Conor Swail (IRL) isn’t the one you want to be up against going into speed competition. As the speed master he is, the Irishman took the win aboard Theo 160 in Friday’s $38,700 Pomponio Ranch CSI3* 1.50m Speed at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP).

Conor Swail (IRL) and Theo 160. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

For much of the class, it appeared that Swail might win aboard his first mount, Vital Chance De La Roque. The duo took an early lead, going fourth in the order and capturing a time of 58.68 seconds. While pairs attempted to unseat him, rails came down and the leaderboard remained unchanged.

When Swail came in aboard Theo 160, the horse that took second in this very class during week two and first in the CSI3* Grand Prix, he knew his chances were good to finish one-two. He overtook his own lead, crossing the timers in 58.01 seconds and capturing the top two spots. Only Kyle King (USA) was there to switch things up, claiming second-place honors aboard Sig Chiari, owned by Sig International, Inc.

Conor Swail (IRL) in his winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I was super happy with Theo,” Swail remarked. “I’d had a good round already with [Vital Chance]. At that point, actually, I was still leading. So I thought, ‘How do I play it out with Theo?’ He’s quick enough that I decided just to have another go at it. It was a great round, and I was very pleased.”

Swail has put more and more trust in 11-year-old Theo 160 recently, letting him use his stride and scope to their advantage, omitting strides in risky places. “He is very brave,” Swail reflected. “Even if you’re running a little fast at the jump, he’s always going to try and be careful at it. I trust him. Thankfully he’s pulling out all the stops for me, so it’s great.”

Kyle King (USA) and Sig Chiari. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Not to be forgotten, 14-year-old Vital Chance De La Roque put in his best effort as well, with hopes of a strong performance in Sunday’s CSI3* Gillibrand Sand Grand Prix. “I was super happy with ‘Vinny’ today,” Swail continued. “I thought he was so good. He hasn’t jumped there in about a month, so this is his first show back and he felt super good. We’ll have a nice run on Sunday and see what happens.”

The luck of the Irish is quite strong this season in the desert, but it’s been a streak of luck for the past few years with Swail and his top mounts. “I’m lucky enough at the minute; I have a string of small, fast horses,” he said. “They’re so much fun. They run along very quickly, you can turn quickly, and they think quickly. But I’ve had a lot of bigger, slower ones as well. At the moment, I have a great group of very fast, competitive horses that are able to jump at the highest level, so I’m really reaping the benefits at the moment.”

Conor Swail (IRL) and Vital Chance De La Roque. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Show jumping continues Saturday with the $50,000 El Cristiano Grand Prix and the $38,700 CSI3* Morning Star Sporthorses 1.45m Classic.

Final Results: $38,700 CSI3* Pomponio Ranch 1.50m Speed

1. THEO 160: 2012 HOLST gelding by Christian 25 x Calando IV
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Team Philippaerts: 0/58.01

2. SIG CHIARI: 2012 OS gelding by Cristallo II x Landadel
KYLE KING (USA), SIG International: 0/58.64

3. VITAL CHANCE DE LA ROQUE: 2009 SF gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Rivage du Poncel
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Conor Swail: 0/58.68

4. CLARITY: 2009 HOLST gelding by Clarimo x Ephebe For Ever
GREGORY WATHELET (BEL), An Breeding: 0/58.90

5. KARDENTA VAN’T MEERHOF: 2010 BWP mare by Cardento x Concorde
ELISA BROZ (USA), Hidalgo LLC: 0/59.11

6. NADALE VAN DORPERHEIDE: 2013 BWP gelding by Zilverstar T x Winningmood
CASSIO RIVETTI (BRA), Ilan Ferder: 0/61.99

7. CARISSIMO 25: 2013 HOLST gelding by Cascadello x Clinton
MAVIS SPENCER (USA), Georgy Maskrey-Segesman: 0/62.38

8. ALGORHYTHEM: 2005 KWPN gelding by Eurocommerce Tampa x Calvados
MARIE VALDAR LONGEM (NOR), Marie Valdar Longem: 0/66.69

9. MR. EUROPE: 2009 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Cassini
KARRIE RUFER (USA), Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC: 0/72.00

10. BONITA VH KEIZERSHOF Z: 2011 ZANG mare by Bustique x For Pleasure
ALI RAMSAY (CAN), Ramsay Equestrian Inc.: 4/59.40

11. CACTUS DE COSNIERE: 2012 SF gelding by Padock Du Plessis x Flipper D’Elle
ERIC KRAWITT (CAN), Eric Krawitt: 4/60.55

12. COPYCAT: 2013 WESTF gelding by Comme Il Faut x Wogenbrecher
LORCAN GALLAGHER (IRL), Lost Lake Farm LLC: 4/61.72

Nick Haness Proves to be Triple Threat in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open

Professional Hunter Nick Haness is accustomed to winning national hunter derbies by this point, but it’s not every day he takes all of the top three spots. With three rides in Friday’s $10,000 Adequan® USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open, Haness dominated the podium, taking the win aboard Reese’s, second with Crowd Pleaser, and third with Notorious, all owned by West Coast Equine Partners, LLC.

Nick Haness and Reese’s. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“He’s one of my favorite horses,” Haness said of Reese’s, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding. “I bought him in Europe as a 5-year-old. He’s a true partner in the show arena. He thinks what I think. He just follows what I’m thinking and knows what I’m thinking at all times. He’s super smart, and he’s a competitor. He definitely knows the difference between the schooling ring and the show ring. He changes his whole demeanor and wants to show off and impress the judges, which he always does. He’s a great partner, an amazing horse, and he’s been horse of the year in the national derbies so he’s used to these classes and so great at them.”

The courses for the day presented new and unique challenges, one of which included a box of two double combinations at one end of the ring. “It was pretty fun,” Haness said of the handy course. “On my first horse, Notorious, I decided to take an inside turn to the first jump, which I wanted to test on him to see how it would play out for my next two horses. It was very tight and it was a hard turn so I chose to go around on my next two.”

Putting in the flair and style he needed, Haness earned a score of 92 in the handy round to combine with his 94 in the first round, awarding Reese’s the lead with a 186 total. “Reese’s was in really good shape today,” he remarked. “He followed me everywhere really beautifully and landed all his leads perfectly.”

Nick Haness and Reese’s, joined by Crowd Pleaser and Notorious. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Though the course did not present many opportunities for inside turns, Haness knew exactly where he would make up those necessary handy points, taking full advantage of the angles the course presented and letting Reese’s open his stride to hand gallop to the last. “I always like to be bold and gallop almost the whole course with [Reese’s],” Haness continued. “He likes a bit of pace and jumps better. There weren’t too many places to make inside choices so I tried to make up for handiness in my pace and meeting the jumps on an angle.”

Hunter and jumper rings alike feature many new fences this week custom built by Mihai Simion. “The ring looks beautiful,” Haness noted. “The new jumps are great, they’re very interesting, and I think it’s nice to refresh and have a new look in the arena for the horses.”

Avery Glynn was the big winner in the $10,000 Whittier Trust USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur, taking top honors aboard Prost, owned by Hope Glynn. Her sky-high first-round score of 94 put her in a convincing lead,and her handy round score of 90.5 sealed the deal.

“I was second on [Prost] week one, to another horse we had,” Glynn shared. “I say it’s a joke that he was sad he didn’t win the first week. This week he was the winner!”

Glynn’s relationship with Prost, or “Doodle” in the barn, has grown over the past few months as the horse has been in her stable.

“I know Doodle pretty well because my Mom owns him, and he’s the sweetest and most honest horse ever,” Glynn, 17, continued. “I was lucky enough to have another ride that went early in the class, so I had already gone around the course once. I just wanted to stick to my plan of forward and flowing around the course. He’s really good about landing both leads, which I would say is helpful in derby courses where there are lots of bending lines. I think he likes when the jumps are a little more full, like the wall. It is something new.”

Glynn is making waves in the jumper ring as well, welcoming a brand-new partner to the horse park, and the country, this week. “My mom generously just bought me a jumper in Europe, who just got here,” Glynn shared. “That’s an early 18th birthday present for me, and I’m so excited to meet her! I’m hoping to bring her down here towards the end of the circuit, get to know her and maybe compete in some of the Junior Jumper classes.”

On her goals for the rest of the circuit, Glynn said, “I want to stay consistent in the jumpers and equitation. My goal would be to [finish well] in the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship at the end. This is my last year to compete in it, so I want to have a really positive Ronnie Mutch experience. Overall, I’d like to stay consistent in all of the rings.”

Avery Glynn was awarded a brand-new fence from Sky-Hi Industries. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

For Avery’s win, owner and trainer Hope Glynn was awarded a brand-new fence from Sky-Hi Industries as the trainer of the winning horse.

Final Results: $10,000 Adequan® USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open

1. Reeses / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC / 94 + 92 = 186
2. Crowd Pleaser / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC / 92 + 93 = 185
3. Notorious / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC / 89 + 94 = 183
4. Honorably / Karli Schroeder / Jean K Reichle / 88 + 91 = 179
5. My Oh My / Morgan Thomas / Allison Talbot / 87 + 82 = 169
6. First Class / Skylar Wireman / Nick Haness / 84 + 84 = 168
7. Barclay Square / Erin Duffy / Volant Stables / 80.75 + 87 = 167.75
8. Jackpot Lee / Chad Mahaffey / Brighton Farms / 86 + 77 = 163
9. Kona / Alexis Taylor / Nicole McNichols / 81.5 + 81
10. Picnic / Katrina Karazissis / Lisa Hankin / 85 + 48 = 133
11. Django / Grace Belmont / Grace Belmont / 82 + 49 = 131
12. Fair Enough / Alexis Taylor / Aleron LLC / 81 + WD = 81

Final Results: $10,000 Whittier Trust USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur

1. Prost / Avery Glynn / Hope Glynn / 94 + 90.5 = 184.5
2. Juan Carlos / Irene Neuwirth / Irene Neuwirth / 92 + 91 = 183
3. Paperboy / Julia Greenspan / Brighton Farms / 86 + 89 = 175
4. Jadebridge / Jacqueline Attwood-Dupont / Jacqueline Attwood-Dupont / 88 + 86 = 174
5. Gran Cornetto / Peyten Seltzer / Alora Sporthorses LLC / 87.5 + 85 = 172.5
6. Swipe Right / Sophia Segesman / Mavis Spencer / 86.5 + 85 = 171.5
7. Totoka Fuji / Madison Nadolenco / Ingenium Farm / 85.75 + 84 = 169.75
8. Coconut Grove / Irene Neuwirth / Irene Neuwirth / 89 + 79 = 168
9. Four Point Oh / Kyle King / See Jane Edit LLC / 87 + 80 = 167
10. Arvantos / Greenley Achuck / Greenley Achuck / 84 + 82 = 166
11. First Mate KF / Jenna McAmis / Jenna McAmis / 82 + 77 = 159
12. Constantinos / Sophia Segesman / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman / 85.5 + 73 = 158.5