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Swail Flies to Victory in CSIO5* North West Rubber Cup

May 31, 2018 — Conor Swail (IRL) caught a flyer to the last and came out on top in the $35,500 CSIO5* North West Rubber Cup at Thunderbird Show Park, on day two of the 2018 Odlum Brown BC Open in Langley, BC. The $235,000 Longines Grand Prix and $400,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup ™ of Canada highlight the 5* competition, taking place on Friday, June 1, and Sunday, June 3, respectively.

Swail, 46, rode the 10-year-old Domino van de Valhoeve to victory over an international field of 37. Of the 13 combinations to qualify for the jump-off over the 1.50m track designed by Peter Holmes (CAN), three elected not to return. Swail’s winning time was 35.77 seconds, while young rider Eve Jobs (USA) finished second with Venue d’Fees de Hazalles in a final time of 37.36 seconds. Karrie Rufer (USA) rounded out the podium with Georgie d’Auvray EC, jumping cleanly in 39 seconds flat.

“The horse is very fast and extremely careful, so I felt I could make the time up,” said Swail, who co-owns the horse with Vanessa Mannix (CAN). “[From fences] one to two, I was a little slower than I’d like, but I got a good rollback to the next jump. I probably had one to two seconds on everyone to the last, because I galloped forward, and I didn’t stop. I got a mad flyer to the last, which I think really helped me win in the end.”

Swail has had the ride on the bay since November after scouting him at a horse show in Europe and is excited about the gelding’s potential. He plans to jump him in the Longines Grand Prix, which will be the horse’s first test in a five-star grand prix.

“He’s been exceptional since I’ve had him,” Swail explained. “He’s so careful. He’s a little bit tricky to ride, but he’s unbelievably careful. He will not touch a jump. I feel he has enough scope as well that we can, in time, jump championships or whatever’s in front of him. It’s super exciting to have him. With the right management, we can have a great partnership.”

Swail will ride longtime mount Rubens LS when he represents Ireland in the Nations Cup on Sunday as he continues to build up Domino van de Valhoeve’s confidence.

“It’s the rideability,” he said, describing Domino van de Valhoeve. “He’s quite spooky. When he looks at things, he really shifts in all directions. Then, the canter gets a little difficult. That obviously snowballs into us getting into places we shouldn’t be in. So, it’s all about trying to keep him as calm as we can and putting him in the right places that he doesn’t get too careful. It’s about him getting confidence and him doing enough rounds that are comfortable for him, so when we go to that higher level, he’s as comfortable as he can be.”

By Catie Staszak for Thunderbird Show Park

Photos by Cara Grimshaw Photography/tbird

The Inaugural Vancouver Grand Prix

May 20, 2018

The Inaugural Vancouver Grand Prix

Vancouver – The downtown core of Vancouver B.C. got an exciting introduction to show jumping on Sunday. Right in the heart of the city, hosted by Thunderbird Show Park, the inaugural Vancouver Grand Prix brought the sport of show jumping straight to the people. With 500 tonnes of silica sand footing shipped in for the event, it was an opportunity for the city of Vancouver to experience the awe of show jumping up close.

Nineteen riders competed in the 1.40m Vancouver Grand Prix in a 90x175 foot ring. The field featured riders from Canada, USA, Ireland, Israel, and Netherlands. The riders brought their horses into the downtown location on Saturday and had the chance to ride around and help the horses adjust to their very different surroundings. On Sunday afternoon, the excitement in the crowd developed as the horses made their way out for competition. For many, it was their first time being so close to a horse.

The first round was over a course of ten jumps including a difficult combination out of a tight corner. Course designer Kirsten Rodel did a fantastic job of using the small space of the ring. The course gave the opportunity for riders to take risks, such as taking a jump on an angle. Rodel asked for just enough power from the horses where they couldn’t always get the pace because of the small space. The lines proved to tricky for the riders because if they missed their entry to the line, they were forced to add a stride or risk getting tight through the corner. Out of the 19 riders in the first round, 11 went clear and returned for the jump-off.

American Kyle King, riding Christian, an eight-year-old Westphalian stallion, took the win from the jump-off. Ashlee Bond and Cornancer were the closest to his time of 29.91, coming in second with 30.65. In third was Kristen Senger, the top placed Canadian rider, with a time of 33.0.

The event was hosted by Thunderbird Show Park. The first of its kind in Vancouver, bringing the sport of show jumping to the downtown core. It was a free event and for most spectators, their first exposure to the sport. Thunderbird will be host to the third leg of the Longines FEI Nations Cup in Langley on June 3rd where we look forward to cheering on teams Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, and Ireland.









Photography by Cara Grimshaw for Tbird