Show jumper Richie Moloney is considering a shot at the World Cup final following his qualifier victory in North Salem, New York on Sunday.
The Kilkenny rider admitted that he had attended this year’s final in Las Vegas as a spectator and considered he might not have the horsepower to realistically challenge for the title.
However, his win with Equinimity Llc’s Carrabis Z on Sunday when he produced the only double clear, has resulted in a rethink and the possibility of a bid to qualify for the final in Gothenburg, Sweden, next April..
“I suppose the World Cup finals is a goal now with the win today, but it wasn’t my first aim,” admitted Moloney. “I went to the World Cup finals this year in Vegas to watch and I saw how hard it was. I wasn’t sure I had a horse or two horses that it would suit. We’ll see; you never know by the time the end of April comes.”
Moloney has competed Carrabis Z for four years and has developed a strong partnership with the 12-year-old Zangersheide stallion.
“He’s a lot of blood, he’s a little bit difficult to ride, but he’s very careful,” he explained. “Even though he’s 12 this year, I feel he’s just starting to really improve now since the start of the summer so hopefully there are more good things to come.”
Moloney had teed up his World Cup contest challenge by winning Saturday’s Derby with Alsvid and he was one of just six of the 40 starters who mastered the technical track designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade.
Fourth to go and having seen three of his rivals posting faults, Moloney knew a clear round would put him in a commanding position, so he took a relatively slow cautious approach.
“In the jump-off there was nobody clear before I went,” said Moloney. “The first four jumps in the jump-off I kind of stopped my plan and went a little forward and then towards the end of the jump-off round I got a little bit careful and made sure I jumped a clear round.”
The tactic paid off, ensuring him a €62,000 payday, with American Laura Kraut and Deauville S the fastest of the four-faulters to fill the runner-up spot.
Conor Swail was also in the money in North Salem, winning the American Gold Cup qualifier with Viva Columbia to pick up €25,000. Fourteen of the 56 starters made the jump-off, but the Co Down rider had the edge, his clear round with Ilan Ferder’s 10-year-old bay mare being over half a second faster than the best of the rest, Ali Wolff and the chestnut gelding Casall. For good measure, Swail was presented with the prize for the show’s most stylish rider.
The Speed Derby won by Moloney also saw Down’s Lorcan Gallagher place third on Esquina van Klapscheut, while Paul O’Shea scooped $17,000 when runner-up in a 1.50mtr jump-off class on Skara Glen’s
In Azerbaijan, Ireland claimed the bronze medal in the first European Arena Polo Championships.
The Irish squad of James Connolly (captain), Siobhan Herbst, James Kennedy jnr, Patrick Ephson and Keelan McCarthy faced five rivals, with the host country beating Germany to the gold medal.
The countries were invited to contest the event based on performances at the last World Equestrian Games and Ireland clinched their podium finish with a 4.5 goals to four victory over Spain on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Scott Brash proved he is a unique talent by winning the Rolex Grand Slam to claim a 1m euro bonus.
Brash and Hello Sanctos earned the sport’s richest prize when victorious in the grand prix at Spruce Meadows in Canada, becoming the first rider to win the three equestrian Majors consecutively.
Brash opened his account with victory in Geneva, Switzerland, last December. He repeated the feat in Aachen, Germany, in May to ensure a huge sense of anticipation at Spruce Meadows.
Hope ventured one step closer to reality when the Scottish-born 29-year-old became one of 12 riders to face a jump-off track described by designer Leopoldo Palacios as “the biggest course on the circuit”.
To his benefit, Brash produced the fastest first-round effort to ensure he was last to go against the clock. Crucially, by the time he entered the arena, he knew that a clear round would be good enough, as, while Brazil’s Pedro Veniss and the 2013 Grand Prix winner, Pieter Devos had jumped clear, they had each picked up a single time fault.
As he has done on so many previous occasions riding Hello Sanctos, the World No1 rose majestically to the challenge, surviving a scare at the penultimate double to produce the only clear round and write his name in the history books.
Brash said: “Winning one of the equestrian Majors was an incredible achievement, to win two was a dream come true, but to go on and complete the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is beyond belief. I have a very special horse in Hello Sanctos, and some amazingly supportive owners in Lord & Lady Harris, and Lord & Lady Kirkham. This close partnership has enabled Hello Sanctos and myself to achieve success that will never be forgotten, and I would like to thank all those who have played a part in making this happen.”
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