North America-based Irish rider Conor Swail has been a regular at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for years, and it’s one of his favorite competitions. No one who was there in 2013 will forget seeing him hopping down the stairs from the seating to claim the Leading International Rider title after injuring his Achilles tendon in a freak accident. But Conor has always been a trouper. He debuted at the Dublin Horse Show at age 6 and started competing abroad to represent Ireland in the pony ranks eight years later, appearing in his first senior Nations Cup at age 25.
Q: What do you like about the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair horse show?
CS: It’s always been a very lucky show for me. It’s a wonderful event, very well run. I like the way people are dressed up very nicely in traditional style, in tuxedos and evening gowns. It gets great crowds.
Q: What do you like about being in Toronto?
CS: The city is multi-cultural. it’s one of the fastest growing cities in North America and you can walk everywhere. It’s a cool place to be, away from the show jumping.
Q: What do you do at night after the show?
CS: I might visit the Library Bar in the hotel (the Fairmont Royal York) for a small drink or two.
Q: Do you do anything during the day besides ride?
CS: Like a lot of us riders when we’re there, we’re focused on the competition. But I’ve gone up in the CN Tower and I’d like to go to the new aquarium. It’s so cool to do stuff like that.
Q: Do you ever go to the fair?
CS: The fair is cool, with the cattle auctions and everything. It’s a little bit like the Dublin Horse Show, with all the exhibitions in those big halls. I always do have a mosey around there.
Q: What do you think of the crowd they get for the Royal?
CS: On the two big nights, the World Cup night (Wednesday’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto) and the Big Ben night (the final Saturday of the show) it’s a packed house. It certainly makes you as an athlete up to do well.