A double helping of FEI World Cup rounds in both show jumping and dressage ensures there is no let-up in international action over the Christmas period.
London Olympia is already underway since Monday and will culminate the Sunday before Christmas Day, with Mechelen in Belgium taking up the baton from St. Stephen’s Day. There is also Liverpool’s four-star meeting starting on the 27th.
Dressage rider Dane Rawlins has been first of the Irish into action in London, scoring precisely 66% on Espoire in the Grand Prix on Monday night to finish in 14th, which was enough to see him earn a place in the Grand Prix Freestyle.
As well as staging a show jumping World Cup leg and the Turkish Airlines Grand Prix, the London event will also feature a Puissance class. Nano Healy will have KMS Klintland at the venue hoping to round off a year that his seen him go close at Dublin Horse Show and Birmingham’s Horse Of The Year Show.
Mikey Pender will also be having a go at the event with Hearton Du Bois Haleaux. The rider made history when he became the youngest-ever winner of the Hickstead Derby this year.
Anthony Condon, Darragh Kenny and Mark McAuley will also be in action. Kenny’s run of good form continued at Geneva this past weekend where he finished second in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 contest, taking the lead when second-last to go only to be bettered by American former world number one Kent Farrington on Austria 2.
Kenny rode Romeo 88 for that event, and will have the 10 year-old on hand in London as well. The last time Kenny and Romeo were in World Cup action was in November at the Verona round when they finished second, another occasion where the last-to-go — Britain’s Scott Brash on Hello M’Lady— robbed the Irish pairing of a big win.
One would have anticipated another big placing from Kenny in Sunday’s Geneva Grand Prix where he partnered Balou Du Reventon, and when they went clear in the opening round it looked on, but one pole down in the jump-off and ruled them out of the business end of the contest — the first pole Balou has downed in quite a while.
At least they got a little further than Britain’s Ben Maher and Explosion W, perhaps the world’s most formidable combination this year. Their afternoon ended with one down in the first round. It had looked like being be a mighty afternoon for the Irish. Mikey Pender was the first to make the jump-off with HHS Burnchurch, with Mark McAuley following up by also going clear with Vivaldi Du Theil before Kenny became the third Irish rider to advance. However, thereafter the Irish luck ran out, with eight faults for Pender and four each for McAuley and Kenny.
The Irish eventers Cathal Daniels and Pádraig McCarthy were expected to play a big part in the Swiss meeting’s Indoor Cross-Country class, McCarthy arriving as defending champion with last year’s winner Rosemaber Lancuest and Daniels partaking on Alcatraz, ridden to second in the event last year by Britain’s Alex Bragg.
Both Irish riders lived up to expectations, McCarthy leading for a long time having finished just over six seconds over the optimal time for a score of seven penalties, before Daniels took over the lead with a four-penalty finish. The Irish one-two was thwarted by Frenchman Karim Florent Laghouag, who appeared to have the class in his hands on Punch de l’Esques but came in too quickly to finish over five seconds inside the optimal and had to be content with second.
There was also a good Irish showing in the U25 Grand Prix. American Coco Fath, who is coached by Rodrigo Pessoa, set the target with a clear in 34.89 seconds on Exotik Sitte when first to go in what had become a nine-horse jump-off.
No one could catch her, but Ireland’s Kate Derwin came closest with Deep Pockets, finishing 0.16 seconds behind, while Harry Allen’s double-clear with his Fontainebleau winner Dancing Queen Z earned him fourth place.
Elsewhere this week there is a three-star fixture in Frankfurt at which Denis Lynch and Peter Moloney will be in action. Lynch brings Rubens LS La Silla, his winner of the Longines Grand Prix at Coruña last Saturday. Chateau Petrus will also be in the Tipperary rider’s arsenal for the meeting. Moloney includes Ornellaia for the weekend.
Horse Sport Ireland has announced that Maryville in Cork will be the first venue (February 7th) for the ‘Take On Tokyo’ tour which will help raise funds for Ireland’s eventing team ahead of the Olympic Games. The tour offers enthusiasts a chance to meet and learn learn from Ireland’s top eventers. Tickets are available through the Eventing Ireland website.