High Hopes for Pender in Belgium

Mikey Pender wins speed competition at Lanaken

Ireland's Mikey Pender won the second six-year-old qualifier at Lanaken in Belgium on Friday with Sinead Brennan's Irish Sport Horse gelding MHS High Hopes.

From a starting field of 257, there were 94 clear rounds in this 1.30m speed competition with Irish riders recording seven of these. Pender was clear with his two rides but was easily the fastest on MHS High Hopes, stopping the clock on 57.25 seconds.

Belgium's Cassandre Malherbe finished second with the mare Fee van het Cauterhof in 58.32 with French rider Thomas Rousseau placing third on another mare, Big Star des Forets, in 58.80. Two other Irish riders were placed in the top 20 - Jenny Rank finishing 15th on Sea Topblue (63.67), just ahead of Jessica Burke with Castlelawn Captain Junior (63.70).

MHS High Hopes, bred by the late Ita Brennan, is a Quidam Junior half-brother to Greg Broderick's former Olympic ride MHS Going Global which is now being campaigned by Greece's Athina Onassis.


Broderick's American pupil Adrienne Dixon finished sixth in the second seven-year-old qualifier with the ISH gelding Killossery Kaiden, six-year-old champion at the Belgian venue last season under Kilkenny's Ger O'Neill. The Dixon family purchased the Lux Z gelding at last November's Goresbridge Supreme Sale of Show Jumpers for €270,000.

These world breeding show jumping championships for young horses continue over the weekend, the consolation finals taking place on Saturday with the finals on Sunday. Including the five-year-olds, whose qualifiers are not against the clock, 13 Irish Sport Horses are through to Sunday’s deciders.

In other show jumping news, Cork native Shane Sweetnam finished sixth in Friday night's $216,000 US Open at the iconic venue of Central Park, New York.

Riding the Blue Buckle Group's nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Indra van de Oude Heihoef, Sweetnam was one of nine riders through to the second round where the grey lowered one pole in 43.31 seconds. The fastest double clear, which saw him win $71,280, was recorded by the United States' Kent Farrington on Creedance.

In eventing, a second day of dressage was held in Ballindenisk on Friday with the focus being on the short format CIC classes.

New Zealand veteran Blyth Tait heads the leaderboard at three-star level on Dassett Courage while Britain's Olivia Wilmot tops the rankings in the two-star class with Zebedee de Foja. In the one-star section, the top spot is held by Britain's Sam Ecroyd on Christoff.

Show jumping for the CIC classes gets underway at 9am on Saturday with the CCI runners starting their cross-country phase at noon. On Sunday, the action is reversed.

Also continuing over the weekend are Dressage Ireland’s national championships which have returned to the Clarke family’s Cavan Equestrian Centre for this year’s renewal.

Friday's opening session saw Co Kildare's Heike Holstein consolidate her position as the most successful rider in the history of the championships as she claimed the evening's Prix St Georges on the home-bred Sambuca having won the advanced championship earlier in the day with Chameur. Anne Marie Dunphy retained her title as Intermediare II champion with Urbanus.