OFFALY’s Darragh Kenny scored a fantastic win in the early hours of this morning at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, landing the $130,000 three-star Grand Prix aboard Red Star D'Argent.
Just three of the 42 starters managed to make it into the second round jump-off, with Kenny emerging as the winner after a brilliant round against the clock with the 11-year-old stallion Red Star D'Argent, a horse the Irishman only began riding at the beginning of January.
It was also a good day for Irish breeding, with second place going to the Irish Sport Horse mare, ISHD Dual Star, ridden by American Laura Chapot. They finished two tenths of a second behind Kenny who afterwards commented on his jump-off round, "I did not actually watch Laura. I know that Laura is an extremely fast rider, and the horse is a super horse. I had one of my friends, Hardin (Towell), watch her. He said that you basically just have to go for it and see what happens."
"The horse is very easy to turn, and he jumps even better when you turn him back up to jumps," Kenny continued. "He really tries and is really careful, with good technique, so it makes it easy to turn really short with him."
Chapot thought she may have been able to take more risk in hindsight, but the rider was very pleased with her jump-off round aboard her Irish Sport Horse mare Dual Star.
"I thought she jumped fantastic," Chapot stated. "I do not think she even came close to touching a rail. I think I just played it too safe in the jump-off. I probably should have made at least one of the inside turns, either after the double or to the last line. With the way my horse was jumping, I probably should have gone ahead and done that, and that would have made the difference."
Meanwhile the Irish team finished fifth in last night's (Friday) Nations Cup at Ocala in Florida, with victory going to the home team from the United States.