Connor Swail on London International: ‘The atmosphere is so cool, and so much fun’


  • US-based Irish showjumper Conor Swail is ranked number 15 in the world and regularly competes at the highest level. He has represented his country at European Championships and contested the World Cup Final.

    I grew up watching Olympia, as it was; it was always on the BBC, but the first time I rode at this iconic show was last year. I know it’s at another venue now but it has a lot of history to it and it’s great to be able to ride here in the UK.

    For me it’s about trying to string together a couple of shows that are of relevance, so I fly over from the US for Geneva, then here. They match up really well and my owner, Conall Murray at Mannon Farm, lives in Ireland, near where I grew up, so that’s another big reason to come, so he can watch the horses at such a prestigious show.

    I move around in the US; it used to be Wellington, but I’m going to spend this winter in California. I don’t own a yard, I rent, so it’s very expensive, but if I did have a farm, I’d never be there. But we have the winter circuit, whether in California or Wellington, then move north when the weather gets better, in May time.

    That’s when we go west; I always go to Vancouver and Spruce Meadows, and I love coming to Europe; I did Aachen, Dinard and Dublin this summer. I’ll spend Christmas in Wellington this year as it’s the only place I own a home.

    “Trying to be the best I can”

    What motivates me is to always try to be the best I can be, to be as successful as I can, and I’m enjoying it more than ever these past few years, and have been in the world top 10 or 20.

    I had one little mistake in the World Cup on Sunday, with Casturano, but that was the first fence I’d had all week. I’m super-proud of him; he’s only 10 and inexperienced, and that’s the biggest class he’s jumped in his life, but he really went about his job and felt so mature.

    I’ve had a great week; third on Saturday in the Longines Christmas cracker, and ninth in the World Cup, and my mare Calciet EB Z jumped once and that was double clear.

    I love the atmosphere at the London International; it’s absolutely electric. You get a great buzz from that, it’s so cool, and so much fun.

    I never went to the show when it was held at Olympia but I think there’s more room here and it’s nicer for the horses, and the atmosphere is still the same. I know some people say Olympia was better, and traditional, but you have to change and adapt.

    I hope that I’ll be back next year and that it becomes an annual thing for me. That’s the plan.

    ● What were your highlights from this year’s London International? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your thoughts published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 21 December, 2023

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