Irish dominate Young Horse Finals on St Patrick’s weekend in Florida

Philip McGuane and My Lady van de Krekel, winners of the $25,000 Lövsta Stuteri 7-Year-Old Developing Jumper Series Final at WEF in Florida. Photo © Sportfot

Irish Show Jumping riders claimed a clean sweep of the 2024 young horse finals at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Florida this weekend, with a hat-trick of victories in the five, six and seven-year-old competitions.

Co Clare’s Philip McGuane piloted the Evergate Stables owned My Lady van de Krekel to win the $25,000 Lövsta Future Challenge 7-Year-Old Developing Jumper Series Final.

The Lövsta Future Challenge is a well-established Swedish concept for talent development aimed at young grand prix horses and U25 riders in both dressage and jumping. The development tour’s vision is to provide the best possible conditions to strive for the highest level of international show jumping and hosted finals during WEF’s Horseware Ireland sponsored Week 10 at Wellington International.

“She’s super careful, not very big but she has a lot of qualities,” said McGuane of the mare. “Harrie Smolders tried her and really liked her so we only saw the videos and ended up buying her. She came over to us in August of last year.”

McGuane’s role with Evergate Stables has been to develop their young horses. He previously rode for Swiss Olympian Beat Mändli and U.S. rider Katie Dinan. Hailing from Ireland, the development of young stock is a staple of his career.

“Series’ like this are super important,” he said. “It’s very good money, competitive, had good courses, and nice rings. The numbers are growing every year in these classes. I’ve been here five years now and it’s doubled since. It’s more accessible in the U.S. now and we’re very lucky.”

Ninja BF and Kevin Gallagher Prove Best in North Star 6-Year-Old Jumper Final

After ten weeks of competition across the six-year-old young jumper division, the top 25 qualifying horses took to the International Arena to claim their final standings in the season’s $15,000 Final. Coming out on top was Sligo’s Kevin Gallagher and Ninja BF, owned by Richard Kirby. Gallagher rode the 6-year-old Canadian-bred Dutch Warmblood gelding by Chacoon Blue to victory with a double-clear in 40.724 seconds in the two-round jump-off final.

Ninja BF and Kevin Gallagher, winners of the $15,000 North Star 6-Year-Old Jumper Final. Photo © Sportfot

“The horse has been so consistent all season so it’s brilliant that he took the win today,” said Gallagher. Gallagher was given the ride by friend and horse owner, Richard Kirby, who bought the horse at a young age from breeder John van den Bosch of Bosch Farms in Red Deer, Alberta.

“This was the plan from the start of the season,” said Gallagher. “We looked at a lot of the Wednesday classes to try and save the horse. Many of the weeks he only jumped on Wednesday to get qualified for this. This was the main goal so it’s brilliant to get it done.

“I’m used to the European system and the young horses are such a vital part of it. The amount of young horses that come from Ireland here and jump to an FEI level is incredible. Two years ago, I was here with Charlotte Jacobs and I won the five year old final. Since then in the last two years, the level of young horses has jumped incredibly. People are putting a lot more time into producing young horses and it’s just great to see.”

Following Ninja BF on the podium was Andrew Barone (USA) and Punch Line, owned by Emily Ryan. Barone rode the gelding by Arizona ODF to a second place finish with a clear jump-off time of 41.219 seconds. Finishing third in the final was Santiago VH Netehof, piloted by Mayo’s Cormac Hanley. Owned by Heathman Farm, LLC, the gelding by Untouchable jumped double-clear with Hanley, finishing the jump-off course in 41.355 seconds.

“It’s definitely starting to change. There’s a good system here,” said Gallagher of the young horse classes being introduced to the American circuit. “The young horses jump in a different arena almost every day, the height of the jumps are manageable, and it’s a nice way of producing them. It’s important to keep the horses in a relaxed environment and never under pressure. They start to find more scope, they start to learn it in a very nice way throughout the season so it’s a brilliant part of WEF now.”

Gallagher and his fiancé, Kelly Arani, have recently started their own farm, Marigot Bay Farm, where Ninja BF has been in program with them since the start of the season. Gallagher, a former rider for Ireland’s Greg Broderick, will continue his process of building up the young horses in his program, while also diving into the teaching side of his new business venture.

In addition to winner’s honors, Ninja BF was presented with the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award by Laura Fetterman.

Daniel Kerins Rides Homebred Lisonas Gold (ISH) To Win Manestream 5-Year-Old Jumper Final

The youngest group of horses took to the International Arena on Friday for their final performance of the season. Twenty of the top qualifying horses competed in the $10,000 Manestream 5-Year-Old Jumper Final, their championship class of WEF 2024. The Final gave the young horses a chance of exposure in the International Arena, as well as experience in a classic jump-off format.

Daniel Kerins & Lisonas Gold (ISH), winners of the $10,000 Manestream 5-Year-Old Jumper Final. Photo © Sportfot

It was a special day for 18-year-old Daniel Kerins and his Co Sligo family, as their own homebred gelding, Lisonas Gold (ISH), took the final series win. The Stakkato Gold son was bred out of the Kerins family’s own Lisona (ISH), a mare of Darragh Kerins piloted at the five-star Nations Cup level for Ireland before U.S. athlete Jessican Springsteen got the ride.

Lisona (ISH) earned Nations Cup wins for Darragh at both Dublin in the Aga Khan and Hickstead throughout their time together. The now 23-year-old mare has been the gift that keeps on giving, bringing another winner, Lisonas Gold (ISH), into the family.

The 5-year-old jumped a double clear performance, taking the win with a jump-off time of 36.409 seconds.

“He was bred by my dad and Maarten Huygens in Ireland where my uncle Richard produced him up until his four-year-old year,” said Daniel. “Around early December last year we brought him over here, and ever since we gave him his first jump, it was just unreal how similar he was to his mother; the carefulness and the way that he was so mature and carried himself. I don’t ride too many young horses, but he’s definitely one of the best ones I’ve ever ridden”

The gelding continued his impressive ways, not only entering the International Arena for the first time, but also entering his first jump-off with Kerins. “He did a really good job. He really rose to the challenge when I let loose because it was pretty fast,” said Daniel.

“There’s not many young horse classes in America so it’s great that we can bring a horse over from Ireland and still have a chance to produce over here and do finals like this,” concluded Daniel. “That means so much.”

Daniel Kerins & Lisonas Gold, with Darragh and Sarah Kerins are presented as winners of the $10,000 Manestream 5-Year-Old Jumper Final. Photo © Sportfot


Lisonas Gold (ISH) 2019 gelding by Stakkato Gold (HANN), out of Lisona (ISH), by OBOS Quality 004 (OLD). Owner/breeder: Martin Hugyens/Darragh Kerins