Ireland’s Swail storms to second World Cup win in-a-row while Michael Duffy scores double of victories at HOYS

Co Down's Conor Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque have recorded their second straight victory in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup North American League. Having taking a win last weekend in Vancouver (CAN), the duo recorded a second straight World Cup victory in Sacramento (USA) in the early hours of this morning. 

Swail and the enthusiastic 12-year-old gelding topped a thrilling four-horse jump-off in front of a packed crowd at the Murieta Equestrian Center. Swail shaved more than a second off Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Huberth B’s then-leading time to cross the line clear in 36.12 seconds.

“He was wonderful here tonight,” Swail said of his mount, who has now won five Grand Prix contests since June. “He was probably one of the favourites coming in. I’m delighted that he’s living up to the reputation he’s making for himself.”

Ballard settled for second with her brand-new mount, an impressive feat considering she’d only begun riding the eye-catching bay two weeks ago; their time was 37.25 seconds. Her student Natalie Dean (CAN) and the talented Cocolina finished third as the only other double-clear performers on a time of 43.09 seconds.

“Erynn put up a tough enough round that I thought it was going to be another tough test,” Swail said, “but [my horse] handled himself extremely well.”

Swail's World Cup results have now spanned two countries and two drastically different venues. In Vancouver, the duo navigated a spacious outdoor arena, while in Sacramento, they were met with a small, covered space. In both places, the pair delighted as Vital Chance de la Roque complemented his efforts over the fences with playful bucking in between the fences, a trend Swail has come to both expect and respect.

“[Vancouver] was outside, and [course designer Peter Holmes (CAN)] built it quite like an indoor track I thought, but it’s still a covered arena here, and the crowd is up against you,” Swail said. “[My horse] is answering every question, and the crowd were awesome tonight. It’s wonderful having people back [in the stands]. We get a thrill out of it as well.”

Swail now holds a commanding lead in the North American League with 37 points. Ballard and Rowan Willis (AUS) sit second and third, respectively, both with 17 points. The North American League next heads east to Tryon (USA) on October 30th. 

Back in Europe, it was a memorable night on Saturday for Galway's Michael Duffy at the Horse Of The Year Show in Birmingham where he recorded two major victories. Fresh from helping Ireland to a runner-up finish in last weekend's FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Duffy shared victory in the HOYS Puissance when riding RMF Charly. Britain's Joseph Trunkfield and Senators Rhondaigo were the only other combination to clear the wall at 7ft 2 in the final round. Earlier in the evening, Michael Duffy had also taken victory in the feature Grandstand Challenge Cup with Jeff Ten Halven.

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