When the margins are this thin, and the riders are this good, sometimes less than a second means the difference between winning and losing. And that’s exactly how it went for Ireland’s Conor Swail who edged out American Laura Kraut for top spot in the $33,000 Jolera International Jumper Welcome at the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show tonight.
Riding 11th in a starting order of 18, Swail and his mount Game Ready executed a flawless round with a razor-sharp inside rollback to the blue vertical at fence five, which was clearly the deciding factor in their victory tonight.
“It was really all about numbers. You had to be thinking ahead and just making sure you had everything really nice and smooth,” explained Swail. “As much as I’m happy I won, I’m just delighted with how smooth the round was.”
Swail, who has only been riding Susan Grange’s Game Ready since January, mentioned it has taken the pair a few months to really come together.
“We took a little while to gel as he has his own way. He can be quirky, but we are definitely thinking on the same wavelength now which is good because he’s had a great run. We won the World Cup at Harrisburg, so he’s coming into Toronto in good form.”
Tonight’s runner-up Laura Kraut won this class a year ago, but was pleased nonetheless with her second-place finish tonight.
“My horse did everything I asked of him,” said Kraut. “I’d say I lost because my plan just got away a little bit. He came in a little bit on edge. We showed in Washington but then he had a week off, so he was a little keyed up. But he was wonderful tonight.”
Today was not a complete loss however, as Kraut also took top honours in this afternoon’s $20,000 International Power & Speed with Bonito R, again just edging out runner-up and fellow American McLain Ward and Czardas 30. Swail competed Ariana in the class to take the third, while young Canadian Jordan MacPherson of Toronto picked up her first international division ribbon finishing fourth with Aanwinst.
The Royal also played host to two special Hunter Derby Finals this evening – the $25,000 Hogan’s Inn Hunter Derby and the $25,000 Knightwood Hunter Derby.
Hugh Graham truly showed off the handiness of Kingridge Stables’ Judgement Day 3E to win the Hogan’s Inn Hunter Derby with a score of 105.00, while Carolynne Jardine’s Prudence jumped so athletically for Ashley McInnis the pair scored a 108.00 to take the Knightwood class.
Tomorrow night’s Royal Horse Show features one of the highlights of this year’s Royal – the $100,000 Hickstead FEI World CupTM Grand Prix presented by GroupBy. The class was renamed in honour of Eric Lamaze’s Olympic champion mount from the 2008 Olympic games, Hickstead, who passed away suddenly in 2011.