Edwards shrugs off crashing fall to take Millstreet Grand Prix

Britain’s Anna Edwards showed you can’t keep a good thing down yesterday by winning the €50,000 Millstreet International Horse Show Grand Prix.

The 28-year-old had suffered a crashing fall in the preceding Boomerang Final when first to go in the jump-off, but was determined to make the showcase class.

It paid off handsomely, with the North Somerset-based rider picking up €16,500 for her win on Diaghilev against a high-class field. Her performance also netted her €5,000 as winner of the inaugural Great Britain and Ireland Tour.

“He’s in amazing form,” said a beaming Edwards of the nine-year-old bay gelding, which she has ridden for its breeder and owner Terry Payne since he was a youngster.

Edwards’s first visit to Millstreet had come after she had placed 10th in the King George Cup in Hickstead, having claimed the Queen’s Cup at the West Sussex fixture in 2010. Her form was evident throughout the week at Millstreet, having placed fourth in one grand prix qualifier and runner-up in another.

On top of that, her job in yesterday’s feature was made a little bit easier when her compatriots William Funnell and Guy Williams failed to match her first-round clear, along with the likes of Tipperary’s Shane Breen and French speed merchant Roger-Yves Bost.

Nine rivals did leave all the fences standing, however, and posed a significant threat in the jump-off, but Edwards strengthened her chances by ensuring she was last to go.

Ultimately, it was Richard Howley on Michael Whitaker’s stallion Camiro De Haar Z, who posed the main Irish threat when sixth to go, taking up the lead with a clear in 41.94 seconds, before Britain’s Daniel Neilson shaved almost three-quarters of a second off this with Varo M.

But Edwards banked correctly on Diaghilev’s “natural rhythm” setting up her winning pace from the off to beat Neilson by almost half a second for an exciting conclusion to the contest. “To compete against such great riders and beat them is brilliant,” she said, recalling that as a 14-year-old she had competed as an eventer up the road in Ballindenisk.

It was Britain’s sixth win at the show, including William Funnell and Billy Mexico taking the aforementioned Boomerang ahead of Shane Breen on Golden Hawk, while Guy Williams recorded his third international win of the week in yesterday’s consolation class with Torino Van De Middelstede.

Irish success came in Saturday’s Speed Derby, courtesy of Conor Swail on Drömma, denying Waterford’s Francis Connors (Merlin’s Magic) a brace, following his win in Friday’s Six Bar on John Murphy’s Heracross.

Meanwhile, in Malmo, Sweden, Ireland’s young rider team of Katie Nolan, Jessica O’Driscoll, David Hannigan and Shane Power took the silver medal at the European Eventing Championships.


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