Breen takes battle to Shanghai

Shane Breen will be hoping for a repeat of his form a fortnight ago when lining out in Shanghai this week for the latest round of the Global Champions League. 

Breen, riding Ipswich van de Wolfsakker, provided one of the two clear rounds that gave victory to Miami Celtics in the last round which was staged in the team’s home on Miami Beach. 

The other winning clear was scored by fellow Irish competitor Michael Duffy on Quintano, though the Galway rider skips this Chinese leg of the series. 

The only other Irish member of the Miami squad, Cameron Hanley, will be otherwise engaged this week meaning Breen will be teaming up in Shanghai with either American Jessica Springsteen, or one of the Miami squad’s two British members Harry Charles and William Whitaker.

This week’s contest will be a home fixture for Shanghai Swans, whose six-member squad includes Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam. 

The Swans hold the overall lead after winning the first two rounds (in Qatar and Mexico) and finishing fourth in Miami. 

Sweetnam will not be at the Shanghai round, where the only other Irish riders, apart from Breen, will be Darragh Kenny, Denis Lynch, Mark McAuley.

Lynch is the only Irish Irish member of the New York Empire team, while McAuley competes for Madrid In Motion and Kenny is part of the Paris Panthers set-up.

Kenny broke new ground this past weekend when competing for Europe in the Riders Masters Cup in New York, the first Irish rider to do so in what was the fourth staging of the event which mirrors the Ryder Cup in golf. 

Kenny, riding Sweet Tricia, won both his ‘matches’ against American Laura Chapot on Chandon Blue to help Europe continue their domination of the series - the Americans have tasted defeat on all four occasions. 

Europe’s captain Phiippe Guerdat quipped that it might be good if USA won for a change, but intimated that as long as he was in charge there would be no favours. 

“I like winning too much,” he said. His American counterpart Robert Ridland had to suffer disappointment once again, and looked to the next duel for respite. 

“I don’t enjoy losing and none of us were particularly happy about that, but the format I think is tremendous. It’s unique and we will be back again in Paris (in December) and we hope for a different result.”

The meeting concluded with the Longines Masters Grand Prix on Sunday which saw US-based Capt. 

Brian Cournane score a fifth-place finish on Dino after jumping double-clear. The Kerry rider had already bagged a couple of thousand bucks for a seventh-place finish on Amrik in a 1.55m class on Friday. 

It was a good meeting two for Jonathan Corrigan who, while not involved in the five-star events, had a good romp through the two-star classes, culminating with a runner-up finish in the Grand Prix on Irish-bred Loughnavatta Indigo.

The Irish horse of the weekend was Cooley Master Class after carrying British rider Oliver Townend to victory in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, one of the biggest eventing fixtures outside of Europe. 

The defending champion, Townend started the weekend by taking the lead with a dressage score of just 24.1, which enabled him to absorb 1.2 cross-country time penalties and retain his lead despite American runner-up Boyd Martin (Tsetserleg) and third-placed New Zealander Tim Price (Xavier Faer) staying faultless after their dressage scores. 

“Pure class” is how Townend described his horse.

It was just my job to press the buttons at the right time and he delivered again.

British rider Piggy French rode another Irish horse, Quarrycast Echo, to fourth.

The Kentucky event also incorporated separate show jumping events and it was Ireland’s Paul O’Shea who carried off the main prize when netting Saturday’s Grand Prix with the last round of the jump-off on his world championship ride Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu.

Affairs were a lot more muted for Irish riders on this side of the Atlantic. 

Billy Twomey on Gentleman and Bertram Allen on Calefrieda both scored third placings in Saturday classes at St. Tropez but otherwise there was little to shout about either there or at the other four-star affair in Germany at Hagen. 

Michael Pender bagged a third place in a decent 1.45 class at the two-star Easter series in Belgium at Oppglabeek on the Marion Hughes-owned HHS Fortuna.

The first round of the TRM/HSI New Heights Champions series was staged at Meadows Equestrian Centre in Armagh on Sunday, with Capt. Geoff Curran taking the first win on Glengarra Wood. 

“He felt very comfortable today,” Curran said. “He jumped really, really well. He was a little immature up until this year really and I had a nice trip away with him to Spain and it brought him on a lot.”

The next round is being staged at Portmore, Armagh this coming Sunday.

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