Fantastic five-star Kentucky win for Cooley Rosalent (ISH) crowns exceptional weekend for Irish equestrianism

The Irish-bred Cooley Rosalent (ISH) and Oliver Townend (GBR)

An outstanding performance from the 10-year-old Irish mare Cooley Rosalent (ISH), bred in Co Armagh by Woods Rosbotham and ridden by Britain’s Oliver Townend, saw them score a massive victory at the weekend in the world-famous five-star Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event held in Lexington, USA.

The pair jumped a flawless final Show Jumping round after adding just 0.4 time penalties in Saturday’s Cross Country. Their final score of 31.8 saw them finish ahead of overnight leaders Tom McEwen (GBR) and JL Dublin who had to settle for runner-up spot after lowering one fence and picking up 1.2 time penalties in the final jumping phase.

World No.1 Oliver Townend has always been a huge fan of Irish-bred hoses, having won multiple medals at Championship and Olympic level with Irish horses such as Ballaghmor Class (ISH). In Cooley Rosalent, Townend appears to have found his next Irish superstar.

“I was fairly upset with myself after the dressage, and thought, the last three times up until this we’ve always gone home from here [Kentucky] with a win,” Townend said.
“I kind of thought to myself that it’s going to be a bit depressing going home on that plane and having not won. So I just gave myself a kick into gear and I knew she is an incredible horse and an incredible galloper and from the feel of her and her pedigree – her mother won the Scottish Midlands Grand National, so there’s no excuse in being too slow. I had a plan in my head after Maryland last year. I mucked that one up. She should have won that one but I got in her way in the Show Jumping. I just had a very clear picture in my mind of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.”

Irish Horse Board Director General Alison Corbally pictured with Oliver Townend (GBR) after he won 2024 Defender Kentucky Three Day Event with the Irish-bred Cooley Rosalent (ISH).

Townend added:

“I couldn’t be more proud of the horse. We have had her since she was four-years-old. It’s a great boost again for Cooley Farm. Richard {Sheane] said if I did the double last time I was in this position with Cooley Master Class (ISH) and Cooley SRS (ISH) at Badminton that he would give me a horse, so I think it’s about time he came through with that,” Townend quipped.

“She (Cooley Rosalent) feels like she definitely loves her job in all three phases. I don’t think there is a chink in the armour. I don’t think there is any weakness at all. Any mistakes that you see happening is purely down to greenness or lack of experience at this stage but for me, she is one of the best horses I have ever ridden.”

When asked what he will do with Cooley Rosalent now, Oliver said: “Wrap her in cotton wool and hope we get a phone call. [for the Paris Olympic Games]

The Gary Doherty-bred Cooley Nutcracker (ISH) finished in eighth place in the CCI5-L with Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA), while Azure (ISH), bred by Elizabeth Power, finished 15th with Phillip Dutton (USA). Adding to the Irish success, the 15-year-old gelding Off The Record (ISH), bred in Co Cavan by Peter Brady finished third overall with William Coleman (USA) in the CCI4-S. Off The Record (ISH) finished on a final score of 30.9 and just one penalty behind the winner Diabolo who was also ridden by William Coleman (USA). Four Irish-bred horses finished inside the top 10 in the four-star competition with HHS Blake (ISH) finishing fifth, Cooley Quicksilver (ISH) sixth and Shanroe Cooley (ISH) ninth.

(Photo: Owners and connections of Off The Record (ISH) pictured with IHB Director General Alison Corbally at an IHB promotion of Irish horses this week at Defender Kentucky Three Day Event)

Kentucky also hosted four-star international Show Jumping action over the weekend and again Irish horses and riders dominated.

Co Down’s Conor Swail guided Caturano to victory in the $225,000 Kentucky Invitational four-star Grand Prix, while the Harold McGahern-bred Rincoola Milsean (ISH) scored another impressive finish when taking third spot with Charlotte Jacobs (USA). The podium finish came less than 24 hours after Rincoola Milsean (ISH) took victory in the Welcome Stakes at the same venue.

The Irish Horse Board attended the event in Kentucky to promote Irish-bred horses and to offer assistance to potential buyers in purchasing Irish horses and speaking afterwards, Irish Horse Board Director General Alison Corbally said:

“Kentucky turned green this weekend with the exceptional performances of Irish-bred horses in both disciplines. It was very special and a little emotional to have the late Harold McGahern’s Rincoola Milsean win the Show Jumping class on Friday night and a very close third in the Grand Prix. This “Pocket Rocket”, as described by his daughter Angela, is the result of generations of astute breeding by Harold, as Milsean is out of Rincoola Abu, Harold’s home-bred Grand Prix winning mare who competed successfully for the Army Equitation school with Comdt Gerry Flynn. A delighted Charlotte said of Milsean “He is just getting better and better in these big ring environments – he was fantastic this evening”.

Alison Corbally added:
“Cooley Roselant stole hearts by storming around Cross Country with ease and coming out as fresh as a daisy, to make the tough Show Jumping course look like a schooling round. Jumping clear, she and Ollie put the pressure on the overnight leaders, who each faulted. This fantastic 10-year-old mare was bred by Woods Rosbotham from Co Down. She is out of a diminutive but classy Roselier mare Bellaney Jewel and by their own 1.60m Show Jumping stallion Valent who Lisa Rosbotham used to compete. Both achievements represent the best of Irish breeding and strong family rural-based connections in achieving such success. Both Irish horses have a very bright future in the sport, and we look forward to following their progress. The overall level of success of Irish horses this weekend boosted the welcome and support the Irish Horse Board received while Stateside, witnessed by significant interest in Irish horses, attending Irish equestrian events and all things Irish.

(Photo: Irish Horse Board Director General Alison Corbally made a special presentation to Charlotte Jacobs as the highest-placed Irish-bred finisher in the Kentucky Grand Prix with Rincoola Milsean (ISH))

Cooley Rosalent (ISH)
– 2014 mare by Valent (KWPN) out of Bellaney Jewel (TB) by Roselier (TB). Breeder: J W Rosbotham (Armagh). Rider: Oliver Townend

Cooley Nutcracker (ISH) [was Ballyshan Contender] – 2014 gelding by Tolan R (KWPN) out of Ballyshan Cleopatra (AES) by Cobra (HOLST). Breeder: Gary Doherty. Rider: Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA)

Azure (ISH) – 2012 mare by Omar (BWP) out of Cavalie Roselier (ISH) by Cavalier Royale (HOLST). Breeder: Elizabeth Power, Rider: Phillip Dutton (USA)

Off the Record (ISH)[was Cooley Stateside] – 2009 gelding by VDL Arkansas (KWPN) out of Drumagoland Bay (ISH) by Ard Ohio (KWPN). Breeder: Peter G Brady (Cavan). Rider: William Coleman (USA)

HSH Blake (ISH)[was Galwaybay Blake & Galwaybay HSH Redfield] – 2015 gelding by Tolan R (KWPN) out of Doughiska Lass (ISH) by Kannan (KWPN). Breeder: Justin Burke. Rider: Caroline Pamukcu (USA)

Cooley Quicksilver (ISH) [was OSH Del Boy] – 2011 gelding by Womanizer (KWPN) out of Kylemore Crystal (P)(ISH)[TIH] by Vregan Diamond (ID). Breeder: Alan O’Brien, Co Galway. Rider: Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA)

Shanroe Cooley (ISH)[was Shanroe Italk] – 2015 gelding by Dallas VDL (BWP) out of Shanroe Saphire (ISH) by Condios (HOLST). Breeder: Anthony Smyth (Down). Rider: Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA)

Rincoola Milsean (ISH) – 2013 gelding by Aldatus Z (OLD) out of Rincoola Abu (ISH)[TIH] by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Harold McGahern, Co. Longford Rider: Charlotte Jacobs (USA).