Cian O’Connor led a five-strong parade of Irish riders at the top of the leaderboard in the opening competition of the Dublin Horse Show yesterday.
A total of 80 riders from 11 countries went to the starting line in The Speed Stakes on the first of five days of world-class show jumping, with spectators treated to an impressive 43 clear rounds.
O’Connor was the stand-out performer, however, guiding the nine-year-old stallion Aramis 573 to victory by over half a second.
His main rivals proved to be two of his fellow squad members for tomorrow’s nations cup, Bertram Allen on Quiet Easy 4 and Olympic-bound Greg Broderick with Zuidam, respectively, while long-time leaders Billy Twomey and the Irish-bred Ardcolum Duke placed fourth, ahead of another member of the Irish squad, Darragh Kenny, aboard Global van T Braunerthof.
O’Connor was delighted with Aramis, a horse he had not been campaigning in recent months.
“It’s a great start to the week, to get your nose in front in the first class. I’ve probably won that class five or six times over the years. Aramis is a great horse. He won the seven/eight-year-old final here and he was a little bit green to travel to some of the bigger shows that I had been doing, so the in the past eight months he’s been produced and educated by Mervyn Clarke. I was short of a horse to come here, I had sold one of my other horses, and I asked Mervyn did he think he would do the job, so he dropped him up to me yesterday and I gave him a little pop out in Simmonscourt in the warm-up arena just to see that I didn’t forget how to ride him. Thankfully, Mervyn had done such a great job, it made my job pretty easy.”
Irish riders were off the pace in the feature Sport Ireland Classic, though an Irish horse proved the best in the 49-strong field. The 10-year-old Try Time gelding Limestone Grey - bred by David Moran, Co Limerick - was rock solid as Italian Lorenzo de Luca galloped to victory in an 11-horse jump-off that produced six clears. His time of 44.76 seconds put him over a second ahead of Brazilian Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (Rock’N Roll Semilly), with Britain’s Ben Maher and Boomerang seven-tenths of a second further back.
Best of the Irish riders was Anthony Condon, the Waterford rider four-faulting with Aristio in the second round to place eighth.
Ireland manager Robert Splaine will today announce the team that will bid tomorrow for a repeat of last year’s nations cup win. The five riders aiming for one of the four places on offer include Tipperary’s Greg Broderick and his Rio Olympics mount MHS Going Global, who provided one of only two double clear rounds in last year’s winning performance, along with three of his 2015 team-mates, Wexford’s Bertram Allen (Hector Van D’Abdijhoeve), Darragh Kenny (Go Easy De Muze), and Olympic bronze medalist Cian O’Connor (Good Luck). Denis Lynch and All Star 5 are also named on the squad.
Visitors to the show today will be treated to three competitions focusing on speed, opening with the Speed Derby, in which each fence knocked adds four seconds to a rider’s time, followed by the Serpentine Stakes, and a two-phase Anglesea Stakes.
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