Thermal, California, USA – February 06, 2022 – International competition during Desert Circuit III concluded Sunday as athletes took to the $138,600 Sun Air Jets 1.55m Grand Prix CSI 3* to compete for the top prize. Thirty-five elite athletes entered the Grand Prix Arena to contest the track built by Alan Wade (IRL). Though many fell victim to the various challenges presented across the course, a total of 10 pairs navigated the first round clear and took on the jump-off. Ultimately, it was Ireland’s Conor Swail (IRL) who took the win aboard his own Vital Chance de La Roque.
As the winning pair in Thursday’s $5,000 Pomponio Ranch 1.40m Two-Phase CSI3*, the pressure was on Karrie Rufer (IRL) and the Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC, entry Mr. Europe to perform. The duo rose to the occasion, shaving an impressive seven seconds off of Siegel’s time to claim the top spot in a swift 36.72 seconds.
As the final pair to contest the jump-off track, Swail and his notoriously quick mount Vital Chance de La Roque saved the best for last, putting on a show for the crowd gathered around the Grand Prix Arena. The 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding showcased his skills, galloping his way through the tactful turns with ease and remaining careful over each fence. In what seemed like a photo finish, Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque notched 36.53 seconds on the clock, just good enough to claim first place honors. Karrie Rufer (USA) and Mr. Europe would ultimately finish in second place, with Lisa Carlsen (CAN) and Livestream 2 rounding out the top three.
Final Results – $138,600 Sun Air Jets 1.55m Grand Prix CSI 3*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1) Conor Swail (IRL) & Vital Chance de la Roque – 0 / 0 – 36.53
2) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Mr. Europe – 0 / 0 – 36.72
3) Lisa Carlsen (CAN) & Livestream 2 – 0 / 0 – 37.79
Source: Press Release from Desert International Horse Park
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Tori Bilas