Equestrian: Irish riders have to settle for placings in Florida
Home favourite Mclain Ward takes top honours with Brian Cournane second
Brian Cournane and Penelope Cruz. Photograph: Sportfot
Three Irish riders were among the six who progressed to the second round of the five-star Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida on Saturday night but they had to settle for the placings as victory went to the host nation’s Mclain Ward.
The dual-Olympic team gold medallist took the lion’s share of the $401,000 prize-fund when recording the faster of two double clears on HH Azur (39.85) with Kerry native, Brian Cournane, slotting into second on the Irish Sport Horse mare, Penelope Cruz (44.19).
The USA’s Alex Granato finished third having lowered one fence with Carlchen W in a good time of 38.87 seconds while, also having one pole down against the clock, Co Offaly-born Darragh Kenny placed fourth on his own and Ann Thompson’s 11-year-old Zangersheide stallion Romeo 88. Having picked up eight faults in the jump-off round, Derry’s Daniel Coyle had to settle for sixth on Ariel Grange’s 10-year-old Zangersheide mare Legacy (43.36).
Cournane is now in his third season riding Penelope Cruz, a 12-year-old by Ustinov which he owns in partnership with his parents-on-law, Christine and Robert Stiller. “Tonight, she really felt on form and jumped great,” said Cournane of the bay who was bred in Co Derry by Liam McKee out of the Peter Pan mare, Tendelin. “It was very clever course building,” he continued. “The water jump came up early and got the horses really open. The skinny at the in-gate really got a lot of people. The combination was also very difficult.”
Earlier, at Gothenberg in Sweden, Co Tipperary-born Denis Lynch also filled the runner-up slot in the night’s featured five-star 1.55m jump-off class where, again, only two riders recorded double clears. Riding Onyx Consulting’s 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding GC Chopin’s Bushi, Lynch stopped the clock on 39.27 as Germany’s Daniel Deusser won in 38.52 with Calisto Blue.
At three-star level, Co Tyrone’s Jonathan Smyth landed Saturday’s 1.40m small tour Grand Prix at Vilamoura in Portugal on the Doherty family’s home-bred ISH gelding Crystal Tom, a 10-year-old chestnut by Silvano out of the Graf Magna mare, Lady Graf.