In, a mount he’s been riding for only a few weeks, to a clear round and second place.
“It’s nice when you’re going [into the ring] last and you know that you’ve won the class anyway,” Swail admitted. “He’s a new horse to me, so I just didn’t over-ride him too much, and I had a nice round on him. We’re just getting to know each other a little better, and trying to build a good relationship and trust each other. That’s the first bigger class I’ve done on him, so I’m very pleased with him.”
For Swail, his recent winning streak is just one reason to love competing at TIEC, he detailed: “I have a very good group of horses and I feel like they’re all just starting to peak at the right time. Every week I jump them here in Tryon, I feel like they are growing in confidence and they’re getting better and better.
“When we go in the ring, we are trying to educate them to do all of the right things, do them well, and do them as easily and comfortably as possible,” Swail explained of his goals as a rider. “I feel that this is a great facility to do that, where there’s great flatting areas. Down in the back you have the cross-country course, which is really nice for them also. The facility is wonderful to be able to produce your horse here.”
Otherwise, Swail concluded that the venue has always been a good one for him and that sometimes, everything just comes together. “It was a good finish to an unbelievable week for me. I like it here, and the horses seem to like it here,” he said. “You have some shows that you have good luck and other shows you don’t have as much luck, and TIEC seems to be one of those lucky shows for me. I’ve won a 5* Grand Prix here, I’ve won a 3*, and a 2*. It’s been good to me… long may it continue!”
Full results here.