Equestrian: Paul Kennedy builds on Ireland’s strong start in Gijon

Richard Howley will ride anchor leg for Ireland in Friday’s Nations’ Cup competition

The Irish have made a great start to the Spanish five-star jumping show in Gijon, with Paul Kennedy's win in Thursday evening's speed class following that of Billy Twomey on Wednesday.

Limerick-born Kennedy posted the fastest of 22 clear rounds in Thursday’s 1.50m speed competition when home in 66.49 on his mother Jane’s home-bred Cartown Danger Mouse, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Harlequin du Carel. Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya finished second on Carlo 273 (67.27) with Britain’s Harry Charles claiming third place on Victor (67.31).

Twomey's victory came in the first big class of the show, Wednesday's 1.50m two-phase competition, where, riding the 15-year-old gelding Diaghilev, the Cork native stopped the clock on 28.06 with Co Sligo's Richard Howley finishing second on the mare Electra B (28.07).

On board Morgan Kent's Dolores, Howley will ride the anchor leg for Ireland in Friday's Nations' Cup competition. Also named by Irish development team manager Michael Blake are Tipperary's Trevor Breen with Willy Matton's Bombay, Waterford's Anthony Condon with his own and John Hales's SFS Aristio and Galway's Michael Duffy with Graham and Ben Dalton's ESF Top Contender.


Ireland will face teams from France, Britain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Spain in a competition that gets underway at 12.30pm Irish time.

Across the Atlantic, in Bridgehampton, New York, Ireland's Shane Sweetnam on Cyklon (62.48) and Richie Moloney with Rocksy Music (63.31) finished third and fourth in Thursday's 1.45m speed competition. The 46-runner class was won by the USA's Leslie Burr-Howard riding Donna Speciale (59.71) ahead of Mexico's Santiago Lambre on Dingeman (61.79).

At home, the main jumping action this weekend takes place in Barnadown outside Gorey with the staging of the Irish Breeders Classic.

Qualification began on Thursday for three championships finals. That for seven and eight-year-olds takes place on Saturday while that for four-year-olds and then the combined five and six-year-old final will be held on Sunday. The show is also holding the final leg of the Show Jumping Ireland national 1.40m Grand Prix series on Saturday and the last round of the TRM/HSI New Heights 1.50m Grand Prix series on Sunday.

The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, one of just six four-star events held annually throughout the world, started with the first session of dressage on Thursday. Overnight, five British riders (three of them mounted on Irish Sport Horses) topped the field with the lead being held by the World No 1 Oliver Townend who is on a penalty score of 27.2 with the 13-year-old Ghareeb gelding MHS King Joules.

Two Irish riders rode their tests on Thursday. England-based Austin O'Connor is currently in 10th place on Lucky Contender (32.4) with Bandon's Michael Ryan lying 23rd on Dunlough Striker (35.7). North Co Dublin's Ciaran Glynn is first into the arena on Friday morning with November Night, England-based Elizabeth Power goes at 10.18am on Soladoun while Joseph Murphy is second-last into the arena on Friday afternoon with Sportsfield Othello.

There is a strong representation of Irish riders competing in Friday’s finals of the Dubarry Burghley young event horse series for four and five-year-olds.