Equestrian: Irish riders reach semi-finals of Champions League in Prague

The Miami Celtics led the way with two Irish riders in their lineup

Michael Duffy. Photo: Getty Images

Michael Duffy. Photo: Getty Images

 

Three teams with Irish riders in their line-up have made it through to the semi-finals of the five-star Global Champions League playoffs following Thursday night’s quarter finals in the O2 Arena, Prague.

All 12 teams who lined-out picked up €100,000 apiece but there will no more opportunities to add to that amount for the Hamburg Giants, New York Empire (owned by Georgina Bloomberg), Berlin Eagles and Doha Falcons whose interest in the team competition in the Czech Republic came to an end on Thursday.

Of the eight teams who made it through, the winners on a score of four faults were the Miami Celtics who started two Irish riders on Thursday. They were the team’s Under 25 representative, Galway’s Michael Duffy, who was clear on the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars, and Co Tipperary native Shane Breen who picked up four faults with Ipswich van de Wolfsakker.

New to the GCL this year, Britain’s William Whitaker also produced a clear round for the Miami Celtics on RMF Cadeau de Muze which is owned by the Rushy Marsh Farm of Irish-American businessman Frank McCourt (co-founder of the GCL) and his wife Monica. Watching on from the sidelines on Thursday was American team member, Jessica Springsteen.

Qualifying in fourth place were the Paris Panthers whose line-up featured Co Offaly’s Darragh Kenny (Balou du Reventon) while Co Meath’s Cian O’Connor (PSG Final) is also progressing to the next round as a new member of last year’s second-placed team, Valkenswaard United.

The semi-finals take place on Friday night (over a 1.60m speed track starting at 8pm local time) when the eight teams which qualified out of the quarter-finals will also take on the top four from the season’s League who were given a bye to the second round - London Knights, St Tropez Pirates, Madrid In Motion (winners of the first GCL Super Cup at the Prague playoffs last year) and the Shanghai Swans for whom Co Cork’s Shane Sweetnam will line-out on Chaqui Z.

Competing at two-star level in Lier, Belgium, Co Wexford’s Harry Allen finished second in Thursday night’s 1.40m speed competition on Karina Rotenberg’s Dis Moi Tout de Clairbois (60.92). The 111-runner class was won by Brazil’s João Victor riding the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Castle B Explosion.

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