Kildare’s Camilla Speirs rounded off her 2016 season on Portersize Just A Jiff with a sixth-place finish in the FEI eventing classic held at Pau in south western France over the weekend.
The combination improved from 32nd after dressage to lie in 11th place following Saturday’s cross-country phase where, four seconds over time, they picked up 1.6 time penalties. In Sunday’s concluding show jumping phase they recorded one of just seven clear rounds to complete on 61.1.
In May, Speirs and Portersize Just A Jiff were also best of the Irish when ninth at Badminton; they travelled to Rio de Janeiro as reserves to the eventing team. The rider owns the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, which stands just 158cms, in partnership with her mother Bridget.
Portersize Just A Jiff is by the Connemara stallion Crosskeys Rebel and was bred in Co Antrim by former international event rider Philip White out of the ISH mare Mizen Talent. His half-brother Texan Style represented Ireland recently at Boekelo in The Netherlands.
Based in Co Kildare, Galway's Cathal Daniels, the youngest rider on the Irish squad, also enjoyed an excellent result, finishing 12th (61.1) in his first competition at four-star level on Margaret Kinsella's home-bred ISH mare Rioghan Rua with which he had considerable success at underage level. Best-placed of the squad after dressage, Sarah Ennis also finished inside the top 20 on a score of 72.6 with the ISH gelding Horseware Stellor Rebound.
French competitor Maxime Livio ensured a home win when he guided the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Qalao Des Mers to a clear final show jumping round. The 29-year-old, who was one of only two riders to get home clear within the time across the country on Saturday, completed on his dressage score of 45.3.
This event at Pau, the first leg of the FEI Classics 2016/17 season, looked like going the way of Michael Jung whose impressive top level cv was missing this title. However, the German Olympic and European champion had to settle for the runner-up slot for the second year in a row. He was last to jump on Sunday with fischerRocana but the nine-year-old lowered two fences and, on a score of 52.2, dropped to third behind his stable-companion fischerTakinou (52.1).
Speirs and Daniels are now headed to Le Lion d’Angers where they are members of the Irish squad competing at the world eventing championships for young horses which starts with dressage on Thursday.
In show jumping, Meath-based Cian O'Connor finished best of the Irish in the first leg of the five-star Longines indoor World Cup series at Oslo in Norway. O'Connor and the 10-year-old stallion Good Luck were one of 20 combinations who jumped clear in the opening round to advance to the jump-off. There they had one fence down to finish 10th behind Italy's Alberto Zorzi riding Fair Light van t Heike.
At the two-star French show at St Lo, Co Down's Dermott Lennon finished third in the Grand Prix with Valent while Kilkenny's Anna Carway finished sixth in the Chevenez Grand Prix in Switzerland with Claricella. Damien Dixon rounded off his trip to Cagnes-Sur-Mer with a fourth-place finish on Quelqu'un Des Mets in the Grand Prix while Harry Marshall finished sixth in the two-star Dutch Grand Prix at Asten riding Barcelona.
Across the Atlantic, Cork-born Shane Sweetnam partnered the eight-year-old gelding Main Road to finish second in Saturday's $130,000 three-star Suncast Grand Prix at Tryon in North Carolina. One of six riders to record a double clear in the eight-horse jump-off, the Cork native stopped the clock on 37.982 with 35.836 being the winning time of the USA's Andy Kocher on Zantos II. Sweetnam landed Sunday's $25,000 Tryon Resort Grand Prix on Siboney Ranch's Holsteiner stallion Cornwall.