Swail Steals the Spotlight in $146,000 Bainbridge Companies CSI3* Grand Prix
World number five rider Conor Swail (IRL) claimed the final international victory during the second week of the 2023 Spring Series, presented by Florida Coast Equipment, at Equestrian Village in Wellington, FL. He and Casturano stormed to a win in the $146,000 Bainbridge Companies CSI3* Grand Prix. The victory was a special one for the combination, as it was their first FEI grand prix win together.
“He’s an amazing horse; very careful. Today is the biggest that he has jumped, and I thought the class was tough, but the horse really excelled not only today but all week,” said Swail, who took over the ride on Casturano early this year when he was purchased by Mannon Farm. “We competed in California this past winter season in the 1.35m and 1.40m classes and we moved up gradually and did a few national grand prix classes then a few FEI shows. He has had a bit of a break for a few weeks, and this is his first show in Wellington with me. It’s a great start. I think he’s a special horse and a wonderful addition to my string.”
Course designer Ana Catalina “Catsy” Cruz (MEX) crafted a winding opening track for the thirty-six entries, with eight riders posting clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Swail was sixth to punch a ticket for the tiebreaker and was up against a time to beat of 41.72 seconds set by U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington.
“In the jump-off, I honestly was thinking I wouldn’t be able to beat Kent,” Swail admitted. “[Casturano] isn’t normally that quick because he jumps so high over the jumps, but there was a lot of room to gallop, and we were going so quickly it kept him from overjumping as much as he normally does. It was a great round from him.”
As Swail crossed the timers with Casturano, the clock showed they were nearly two tenths of a second ahead in 41.57 seconds. Of the two riders left to chase Swail down, fellow Irishman Jordan Coyle came the closest to finish in third with For Gold, owned by Falkirk Farm. Farrington settled for second with his own Orafina.
Although Swail is uncertain what the future holds for Casturano, he is certain the horse will be competitive at whatever level he settles at. “I am pushing him a little bit just to see how he manages with the height. At the minute, he’s giving me all the right answers, going about his job and doing it extremely well. I don’t know how big he’s going to go but I’m hoping he ends up going all the way.” Three-star FEI competition will return to Equestrian Village’s prestigious derby field next week for the ESP Spring III Show.
Swail Steals the Spotlight in $146,000 Bainbridge Companies CSI3* Grand Prix (wellingtoninternational.com)