Ireland’s Mikey Pender and HHS Ocala (ISH) crowned 5-year-old World Champions as Irish horses and riders dominate podium

(l-r) Ireland’s Niamh McEvoy, Mikey Pender and Ger O’Neill made it an all-Irish podium in the 5-year-old Show Jumping horses at the 2023 FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium (Photo: Irish Horse Board)

A stunning performance from Irish horses and riders today (Sunday) saw Ireland fill all three places on the podium in the World Final for 5-year-old Show Jumping horses at the 2023 FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium.

A massive 235 horses and riders from around the globe started the two qualifiers for 5-year-old horses on Thursday and Friday, with 12 Irish combinations making it through to today’s final. The final saw six of those Irish pairings make it into to what proved to be a thrilling second round jump-off, where Kildare’s Mikey Pender produced what proved an unbeatable round with HHS Ocala (ISH) who was bred by Marion Hughes and Miquel Bravo in Co Kilkenny. Pender crossed the line clear in 37.22 seconds to finish half-a-second ahead of Tyrone’s Niamh McEvoy who took runner-up spot with the Ronan Rothwell-bred Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH) in 37.72.

An all-Irish podium saw the Gary Doherty-bred Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH) finish third with Kilkenny’s Ger O’Neill after they were clear in 39.21. Carlow’s Jason Foley finished in eighth place with SVS Symphony (ISH) who was bred by Brian Hutchinson. Rider: Jason Foley, while Kilkenny’s Emma O’Dwyer made it five Irish in the top 10 when taking 10th place with BP Millionaire (HOLST).

Irish Horse Board Director General Alison Corbally commented:

“Congratulations to gold medal winning rider Mikey Pender – twice so close in silver at these championships so it was lovely to see him win today with the homebred HHS Ocala. Many congratulations to Marion Hughes and Miguel Bravo who bred HHS Ocala and to Maria Vozone who did such a wonderful job producing HHS Ocala back at home in Ireland when Mikey was away on International duty. Congratulations also to Ronan Rothwell from Boleybawn Sport Horses. Ronan is no stranger to breeding success and bred the runner-up Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH) who was brilliantly ridden by Niamh McEvoy. It was also a special result for Gary Doherty, breeder of Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH), Gary has bred many good horses but this is an extra special one who took third place with Ger O’Neill who added to his incredible list of podium finishes at these championships. To fill all three places on the podium is a phenomenal achievement and congratulations to all the Irish breeders, owners and riders who were part of this success.”

1st HHS Ocala (ISH)
2018 gelding By Urano De Cartigny (SF) out of Hera Van’t Roosakker (BWP), by Wandor Van De Mispelaere (BWP). Bred & Owned by Bravo Hughes LTD. Rider: Michael Pender

2nd Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH) 2018 stallion by Dominator 2000 Z out of Arina (KWPN), by Crown Z. Bred by Ronan Rothwell. Owned by GBBS International Ltd & Ronan Rothwell. Rider: Niamh McEvoy

3rd Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH)
2018 gelding by Celtic Hero B Z (Zang) out of Ballyshan Luximportant (ISH) by Lux Z (Hann). Bred by Gary Doherty, Co. Donegal. Owner: Martin Egan. Rider: Ger O’Neill (IRL)

8th SVS Symphony (ISH) 2018 mare by Comme Il Faut 5 (WESTF) out of SVS Attraction (ISH), by Air Jordan (KWPN). Bred and owned by Brian Hutchinson. Rider: Jason Foley.

10th BP Millionaire (HOLST) Million Dollar x Centurion. Owned by Equine Evolve, Fergus Lawlor. Bred by Kloes Volker. Ridden by Emma O’Dwyer