WELLINGTON, Fla.-Ireland’s Conor Swail on Count Me in w in the CHF216,000 ($232,595) CSI4* Grand Prix, the featured event on the grass derby field during the Winter Equestrian Festival Week 4 on Saturday, Feb.4.
The first to go clean in the opening round over a course designed by Anderson Lima 0f Brazil, Swail was first again in a five-horse jump-off.
“I’m lucky to have Crosby,” said Swail, currently ranked fifth in the world on the FEI rankings. “He’s a very fast horse. I was trying to give it a good go and put the other riders under enough pressure and hope that they would make mistakes. It was a tough track but fair I thought. I have an amazing horse and I hope his good form continues. This was our first time out this year and I must say I thought he felt fabulous.”
Count Me In has been enjoying a much-deserved break since a successful outing at the CHI Geneva 5* in December.
After spending a month in the paddock at Swail’s home base in Ireland, Count Me In came out strong to post a time that would lead the field by six full seconds, stopping the clock at 38.53 seconds.
U.S. OLYMPIC team gold medalist Laura Kraut on Confu finished second, and third went to Ashlee Bond of Israel with the fastest four-fault performance on Garfield.
“He does have a bit of nervous energy when we’re competing because he has so much quality, but he’s such a relaxed guy when he comes back in again (for the prize giving),” said Swail. “He is the horse of a lifetime for me and he’s changing my career, so hopefully we’ll get another few years together.”
Swail has returned to Florida to compete after spending time on the West Coast of the U.S. and is looking forward to the competition.
“If you’re winning here, you can win anywhere in the world,” he said. “It’s nice to come and compete against the best and – like today – it’s very rewarding.”
Mimi Gochman on Celina was fourth and Coyle on Carlyle was fifth.
Jacqueline Ruyle on Cyramo and Mckayla Langmeier on Jiselle NS won in CSI2* competitions on the derby field..
Ruyle on Cyramo won the CHF37,000 ($40,000) CSI2* 1.45m Grand Prix Qualifier over a 15-horse jump-off.
“Everything was very spread out; a gallop to two, the combination off a tight turn which we are pretty good at and a long gallop to three and four," said Ruyle. "It rode great and she tried so hard. I’ve had her a while, since she was 7 and she’s 13 now, so we’ve had a long time to build a strong partnership.”
Ireland’s Francis Derwin was second on Intuitive.
After a third-place finish on Friday with Chadina, Langmeier won Saturday’s CHF10,000 CIS2* 1.40m Speed.
In a 17 horse jump-off,, Langmeier on Jiselle NS,was the winner.