Conor Swail and Rubens LS La Silla won Saturday night’s $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* at the Tryon Equestrian Center in North Carolina, finishing ahead of his fellow Irishman Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu.
With only three combinations qualifying for the jump-off, Swail and the 12-year-old stallion produced the only double clear to win the competition, coming home in 39.80 seconds.
Limerick man O’Shea and his 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding took the runner-up spot in 42.07 seconds, having had eight faults in the jump-off.
American Margie Engle and her 14-year-old Oldenburg stallion Royce completed the podium, taking third position in 42.076 seconds with twelve faults.
Swail, the first to go in the final round, later stated:
“My horse has had a great year so far and he was coming in here with a lot of confidence. I thought that the time was going to be a little bit of an issue for me, but thankfully I squeezed just inside it. It started off a little scratchy for us at the start. I think it was because we haven’t competed in five weeks. The second half of the round he jumped beautifully. We squeezed just inside the time, but thankfully there weren’t many more in the jump-off.”
Runner-up Paul O’Shea, who also finished second in the 3* Grand Prix last weekend on Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, said:
“I saw Conor go on the screen and he didn’t look really fast, but he was really fast and is always really fast, so that didn’t tell me much, really. My horse has been jumping really well this year and we have been competing in Nations Cups all year. He won the Grand Prix here exactly a year ago and that was the last time we went this fast. He’s had a great year and it’s nice to finish with a result like this.”
Cork native Shane Sweetnam finished sixth aboard Indra Van de Oude Heihoef with one of the faster four fault scores from the opening round.