Conor Swail and GK Coco Chanel won the $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 CSI 3* at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida, on Friday night, following on the previous success of Darragh Kenny at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Though the $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 actually began on Thursday with 75 of the 91 competitors contesting, the class was postponed due to inclement weather meaning the final 16 combinations concluded their first round on Friday.
With only seven entries advancing to the jump-off round, Colombia’s Daniel Bedoya set the clear time to beat at 42.569 seconds aboard Quattro, before Swail and the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding crossed the line in 41.851 seconds to claim the win.
Finishing in third place with four faults and a time of 39.197 seconds was Fabio Leivas da Costa of Brazil riding Tosca de l’Esque.
“I saw the first couple of guys go, so I had a gauge of the time,” said Swail, who has had the ride on GK Coco Chanel for two years. “There was a 39 [with four faults] there, and then, just before I went in, there was a clear round in 42 seconds, so I knew it wasn’t really quick, so I felt I could just shave off a little time. It’s not that I was taking a lot of risks. I still felt comfortable enough with everything I was doing; I think I just got a nice rollback tight turn to the vertical that was second to last. That probably made it that I just snuck past the guy in front.”
This week marks GK Coco Chanel’s first week showing in 2019 following a successful 2018 season that included wins at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, NC, and Spruce Meadows in Calgary.
“It’s very nice that he’s started off in such a positive way,” said Swail. “He has been very consistent over the last six months; it’s great that we’re continuing the good trend.
“He’s not the most straight forward horse I’ve ever ridden, but very, very talented,” continued Swail. “He’s very quirky. He’s very alert and very sharp, and he has all of the quality, scope, and carefulness, and he’s got a lot of great attributes. Every horse you ride, you have to find their strengths and weaknesses and work on their weaknesses and build on their strengths. He has all the power; he’s a really good athlete as a jumper. He has a big stride. He’s easy to get down any distances that are a little forward. For me now he’s quite rideable and a very exciting horse.”
Ireland’s Lorcan Gallagher, riding Hunters Conlypso II, finished 6th in the class, having withdrawn in the jump-off round.
Final Results: $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 CSI 3*
1 GK Coco Chanel and Conor Swail (IRL), 0/0/ 41.851 seconds.
2 Quattro and Daniel Bedoya (BOL), 0/0/ 42.569 seconds.
3 Tosca De L’Esque and Fabio Leivas Da Costa (BRA), 0/4/ 39.197 seconds.
6 Hunters Conlypso II and Lorcan Gallagher (IRL), 0/withdrawn.