Irish showjumpers continue to shine on world stage

Irish riders maintained their impressive form in international competitions around the globe at the weekend, with a several top placings in Europe and North America.

The Irish Show Jumping team claimed a runner-up finish in Friday’s three-star Nations Cup at Prague in the Czech Republic. Michael Blake’s team of Shane Breen, Matt Garrigan, David Simpson and Cian O’Connor, finished on a two round total of four faults – the same score as the United Arab Emirates, but with Ireland finishing in a faster time. Victory went to The Netherlands as the only team to finish on a zero score.

Cork’s Simon McCarthy was also in exceptional form in Prague, scoring two wins in the space of 24 hours. McCarthy guided the 11-year-old gelding Narcotique V/H Dingenshof to top spot in the 1m45 speed class, finishing a second and a half ahead of French rider Victor Laudet. One day earlier, Simon McCarthy and Gotcha galloped to victory in the 1m50 jump-off class at the same venue.

Co Down’s Conor Swail secured a share of first place in Sunday’s five-star 1m50 West Canadian Cup at Spruce Meadows in Canada.
Riding the 13-year-old gelding Gamble, Swail finished the second round jump-off clear in 36.81 seconds – exactly the same time as Mexico’s Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane and Martialis. Limerick’s Paul O’Shea also took third place for Ireland with Little Magic D’Asschaut.

Thursday’s opening day of the ‘Pan American’ presented by ROLEX at Spruce Meadows in Canada saw Galway’s David O’Brien score a commanding victory in the feature five-star 1m50 speed class. Riding the 10-year-old gelding Estoril Delle Roane, (Cristallo x Hattrick), O’Brien jumped clear in 59.32 seconds to finish almost four seconds ahead of Mexican runner-up Antonio Maurer and Aircraft One (63.12).

Sligo’s Darragh Kerins and the Eve Jobs-owned 13-year-old gelding Lissino (Guardus Llmbus x San Patrignano Cassini) finished as runners-up in Saturday’s $182,000 Grand Prix at the World Equestrian Centre four-star fixture in Ocala, Florida, USA. Just five combinations made it into the jump-off with Kerins jumping double clear in 38.23 seconds to finish just under two seconds behind American winner Aaron Vale with Gray’s Inn (36.32).

Offaly’s Darragh Kenny powered to victory in Saturday’s 1m50 speed class at Geesteren in The Netherlands. Riding the 13-year-old stallion Chic Chic, Kenny finished almost four seconds ahead of the next best finisher Hans Thorben Rüder (GER) with Singu. Tipperary’s Denis Lynch grabbed fourth place with Mr Boombastic and the pair went on to finish third in Sunday’s feature Grand Prix.

Co Louth’s Mark McAuley and the Denis Hickey-bred GRS Lady Amaro (ISH) finished sixth overall in the five-star 1m60 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Stockholm in Sweden. First to to in a 10-horse jump-off, they finished with one fence down in a time of 45.60 seconds. The winners prize of €165,000 went to Belgium’s Oliver Philippaerts and H&M Miro Olivier with the fastest of four double clears.

This coming week the focus moves to the world famous Aachen arena in Germany. The Irish team for Thursday’s Mercedes Benz Nations Cup at Aachen in Germany has been announced and includes three of the four Irish riders that have been selected for the upcoming Olympic Games, with Paris-bound Bertram Allen, Shane Sweetnam and Cian O’Connor, joined in Aachen by Denis Lynch