Ireland crowned U21 (Young Rider) European Show Jumping champions as Irish-bred horses play key role

Photo – The Irish Young Rider (U21) team of Max Wachman, Rhys Williams, Seamus Hughes Kennedy, Niamh McEvoy, Ciaran Nallon and team manager James Kernan stand on the podium after taking the gold medal at the FEI European Championships in Gorla Minore, Italy.

A dominant performance from the Irish U21 (Young Rider) Show Jumping team saw them crowned European Champions this evening (Friday), at the FEI European Championships in Gorla Minore, Italy.

Ireland came into the final round in a strong position, holding almost two fences in hand on their nearest rivals after the first two rounds that were held earlier this week. Three perfect clear rounds in the final decider saw Ireland take the gold medal in style, to finish on a final score of just 2.5 penalties – well clear of Belgium who took silver on 15.09 penalties while Great Britain took bronze on 18.41.

The gold medal winning Irish team included two Irish-bred horses with Kilkenny’s Seamus Hughes Kennedy riding the Ennisnag Stud-bred ESI Rocky (ISH) and Tyrone’s Niamh McEvoy riding the Dorothea Wilson-bred Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick (ISH). The winning Irish team, managed by James Kernan, also included Tipperary’s Max Wachman with Quintini, Clare’s Rhys Williams with Playboy JT Z and Mayo’s Ciaran Nallon with Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Photo – Seamus Hughes Kennedy pictured with his sister Annie after he collected his European team gold medal

Niamh McEvoy and Seamus Hughes Kennedy are both well-positioned heading into Sunday’s individual final, while the Irish Junior (U18) team are also in a strong position ahead of their team final on Saturday.

Speaking after Ireland were crowned European Champions, Alison Corbally, Director General of the Irish Horse Board said:

“I am absolutely delighted for Irish Gold medal winning European Young Rider team members. Many congratulations to the riders, their coaches, horse owners and parents, and team manager James Kiernan on such an emphatic win. James has been waiting on this Gold!! A special word must go to the breeders of the two wonderful Irish-bred horses, ESI Rocky (ISH) and Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick (ISH) and their breeders Andrew Hughes from Ennisnag Stud and Dorothea Wilson respectively. Both horses were produced through the Irish Sport Horse Showjumping leagues and Irish production systems and have been retained for Ireland and Irish riders by their dedicated owners Robin Bingham and Clare Hughes, congratulations to all concerned. Best of luck also to all the Irish athletes over the rest of the weekend.”

A very proud James Kernan could not hide his delight after finally adding a gold medal to his list of achievements as Irish Youth Show Jumping team manager.

“Up to today I had never won a gold medal as team manager. I had won silver and won bronze. I just wanted the gold today and I am so, so happy – especially the way the kids were going all week. They were brilliant, their horses were brilliant, just to get it done with three fences to spare – it’s just amazing. The great Michel Robert played us a great compliment afterwards and told me that our Irish riders and horses just stood out, which is special coming from him.”

James Kernan added:
“I would like to stress how important it is that we invest in the youth. These youth athletes are jumping on our senior teams now even thought they are still jumping at underage level. If we don’t invest in our youth, we wont have a strong team of riders for the future, its as simple as that.”

ESI Rocky (ISH) 2015 gelding by Stakkato Gold (HANN) out of Clonaslea (BWP) by For Pleasure (HANN) Breeder: Ennisnag Stud owned by Clare Hughes ridden by Seamus Hughes-Kennedy.
Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick (ISH) – 2010 mare by Limmerick (HOLST) out of Go Luckey (ISH) by Lux Z (HANN). Breeder: Dorothea Wilson. Owner: Robin Bingham. Rider: Niamh McEvoy (IRL).