Conor Swail is widely regarded as Thunderbird Show Park’s winningest rider, and he wasted no time living up to that reputation at the Harvest Celebration.
On Friday in the Thunderbird Jumper Arena, Swail won a four-star event for the second day in a row.
In fact, he took the top two places in Friday afternoon’s $75,000 tbird Cup, a 1.50m speed contest set by Canadian course designer Peter Holmes.
After topping Thursday’s $75,000 Welcome with the 12-year-old Vital Chance de la Roque, the less experienced Theo 160 took his turn atop the podium, crossing the timers in 71.74 seconds.
Swail and “Vinny” finished second (72.82 seconds), while Swail’s student Vanessa Mannix (CAN) rode to third honors (73.83) aboard her longtime mount, Catinka 25.
“He’s such a nice horse,” Swail said of Theo. “He’s brave and careful, he’s nice and scopey and fast, so it’s everything. I’m really enjoying riding him and developing him.”
Swail and Team Philippaerts’ 9-year-old gelding had a breakout summer in Langley, winning three CSI3* classes in the span of just two weeks at the Summer Fort Classic and Summer Fort Festival. The liver chestnut has rested since.
“He’s just learning the game,” Swail said. “He was exceptional here at Thunderbird in August, and he’s had a little break, and this is his first show back. After three weeks, he’s started where he left off.”
Swail owns the gelding in partnership with members of the Philippaerts family, who helped make the pairing in February. Previously, the Philippaerts owned the horse with Nicole Mestrom (NED), who acquired him from his breeder, Jenny Abrahamson.
“Now that I have him, there’s quite a few people that say ‘You know, I know that horse. I like that horse. I tried to buy that horse,’” Swail said. “So, he certainly had a reputation before he came here. It is very nice that he’s continued to grow with me. He looks like a super competitive, lovely horse.”
Competition at the Harvest Celebration continued Saturday with the $15,000 Winning Round 1.45m and the $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 League 1.40m.
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