Babington’s win ensures summer of success continues

KEVIN BABINGTON and Carling King won the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead last Sunday, continuing a summer of success ahead of the Dublin Horse Show next week.

His victory came after the team could only finish second to Britain in the Nations Cup.

Babington’s Gold Cup win came courtesy of the only double clear of the competition, netting the Carrick-on-Suir rider £10,000. Irish dominance was evident with Peter Charles, riding the mare Pershing to fourth, and Billy Twomey placed fifth on the stallion Luidam.

Clement McMahon again made his mark following his recent Scandinavian exploits, notching up wins on Gelvin Clover and Dark Flight.

US-based Babington was this week named with Robert Splaine (Coolcorron Cool Diamond), Twomey (Luidam) and Cian O’Connor (Waterford Crystal) on the team to contest the Aga Khan next Friday. They were also chosen to defend Ireland’s European title at Donaueschingen, Germany, later this month, with Peter Charles as the fifth member.

Chef d’Equipe Tommy Wade will bring his experience to bear as the quartet take to the hallowed RDS turf full of confidence they can overturn the 0.5 point lead held by France in the Samsung Super League.

Ireland had to play second fiddle to the home team at Hickstead, the surprise British win promoting them to third in the super league on 26 points.

Crucially, however, Ireland tied with France in second to maintain the status quo at the top of the league on a score of 37 versus 36.5 for Ireland.

The French almost forced a jump-off with the home team, but were denied when Michel Robert and Galet D’Auzay lowered the last fence.

France claimed the Aga Khan in 2002, ending a 45-year drought, with Ireland third.

With Cian O’Connor last Friday producing a repeat of his 2002 double clear in the British Nations Cup and Splaine returning his stallion Coolcorron Cool Diamond after a well-deserved break following a successful campaign on the Continent, the boys in green will be going all out to claim the coveted trophy.

In total, seven countries will line up against Ireland to compete for the 200,000 purse: France, Britain, Germany, Belgium the Netherlands Italy and Sweden.

The Dublin Horse Show, one of eight to be accorded Samsung Super League status, is sponsored by the Korean electronics company, in association with Bord Fáilte. It boasts a prize fund in excess of 500,000.

Saturday’s Puissance on Saturday is guaranteed to entertain. Cian O’Connor, who this year rides Irish Independent Absolon, will be hoping for a repeat of his win last year.

The feature Samsung Grand Prix, followed by the hunt chase is sure to bring the curtain down in fitting style.

THE Irish show jumping team took bronze, and eventer Sarah Glynn claimed individual bronze in the Pony European Championships at Necarne Castle, Co Fermanagh, last weekend.

The show jumping team, featuring brother and sister Anthony and Claire Condon from Cappagh, Co Waterford, finished on 17 faults, with Britain taking gold on four faults. The Netherlands claimed silver with nine faults.

The team was tied with the Dutch on nine faults at the halfway stage, with Mark McAuley (Shalom Outlaw) returning with one time fault, while Anthony (Mr Polo Bear), Claire (Bertie Brown) and Mark Flynn each scored four.

Britain, already dominant on four faults, returned a zero score in round two, for a convincing win, their sixth in a row. Their second-round performance was matched by the Dutch, to leave them on nine, while Ireland added eight to their tally, with McAuley and Claire four faulting, Flynn posting a superb clear, and 2002 individual bronze medallist Anthony lowering two.

Dubliner Glynn’s bronze came with Aero Flyer, her 51 penalties just 1.3 off the silver position and 6.5 penalties from gold.

Claire Condon placed best of the Irish in the individual show jumping competition when equal sixth.

AVRIL DOYLE was returned unopposed as president of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland at a lengthy AGM in Maynooth, Co Kildare, yesterday evening.

It was speculated that she would face a challenge, after she put herself forward for another two-year stint. The Fine Gael MEP, wheelchair bound yesterday following a recent accident involving a pony, made an extensive presentation on the impasse facing the setting up of an umbrella body for equestrianism.

The Government has nominated former Department of Agriculture secretary Michael Dowling as chairman of the crucial implementation group.

While Doyle has questioned his “independence”, some EFI affiliates recently dissented from this line.

It was agreed that, in a bid to clear the impasse, Doyle, along with SJAI chairman Charles Hanley, EFI director general Dan Butler and EFI former president Ned Campion would meet representatives of the Irish Horse Board.

CONOR SWAIL produced the only double clear round with Windgates Paragon to claim the top prize in the 4,500 O’Flynn Victuallers Grand Prix at Waterford Show last Sunday.

In doing so, the Malahide-based rider denied Eddie Moloney a double, after the Kilkenny rider had powered Kilmoylan Warrier correct to victory at North Wexford Show on Saturday.

At Waterford, Moloney was the meat in the Swail sandwich, his four-fault round on Jaynick faster than that produced by the Crossgar rider on Windgates Mystique.

It was Swail’s first grand prix win on Windgates Paragon, with Moloney doing likewise with Kilmoylan Warrier in what was his first competitive ride on the horse.

Swail was effuse in praise of his mount: “I am absolutely delighted with the horse. He’s by Cavalier, and has loads of scope, but at eight years old, this is a great result for him. The only double clear of the show is quite an achievement for such a young horse.”

His win catapulted him to equal sixth in the Kerrygold Grand Prix League with 39 points. Harry Marshall continues to lead on 68 points, three better than Peter Smyth. James Kernan is third on 56.

Shane Breen’s fourth at Waterford boosted his points tally. However, he was erroneously credited with points for placed horses at Charleville and Newcastle West and now stands in fourth on 51.

SASHA HARRISON rode All Love Du Fenaud to third at the three-star event in Lulworth, Britain, last weekend, booking her place in October’s three star Eventing World Cup at Pau, France. The 27-year-old rider from Richhill, Co Armagh, finished on 59.1 penalties in a competition won by Briton Leslie Law on Shear L’Eau on 52.1 penalties.

Another Briton, Rodney Powell, was second with Flintstone IV on 58.5 penalties.

Ireland’s Pip Peter produced the only clear cross-country to finish 11th on Tir na Doone.

THE last Boomerang Qualifier for Millstreet Show (August 13-17) takes place at Ballinhassig Farmers Equestrian Gymkhana on Sunday. Starting at 10.30am, the event has a new venue at Ballinphellic, Corran.

Tomorrow’s Castleisland Summer Show in Kerry will feature a number of Munster Championship qualifiers and a 1.20m open horse class, with a perpetual cup and inscribed silver plates for first, second and third.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox