Reynolds hints at more to come after setting new Irish record

Judy Reynolds’ record performance in the Amsterdam round of the FEI Dressage World Cup at the weekend keeps her hopes of making the April final in Gothenburg alive despite her late entry into the 2018/2019 series.

With rounds to come in Neumunster, Germany, in February and a Dutch leg in ’s-Hertogenbosch in March, the Kildare rider said yesterday that she felt she had a good chance of getting to the Gothenburg final.

“We’re definitely doing Neumunster and hopefully if we get a good result there we’ll get our place in the final qualifier,” she told the Irish Examiner.

IN PERFECT HARMONY: Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K set a new Irish international freestyle record in Amsterdam at the weekend..

The Irish international freestyle record she scored with Vancouver K at the weekend (80.29%) would have given her a podium finish in almost all of the earlier rounds she didn’t contest, but such was the stature of the Amsterdam leg that it placed her seventh.

“The field at Amsterdam really was as tough as the final,” she said. “I don’t think it’ll get tougher than that in terms of what we’ll meet.”

From a points angle it was as good as a sixth-place finish as the Amsterdam winner Isabell Werth is an automatic qualifier as defending champion and so does not come into the points allocation.

What emphasises the competitive nature of the past weekend’s round even more is that when Reynolds finished fourth in the 2017 World Cup Final in Omaha, USA she did so with a score of 79.571%.

While “absolutely delighted” with her new Irish international record, Reynolds feels she can set the bar higher. “I hope to go out and break it again soon,” she said.

For now, Neumunster is the next target. “That will require a decent result and then I think we stand a good chance.”

In the show-jumping element of the Amsterdam meeting, there was a disappointment for Bertram Allen who had two down in the first round of the World Cup qualifier with Molly Malone, leaving him well out of the points.

He still has the option of the final round in Bordeaux next month, but would need a top-four finish to qualify for the final — and even that might not be quite enough.

Allen heads to the Austrian meeting at Treffen this week, as does Michael G. Duffy and Denis Lynch. It’s all change for Lynch of late with the retirement from competition of his grand servant (and Euro team-gold winner) All Star 5 and the move of his more recent campaigner The Sinner to Swiss rider Martin Fuchs.

He will now be looking to his new mounts Lukas, a horse owned by Cian O’Connor’s Ronnoco Jump Ltd, and Hector van d’Abdijhoeve, acquired from Bertram Allen. This past weekend Lynch brought another new ride, Chablis, to the two-star Dutch meeting at Kronenberg and took the lead in the Grand Prix jump-off, only to be ousted by the last two riders, Germany’s Christian Ahlmann (Dominator 2000 Z), who took over the lead, and French rider Guillaume Foutrier (Valdacco des Caps), who closed out the contest by claiming second.

Weather disrupted part of the third week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Palm Beach in Florida but it didn’t stop Irish riders Darragh Kenny and Conor Swail from taking two of the main classes. Kenny scooped the week’s biggest prize when partnering Classic Dream to victory in Saturday night’s rain-dampened Adequan Grand Prix.

“He has never jumped a Grand Prix like this before in his life, but he really wants to do a good job,” said Kenny of his nine-year-old gelding.

“He showed that he has a lot of quality and ability.”

The Irish pairing prevented a US clean sweep with Kent Farrington having to settle for second on Baltic Star ahead of Beezie Madden on Chic Hin d’Hyrencourt and Adrienne Sternlicht with Toulago.

Conor Swail’s win came in Thursday’s Equinimity Challenge. The Co Down rider had made it through to the jump-off on GK Coco Chanel before the weather suspension, and the remaining combinations jumped on Friday morning. In the ensuing seven-horse jump-off, Swail chased and caught Bolivian leader Daniel Bedoya who rode Quattro.

“I felt I could shave off a little time,” Swail said.

He’s not the most straightforward horse I’ve ever ridden, but very talented. It’s nice that he’s started off [2019] in such a positive way. He’s been very consistent over the last six months. It’s great that we’re continuing the good trend.

The fourth week of the WEF gets underway today and the level goes up to four-star, with $209,000 (€183,000) going in Saturday night’s Marshall & Sterling Grand Prix.

There is also action elsewhere in Florida at Deeridge, which hosts a US round of the FEI World Cup, while a Middle Eastern round takes place at Sharjah, UAE.

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