Watson pulls off stunning recovery to finish eighth in Saumur three-star

Eventing rider Sam Watson pulled off a stunning recovery to finish eighth in the three-star at Saumur, France, yesterday.

The Carlow rider and the 13-year-old gelding Horseware Bushman were lying 37th on 58 penalties after what he described as an “awful” dressage test, which he put down to a decision to use a different bit.

Knowing nothing but a decisive response would keep his Olympic dream alive, Watson and the Puissance offspring produced a clear in driving rain in the cross-country at a cost of 10.8 time penalties, followed yesterday with one of only six show jumping clears in the competition.

“It was a good result in terms of Olympic selection and I was thrilled with the horse’s jumping performance,” said the 26-year-old. “The dressage was a disappointment and I could have, perhaps, won the event, but I’ll save that big result for the Olympics itself,” joked Watson.

Ireland eventing high performance manager Ginny Elliot said his performance “puts him in a good position” as she ponders her selection for London 2012.

“His dressage was not quite as good as it can be, but he had a good clear cross country and show jumping over a pretty difficult three-star track and we were very pleased. He put his dressage behind him and he concentrated on the next two phases, which was very professional of him,” said Elliot who will now turn her attention to the feature event at Tattersalls early next month.

Joseph Murphy (Electric Cruise) put up 20 jumping faults on the cross-country and completed the competition yesterday in 30th place, but Jayne Doherty (The Only One) added 40 on the cross-country and opted out before the final phase.

A cross-country fall left Australian Clayton Fredericks suffering trauma to his chest with internal bleeding, but he was yesterday said to be “out of danger”.

Denis Lynch’s failure to contest Saturday’s Global Champions Tour in Hamburg, Germany, as a result of injuries picked up the previous weekend in La Baule, France, has seen him slip to fourth in the leaderboard. Lynch declared yesterday: “Two broken ribs are more painful than I thought.”

Billy Twomey’s challenge ended in round one when Je t’Aime Flamenco four faulted, while Mark McAuley (Loriot) went out on eight faults.

Briton Nick Skelton took the top prize of €94,050, guiding the nine-year-old Big Star to the fastest of only two clears in the five-horse, third-round jump-off.

At the five-star show in Madrid, Spain, Shane Breen earned €20,000 when runner up in the King’s Cup. The Tipperary rider and Cos I Can were a second adrift of Spaniard Sergio Alvarez Moya on Zipper in the jump-off.

Despite putting up four faults in the first round of Saturday’s grand prix, Marion Hughes placed fifth with HHS Fortuna.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, Trevor Coyle led three Irish riders in the top ten of yesterday’s grand prix. The Derry-born veteran pocketed €10,000 for his third place on the French-bred Jubilee d’Ouilly, with Limerick’s Shane Carey (Ballymore Eustace) three places further back and Clem McMahon in eighth with Pacino.

Coyle and McMahon had, on Friday, teamed up with Edward Doyle (Samgemgee) and Andrew Bourns (Roundthorn Madios) to finish fourth in the 18-country nations cup.

At the two-star show in Lexington, US, Richie Moloney and Slieveanorra held off a stiff challenge to win the grand prix, the Kilkenny rider rewarded with a $19,000 cheque.

At Balmoral in Belfast, Co Down’s Conor Swail took the honours in the two-star Vodafone Grand Prix, riding Lansdowne, with Dermott Lennon runner-up on Loughview Lou Lou and Joan Greene finishing third with Biscaya d’Eversem.

Waterford’s Tholm Keane and Crafty Jack came out tops in a 10-horse jump-off to win the second leg of the Connolly’s Red Mills Munster Grand Prix League in Aglish, Co Waterford, yesterday. Mark O’Sullivan (Parcavil) and Seamus Hayes (Twister) filled second and third, respectively.


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