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Equestrian: Paul O’Shea victorious in North Carolina

Meanwhile, Tony Kennedy leads the Irish challenge heading into Sunday’s concluding show in France

Paul O’Shea partnered Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu to win Saturday night’s €130,000 three-star Grand Prix at the Tryon International Equestrian Centre. Photo: Getty Images

Limerick-born Paul O’Shea partnered Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu to win Saturday night’s €130,000 three-star Grand Prix at the Tryon International Equestrian Centre in North Carolina, venue for next year’s World Equestrian Games.

Based in the USA since 2011, O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, a 10-year-old gelding by Silverstone VDL, were one of 10 combinations to progress to the second round of this 1.50m competition. Against the clock, the Irish pair were home clear in 34.851 to claim the top prize off almost $43,000 from the USA’s Shawn Casady and Valinski S (35.105) and his compatriot Margie Engle with Dicas (35.250).

O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu have been together for three years. “This horse was on the winning Nations’ Cup team in Florida this year and went double clear,” commented the rider. “He’s a fantastic horse, great mind, great to ride, and just a lovely horse.”

In eventing, Co Meath’s Tony Kennedy leads the Irish challenge heading into Sunday’s concluding show jumping phase of the four-star event in Pau, France.

Kennedy and his one-eyed Rantis Diamond gelding Westeria Lane picked up 2.8 time penalties over Saturday’s hugely influential cross-country course to move up to 13th place from 56th after dressage where they had achieved a penalty score of 58.3. Two other Irish combinations remain in the class - Aidan Keogh on Master Tredstep (21st) and James O’Haire with China Doll (32nd) - but Jonty Evans (Cooley Rorkes Drift), Aoife Clark (Fernhill Adventure) and Paul Donovan (Sportsfield Pretty Lady) all failed to complete the cross-country phase.