Conor Swail Speeds to Victory in $32,000 CSI2* Welcome Stake at Blenheim EquiSports

by | Apr 5, 2024 | Featured, Press Releases

Conor Swail (pictured aboard Count Me In) led the victory gallop for the $32,000 CSI2* Welcome Stake. Photo by McCool Photography

April 5, 2024 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – Ireland’s Conor Swail has started the 2024 Blenheim EquiSports season the same way he ended the 2023 season: winning.

On Friday, April 5, Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque sped to victory in the $32,000 CSI4* Welcome Speed Stake to kick off the weekend at the Blenheim Spring Classic I, held at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

On their way to the win, Swail and “Vinny” were one of 28 entries to take on the one-round class designed by Jaime Morillo and built on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field. When the pair entered the ring as the 10th in the order, the time to beat had been set at 58.98 seconds by fellow Irishman James Chawke aboard Daido van’t Ruytershof Z.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

Conor Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque.  Photo by McCool Photography

“Vanessa [Mannix], James [Chawke] and Alexis [Sokolov] as well, we all work together…I was lucky enough that I saw James’ round right before mine,” said Swail, who, during the 2023 Blenheim EquiSports season, capped off the year with victory in the $226,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas aboard Count Me In. “I thought [James] had a very, very quick round. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to beat him to be honest.”

And Swail nearly did not, but as he crossed the final vertical the timers flashed 58.68 seconds, making him just three-tenths of a second faster – even with a few of Vinny’s signature bucks thrown in.

“I knew I had to really be on every stride, but thankfully Vinny has a lot of experience. He jumped a good round today,” concluded Swail of his win aboard his 12-year-old Selle Français gelding.

With Swail taking the win and Chawke in second place, third went to the USA’s Michael Williamson who crossed the finish in 60.70 seconds aboard his own Call Me Baby Quick PS.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

Conor Swail in his winning presentation. Photo by McCool Photography

Also earning an FEI win already this week at the Blenheim Spring Classic 1 was Australia’s Zoe Brown. The 19-year-old topped Thursday’s $5,000 CSI2* Power & Speed Two Phase with a time of 31.41 seconds aboard Bling VD Duvelshoeve Z. Second place in the class with a time of 31.94 seconds went to Williamson and Call Me Baby Quick PS, and third place went to Kyle King and Vivalunaika Blue.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

Zoe Brown and Bling VD Duvelshoeve Z. Photo by McCool Photography

Competition at the Blenheim Spring Classic I continues through April 7, with highlights including Sunday’s $62,000 CSI2* Blenheim Spring Classic Grand Prix beginning at 2 p.m. Spectator admission is free throughout the duration of the horse show, with VIP passes also available on a daily or weekly basis. To learn more about the VIP Medal Club, click here