Ireland’s Conor Swail rode Fortis Fortuna to a blazing time of 33.669 seconds in The Ridge at Wellington’s 1.40m Grand Prix at Tonkawa Farms to snatch up the win today. Not only did Swail secure the first place, but he also guided his other mount, Tahiti Island, to the third place finish, proving that his winning streak is more than just the luck of the Irish. It was Olympian Laura Kraut and Zeremonie that followed close behind, breaking the beam in 33.819 seconds to take the second place finish, just narrowly missing Swail’s time.
Swail set an early lead this morning at Tonkawa Farms, riding to the top finishes with his two mounts. He left nothing to chance as he guided Fortis Fortuna, owned by Sue and Ariel Grange, to the jump-off time of 33.669 seconds. He followed only three trips later with Tahiti Island, owned by Conan and Becky Conway, to rank second with an equally impressive, but more conservative round in 36.720 seconds.
“It is another different venue, and the footing is fantastic. It is a beautiful, beautiful setting. It is the same each week at the shows; it is nice to have a place like The Ridge,” Swail said. “At The Ridge, your horses can get a great education, enjoy beautiful courses and compete at a different venue every week. Each venue has its own unique style, so it is really beneficial to bring your horses here and compete for some nice prize money, too.”
Swail continued, “Fortis Fortuna is a very nice horse who has done a few of these classes now, and today she had a very fast round. I think it would be hard to beat our time. We got a little lucky today, which is never bad. Hopefully I posted a score that will stand. It’s there to beat, but she jumped great and did everything I asked her to do. Wherever that gets me, I’m happy with that.”
Their time held strong as consecutive competitors attempted to catch it without avail. Only eight horse and rider combinations were able to jump double clear, but Olympian Laura Kraut was prepared to add some heat to the competition, showing Zeremonie to the last clear jump-off round of the day. For the first time since Swail posted the path finding time, it seemed as though defeat was a possibility.
Kraut took all the inside turns, keeping a tight track as she navigated Nick Granat’s course. She even left out strides; however, the clock would stop .15 seconds off Swail’s pace.
“This is the second time that I have jumped Zeremonie at The Ridge,” Kraut said of the grey mare. “She did really well the first time we jumped on the turf at the Wanderer’s Club, and she seems to really love the grass. She jumped great out there today — she was super. I am so happy that we came here. We heard rumours that the footing was amazing, and they were right, it is. It is so nice for the horses, it feels like they are jumping on a trampoline.”
Darrin Dilin and Carlotta Singular would capture the fourth place just behind Swail and Tahiti Island. They rode to the time of 37.671 seconds without fault. Sarah Wayda and Faroukh finished fifth, while the first rider of the day, Sayre Happy, rounded out the top six with Big Star.