Equestrian: Irish riders start in style in USA

Irish show jumping riders have had the perfect start to week four of the Fall season at the Tryon International Equestrian Centre in the USA, winning the first two international classes.

On Thursday, Derry native Danny Coyle made his debut at the North Carolina venue and claimed the honours on his own Irish Sport Horse mare CHS Krooze in the 1.50 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stakes.

The combination was one of 21 to progress to the jump-off round and was first to go over the shortened track. Again, Coyle was clear, setting an unbeatable time of 33.448 on the Kroongraaf nine-year-old which was bred in Co Clare by Vincent O’Callaghan out of the Cruising mare, Cruise Oak.

“There were a good few clears for the jump-off, and, as I was first, I had to be as fast as possible,” said the Canada-based rider. “Luckily, that horse is incredibly fast! I think sometimes it’s better to go first in a jump-off, because you just stick to your plan and everybody else has to try and beat you.

“She’s been incredibly competitive all year anyway,” he continued. “In the beginning of the year, I didn’t know what was her class, or where she belonged, so to speak, but every time I ask her to jump a little bigger, and ask a little more, she keeps giving it to me. I’m going to keep going with her until the time that she says, ‘okay, maybe this is too much for me!’ But right now, I haven’t felt that yet.”

There is a large contingent of Irish riders competing at the three-star show and, on Friday, it was Galway’s David O’Brien who came out on top in the 1.45m speed class with Spy Coast Farm’s nine-year-old Amaretto d’Arco gelding Kir Royal SCF. The week’s featured $134,000 Grand Prix takes place on Saturday evening.

On this side of the Atlantic, the best result at senior level came at the three-star show in Vilamoura, Portugal where Co Kildare’s Mikey Pender won Friday’s 1.45m speed class on the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding Casanova van Overis Z which is owned by Studfarm Overis and the Bravo Hughes partnership.

At the underage show in Chevenez, Switzerland, Friday’s 1.25m pony Grand Prix was won by the Irish team of Orla Duffy (Atlanta), Conor McLaughlin (Wildwood Silver), Ella Quigley (Daisy de Chambord) and Alex Finney (Still Got Me). On a score of four faults, they finished ahead of The Netherlands (six) and Germany (eight).

“This was a fantastic result for us,” said Irish pony team manager, Gary Marshall. “I try to use this as a development show at the end of the year to give some new combinations some experience and all our team jumped great today. This was our last Nations’ Cup of the season and, in fact, the points gained at this show carry forward to next year’s league so it was great to finish on a high after what was an incredible year for us.”

An Irish team is competing in the final leg of this year’s FEI eventing Nations’ Cup series at Boekelo in The Netherlands where they are using the new Olympic format.

After the dressage phase, the Irish team of Dorset-based Tipperary native Padraig McCarthy (Leonidas II), Cork’s Brian Morrison (Global Orchid) and Galway’s Cathal Daniels (OLS King Aragon) was lying 10th of the 12 competing nations on a penalty score of 101.2. The European champions, Germany, topped the leaderboard on 78.1.

Going into Saturday’s cross-country phase, the best-placed Irish rider individually was Co Down-based Joseph Murphy who was on a penalty score of 29.9 with the Way Forward Syndicate’s 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding Cesar V. German team member, Sandra Auffarth was leading the individual rankings overnight on Let’s Dance 73 (24.9).

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