Twomey and Kürten ensure good day for Irish

Show jumper Billy Twomey’s fourth place in the World Cup qualifier at Leipzig, Germany, has propelled him to the top of the Olympic rankings, according to Horse Sport Ireland, while Jessica Kürten posted her first major grand prix win in over a year in Amsterdam.

The Corkman’s performance with Tinka’s Serenade saw him overtake long-time rankings leader Denis Lynch, from Tipperary, boosting hopes Ireland will have two individual riders at the Games, having failed to qualify a team.

The ranking are determined by results from January of last year to March 1, with the top three riders securing Olympic slots. Of these, Ireland is permitted a maximum of two places, but it is manager Robert Splaine who decides who makes the trip to London.

Twomey was holding onto third place when the results were compiled at the end of December, but his second place in Friday’s grand prix qualifier, coupled with yesterday’s fourth place and a similar finish in the grand prix at Basel, Switzerland, last weekend, has put him top of what HSI said described as “the unconfirmed European Olympic rankings”.

The hunt for points continues next weekend at the World Cup show in Zurich, Switzerland.

Nottinghamshire-based Twomey earned €15,000 for his efforts and rose 20 places to 19th on the World Cup leaderboard, with second-placed Lynch already qualified for the April final in ’s-Hertogenbosch.

In Amsterdam, Jessica Kürten issued a reminder yesterday that she has not gone away, winning the grand prix at the four-star Dutch fixture.

The Antrim woman last year lost the ride on her top horses after falling out with owner Georgina Forbes, but yesterday she gave notice that she is still a force to be reckoned with as she rebuilds her string, having moved with her horses to train Edouard de Rothschild at his yard just outside Paris.

“I see this as a great omen as this is my first show this year and I only moved to Paris two weeks ago. It is a new adventure and it is a nice way to start it,” said a delighted Kürten.

Her victory with Stal Poel’s 10-year-old gelding Vincente earned her almost €25,000 after she beat off the challenge of eight rivals, her time giving her three-hundredths of second to spare over runner-up Dutch World Equestrian Games gold medallist Gerco Schroder and Eurocommerce California.

In October, Kürten steered Vincente to third in the grand prix at the three-star show in Kiel, Germany, and, after yesterday’s performance, she confidently declared that the Dutch-bred horse had all the talent required to be a world beater.

“I got him in April and we started finding our way. We were unlucky to have one down in the World Cup in Mechelen after Christmas. He’s a blood horse, 169cms, Dutch-bred and he has a delicate personality. It is nice to find a way with such a horse and he really is always trying his best. The horse definitely can go all the way,” said Kürten whose last major grand prix win came in Mechelen, Belgium, in 2010.

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