Fraser Duffy was reasonably satisfied with his dressage on Fernhill Revelation in the CCI three-star class on the opening day of Tattersalls International Horse Trials yesterday, writes John Tynan.
The British-born rider finished on 48.60 penalties with the nine-year-old gelding to lie in 16th place.
“I am happy, the mark was appropriate. He is quite young and inexperienced at this level. While he didn’t make any mistakes, it was quite windy and he was a little bit tighter than he would normally be,” said Duffy.
Duffy, who made his international debut for Ireland last year, is on Ireland manager Nick Turner’s Olympic long-list, but he feels he needs to prove the horse has the credentials.
“We need to produce a clear round this year at CCI three-star and CIC three-star level to qualify for the Olympics, so there is pressure on this weekend. He is a bit young for the Europeans this year at Blair Castle, but it would be nice to be considered. Ultimately, the long-term goal is the Olympics next year.”
Duffy said it was hard to define if this weekend’s cross-country course would ensure it was not purely a dressage competition.
“It’s a typical Ian Stark course, requiring brave and forward riding. It is quite sizeable. You wouldn’t necessarily know where things will happen. When you walk it, there is no particular bogey fence and it suggests you would get most horses around quite nicely, yet there could be surprises. It is quite an experienced field, so it’s difficult to say how it will ride.”
He said there would need to be many upsets if he was to take the honours, but he was anticipating a solid result with the Warrenstown You 2 offspring.
“He’s been very consistent in show jumping, but, having said that, he has never run that length of course before, so I don’t know how it will affect him come Sunday. I would like, though, to think we could secure a good result.”
Australia’s Sam Griffiths took the overnight lead on Favorit Z with 36.10pens, followed by five British riders led by Flora Harris on Bayano.
Best of the Irish is Jonty Evans (Cooley Rorke’s Drift, 46.60pens) in 13th place. Mark Kyle (Loughton Pearl, 46.90pens) is equal 14th.
To whet the appetite, there is Sunday’s ‘Bet Showjumping Live’ speed and elimination class. A ‘racecard’ will be produced showing up-to-date form of each horse/rider combination to allow informed betting.
Entry is free today and tomorrow.
The Briton has had the mare — owned and bred PJ Hegarty in West Cork — for a couple of weeks and had a disappointing finish at two-star level in Scotland on their first outing.
However, they replied in convincing fashion at the French fixture opening with an impressive 44.9pens, a score they maintained to the finish, following clears in cross-country and show jumping.
Townend told Horse and Hound: “She has a lot of ability, but isn’t good at handling pressure, so I was really proud of her. She was a real professional cross-country — I didn’t know about her fitness, but she wanted to get to the end. She’s an exceptional mare. She is a real professional, and tries so hard.”
The Meath-based rider and the smart-looking 10-year-old grey were among 10 combinations to make the jump-off from a 50-strong line-up and, showing little indication that they had only become a partnership a week earlier, won by a two-second margin.
In New York, Ronan McGuigan and his consistent Dutch warmblood gelding Capall Zidane won Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix.
It was McGuigan’s second win at the event, having topped the leaderboard in Wednesday’s $10,000 show opener.
In North Carolina, David Blake and Pine Hollow Farm’s Binkie kicked off with a narrow win in a $34,000 jump-off competition, the inaugural FEI class at Tryon Equestrian Centre.
Its recent launch in Adare, also saw the official unveiling of the revamped Munster website: munstershowjumping.ie or sji.ie/munster.
Six of the region’s prominent personalities were lauded at the event for their dedication to the sport. Two people were nominated by each of the Munster Region’s three branches to be listed on the Roll of Honour: Cork-Kerry branch chose Kate Horgan and Jerry Sweetnam, Limerick-Clare Branch selected Ivan Mc Donagh and Candy Cusack, and Waterford/Tipperary opted for Joan Keane and Richard Quirke.
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