Irish show jumpers showed their class in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday, foremost among them being Darragh Kenny, as they claimed first, second and fourth in the €150,000 Longines Cup.
The Offaly rider and his compatriots made up half of the field in a six-way jump-off that saw him almost denied on the gelding Go Easy De Muze by Tipperary’s Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global, prevailing by just 17-hundredths of a second for his first five-star grand prix victory.
Another Tipp stalwart, Shane Breen, also produced a clear on Golden Hawk, but was denied a place on the podium by German legend Ludger Beerbaum, aboard Chiara 222.
The final rider in the jump-off, Germany’s Janne Friederike Mayer, riding Goja 27, came close to spoiling the Irish party, posting the fastest time, but lowering the last fence to spark huge celebrations in the Irish camp.
“I am very, very happy. He is an incredible horse,” said Kenny.
“He jumped unbelievable in the nations cup on Saturday night and came out and jumped incredible again today. I think he is going to be an amazing horse for a championship.
"My goal is now very much the European Championships. It’s been a brilliant week for the Irish and if we can keep it together, we really have something bright for the future.”
Ireland were unlucky not to have five riders in the timed round, with Denis Lynch and All Star 5, and Waterford’s Anthony Condon, riding Chinook II, foiled by single errors in the first round.
The competition was the culmination of the show that featured the €1.5m final of the Furusiyya Nations Cup Series on Saturday, with the Irish team placing fifth.
Breen and Golden Hawk opened with eight faults, but Kenny and Go Easy De Muze steadied the ship with a superb clear. Lynch also left the fences untouched with All Star 5, but picked up a single time fault.
Greg Broderick looked on course to match his clear from Thursday’s qualifier with MHS Going Global that booked Ireland a place in the decider. It would have put Ireland in third place, but the plan came unstuck at the penultimate.
The nail-biting contest boiled down to a jump-off for the top prize of €500,000 between Britain and Germany after both finished on zero faults.
Newly-crowned individual Olympic champion Nick Skelton left British hopes high when securing a clear on Big Star, but Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout was imperious when crossing the line over one-and-three-quarters of a second faster.
Third place went to the US on four faults in a competition that was notable for the fact the top three teams all called up new recruits for their four-member sides.
Irish dressage rider Judy Reynolds yesterday said she is working on a new freestyle test as she builds on her Olympic momentum that saw her score two impressive wins with Vancouver K at the four-star show in Central Park, New York.
Reynolds and the 14-year-old gelding, owned by Joe and Kathleen Reynolds, scored 77.051% to win Saturday’s $75,000 freestyle, having the previous night won the open grand prix.
The German-based Kildare woman travels to the World Cup in Pennsylvania next weekend, and is also pencilling in World Cup outings in Stuttgart, Germany, London’s Olympia and Neumunster, Germany, in a bid to qualify for the final next March in Omaha, Nebraska.
On Friday, the New York show saw Down’s Conor Swail place third in the $216,000 Rolex Grand Prix aboard Cita, producing the fastest four faults in a 10-horse jump-off to slot in behind winner, America’s Jimmy Torano and Day Dream, and New Zealander Sharn Wordley (Barnetta), his second year in a row to finish runner-up.
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