Ireland's Shane Breen won his first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix late on Saturday night in Monaco.
Riding the 10-year-old chestnut stallion Ipswich van de Wolfsakker, which he owns in partnership with Belgian international Jos Lansink, Breen and fellow Tipperary native Denis Lynch were among just six riders who jumped clear in the opening round in Monte Carlo.
Lynch briefly held the lead in the jump-off as, on board RMF Bella Baloubet, he recorded the first clear in 40.43. Italy's Alberto Zorzi was second last to go with Fair Light van T Heike and looked to have done enough to take the win when coming home clear in 35.72.
However, Hickstead-based Breen gauged the course to perfection when last to go with Ipswich and a perfect stride to the last fence saw them cross the line in 35.56 to take the first prize of just under €100,000. Zorzi collected €60,000 for his runner-up finish while Denis Lynch took home €45,000 for third.
“I’m just ecstatic. It’s the first time I have won a Global Tour Grand Prix and I’m just over the moon,” said Breen.
“I thought Ipswich was just incredible. Every jump, he was just giving more and more and I just thought, he is just enjoying it, he’s loving it. I was a bit steady from fence one-two and then I thought, don’t panic, we will make it up some way. He is naturally quick, so when I jumped the second last I saw a stride to the last and I said, here goes.”
Breen was also delighted to have secured his place in the lucrative Global Champions Tour playoff at the end of the season in Prague, which offers well over a €1 million in prizemoney. “It’s fantastic, 18 riders go to it and I’m just so delighted – it’s a huge pot of money there and I’m looking forward to it.”
Earlier in the day at the five-star show, Co Louth-born Mark McAuley, riding Eva Lundin’s Miebello, and Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands on Cas, represented Montreal Diamonds when finishing third in the ninth leg of the Global Champions League. Their score over two rounds of four faults in 131.53 was just slightly slower than that of the London Knights (130.23), who were also on four faults while the winners on a zero score were the Rome Gladiators.
Having finished second on Balou du Reventon in Friday night’s 1.50m jump-off class in Knokke, Belgium, Co Offaly’s Darragh Kenny won Saturday morning’s 1.40m class with Oakmont Stables’ Lolly Pop Van’T Akkerhof.
At Spruce Meadows in Canada on Saturday, Co Derry native Daniel Coyle partnered Lothlorien's Dutch Warmblood mare Farona (76.700) into third place in the 1.50m speed class. The USA's Richard Spooner posted the fastest clear with Arthos R (73.910) with Brazil's Rodrigo Lambre finishing second on Chapilot (74.290).
There is international eventing action in Co Cork this weekend and Sunday’s sees competitors in all five classes tackle the cross-country phase of the Fernhill Sport Horses International at Kilguilkey House outside Mallow.
There were 27 starters in the featured Global Horses CIC3* competition where, after the dressage and show jumping phases, Co Meath's Sally Ennis was the overnight leader with Horseware Stellor Rebound (28.2 penalties) ahead of Cathal Daniels on Sammy Davis Junior (28.6) and Sophie Richards with SRS Adventure (28.9). The best-placed overseas rider in fourth is Italy's Giovanni Ugolotti on Cosmos Baby (29.1).