In one of the most spectacular results in recent Irish showjumping history, Irish riders filled first, second and fourth places in today's €150,000 five-star Longines Grand Prix of Barcelona, which featured a host of the world's top riders who had descended on the Spanish City for the Nations Cup World Final.
Offaly's Darragh Kenny scooped the winner’s trophy and €58,600 in prize money with the 10-year-old gelding Go Easy De Muze, with Tipperary's Greg Broderick taking runner-up spot and €35,500 with The Irish Sport Horse MHS Going Global. German legend Ludger Beerbaum finished third with Chiara.
A memorable day for the Irish was completed by another Tipperary rider, Shane Breen, who filled fourth spot with Golden Hawk, collecting almost €18,000.
Speaking afterward's a delighted Darragh Kenny, who today won his first ever five-star Grand Prix. said: “I am very, very happy he is an incredible horse, he jumped unbelievable in the Nations Cup on Saturday night and came out and jumped incredible again today.
“I am very lucky to have him. The McCahill family have been great to give me the chance to ride such and incredible horse, he just keeps getting better. We only have him since the start of June and I think he has now jumped five-five-star Grand Prix's, he has been third in two and now won another.
“I think he is going to be an amazing horse for a championship, my goal is now very much the European Championships. It's been a brilliant week for the Irish, all the Irish riders get on brilliant and if we can keep it together we really have something bright for the future.”
Waterford-born Anthony Condon jumped a superb round when second to go in the first round with the nine-year-old gelding Chinook, lowering just one unlucky rail near the end of the course. Tipperary's Denis Lynch and the stallion All Star, who won the Barcelona Grand Prix for Ireland just 12 months earlier, also produced an excellent performance with just one pole falling on an otherwise perfect round.
Just six of the 59 starters managed to jump clear over a testing first round course and incredibly three of those were for Ireland, with Shane Breen, Darragh Kenny and Greg Broderick all mastering the tough course to advance to the second round.
Italy's Juan Carlos Garcia was first to go against the clock with Gitano V Berkenbroeck, and left the door open when lowering a single fence. He was followed by a trio of Irish riders, with Shane Breen and Golden Hawk taking the early lead after a brilliant clear in 43.67 seconds. Darragh Kenny was next to go with Go Easy De Muze and he raced into the lead with a stunning round (41.81).
Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global (ISH) then almost matched his fellow Irishman, finishing almost two tenths of a second slower to go into runner-up spot. German legend Ludger Beerbaum, who was making his last appearance on a German team at Barcelona, slotted into third place on the podium with Chiara (42.73). The final rider, Janne Friederike Mayer (GER), almost denied an Irish victory with Goja. They posted the fastest time of the day (41.75) but the last fence fell to the floor sparking huge celebrations in the Irish camp.
Darragh Kenny becomes the fifth Irish winner of the Barcelona Grand Prix. The late Paul Darragh was the first Irish winner in 1996 with Cera. Jessica Kurten then won in 2009 with Castle Forbes Cosma, before Billy Twomey scored a Irish win again in 2010 with J'Taime Flamenco, while Denis Lynch was the 2015 winner with All Star.
Horse Sport Ireland Show Jumping Team Manager Robert Splaine added: “To have three Irish riders finish in the top four of the Grand Prix at a Nations Cup World final is a phenomenal result, the first time in Irish Show Jumping history to do so.
“I want to congratulate Darragh Kenny, Greg Broderick and Shane Breen, and also Denis Lynch and Anthony Condon who also had brilliant rounds. The performances of all our riders here this week has been superb. Huge progress has been made in the last few years and the future of Irish showjumping on the world stage looks extremely bright.”