Equestrian: Two Irish riders steer Irish Sport Horse mares to gold

Jason Foley and Seamus Hughes Kennedy both victorious in Belgium on Sunday

Jason Foley (C) and Mikey Pender (L) stand on the podium after winning Gold and Silver medals at the FEI WBFSH Show Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in Lanaken. Photograph: Margie McLoone

Jason Foley (C) and Mikey Pender (L) stand on the podium after winning Gold and Silver medals at the FEI WBFSH Show Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in Lanaken. Photograph: Margie McLoone

 

Two Irish Sport Horse mares, both bred in Co Kilkenny and ridden by two of the country’s leading young riders, won gold medals at the finals of the World Breeding Championships for young show jumping horses at Lanaken, Belgium on Sunday.

First up, Co Carlow’s Jason Foley (18) landed the five-year-old 1.30m final on board Rockwell RC, a bay by Kannan which was bred by Ronan Byrne out of the Guidam mare Urban Sea. The combination recorded one of seven double clears and, in coming home in 37.72 seconds in the 11-strong jump-off round, finished just ahead of Kildare’s Mikey Pender riding Hiltrup Sporthorses’ Chacco Bay (38.15) with Britain’s Emma Stoker claiming the bronze medal on board Skylandria Z (38.84).

Foley admitted that he was struggling a bit with his steering in the jump-off, but for a very good reason. “I dislocated my shoulder three weeks ago in a fall. I didn’t actually think that I could make it here, so I hope the hospital doesn’t see this, but I thought, let’s try it and I was lucky that it went okay!”

Owner Sean Cubbit was delighted with the result. “I bought the mare last year from Ryan Crumley, and back in January she came home to me to have a little rest. After I put Jason on her I knew they were a great match. Their first big show was in Dublin where they were an unlucky second, but today it was just perfect!” he said.

The second gold medal was presented to Kilkenny’s Seamus Hughes Kennedy following his win in the seven-year-old 1.45m final on his mother Clare’s Cuffesgrange Cavadora.

The Z Wellie 72 mare was bred by Eamonn Sheehan out of Cuffesgrange Cavalidam (by Luidam) on which the now 17-year-old rider won the inaugural running of the FEI Ponies Trophy Final in December 2017 and has since gone on to European pony championships success under Max Wachman.

Hughes Kennedy, who was last to jump, posted the fastest of four double clears (38.58) on Sunday to beat Brazil’s Victor Mariano Luminatti on Cipollini Second Life Z (38.70) and Germany’s Marco Kutscher with Policeman (39.63) into the silver and bronze medal positions.

“Last year Cavadaro finished fourth in the six-year-old final with Ger O’Neill in the saddle. They were clear and in the lead until the last few competitors but just missed out on a medal, so I’m very pleased we’ve earned gold today,” said the winning rider.

Mikey Pender (19), who had won four medals at previous editions of these championships, won a second silver on Sunday when partnering Bravo Hughes Ltd’s Carndento 933 mare MHS Cardenta into the runner-up spot (40.74) in the six-year-old final. This was won by Germany’s Katrin Echermann on Chao Lee (40.64) while Belgium’s Jeroen Appelen took the bronze on Nero de Semilly N (43.54).

“This has been a memorable World Breeding Championships for our horses and riders,” commented Horse Sport Ireland’s CEO, Ronan Murphy. “To take home two gold and two silver medals against the best young horses in the world is another huge boost for the Irish Sport Horse industry. I want to congratulate all our riders, owners and, of course, the breeders of all our horses and the entire team who represented Ireland brilliantly at these Championships this week.”

Elsewhere on Sunday, Sligo’s Richard Howley finished sixth with Chinook in the 1.55m Grand Prix in St Tropez, France but there was disappointment in Caledon, Canada for Daniel Coyle. The Derry native failed to advance to the jump-off in the final of the Caledon Cup with his Irish Sport Horse mare CHS Krooze (on which he won Friday night’s qualifier) and although on the same number of points (37) as Canada’s Amy Millar, lost out not only on the Cup but the inaugural $10,000 rider bonus.

Elsewhere Horse Sport Ireland’s senior show jumping team manager, Rodrigo Pessoa, has named his squad for the Longines FEI Nations’ Cup World Final in Barcelona which starts on Thursday, October 3rd, and is the last chance for Ireland to secure a team qualification place for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The squad, sponsored by Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange, comprises the same five combinations which competed at last month’s European Championships in Rotterdam where Ireland missed out on Olympic qualification by one place. They are as follows:- Offaly’s Darragh Kenny (Balou du Reventon), Waterford’s Peter Moloney (Chianti’s Champion), Meath’s Cian O’Connor (PSG Final), Limerick’s Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) and Cork’s Shane Sweetnam (Alejandro).

In eventing, European individual bronze medallist, Cathal Daniels (22), finished best of the Irish in eighth in the CCI4*-L competition at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace international horse trials.

The 86-runner class concluded on Sunday with the show jumping phase in which Co Galway-born Daniels recorded one of just eight clear rounds on Jo Brehany’s home-bred Irish Sport Horse mare LEB Lias Jewel, a nine-year-old by Limmerick on which he had won the EI120 national championship the previous weekend.

The combination, who were just a second over the time on Saturday’s influential cross-country phase, jumped up from 38th after dressage to complete on a total of 25.4 penalties. England-based Co Down native Susie Berry had a fence down show jumping with Helen Caton’s ISH gelding, Ringwood LB (35.3), and so dropped a place from overnight 12th.

Irish Sport Horses filled the first four places. Britain’s in-form Piggy French won with the 10-year-old Inocent gelding Brookfield Inocent (25.4) and was third on the 14-year-old Captain Clover gelding Castletown Clover (28.6). Her rides were split by the 11-year-old Master Imp gelding Brookpark Vikenti (25.6) which was partnered by Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto. All three completed on their dressage scores while Australia’s Sammi Birch picked up 2.8 cross-country time penalties to finish fourth with the 11-year-old Vriend gelding, Direct Tullyoran Cruise (30.4).

Kildare-based Daniels was also best-placed of the Irish in the CCI4-S for eight and nine-year-old horses when finishing 20th on Kieran Connors and Michelle Nelson’s home-bred Samgemjee mare OLS Aragon (49.2 penalties).

Here, the honours went to Australia’s Chris Burton on the nine-year-old Holstein gelding Clever Louis on which he completed on his dressage score (29.7) on the combination’s first start in an event. Britain’s Tom McEwen finished second with the ISH gelding Dreamaway II (36.6), an eight-year-old Verdi gelding, while his compatriot, Gemma Tattersalls, was third on Chilli Knight (37.1).

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