Carlow’s Jason Foley was crowned European U18 (Junior) Showjumping Champion at the Longines FEI European Youth Championships in France on Sunday – bridging a gap of 42 years since Ireland last won European Under 18 Gold.
It brought Ireland’s medal haul at last week’s European Championships to four, with Rhys Williams taking individual Gold in the Under 14 Championship on Saturday, along with team silver for the Irish U14 team and a Bronze for the Irish U18 team.
Riding the Irish Sport Horse Castlefield Vegas, Jason Foley jumped his fourth clear round of the week in the first round of the final to remain in Gold medal position heading into the medal decider. When he entered the arena as last to jump, he knew he could afford one fence down to take the Gold. He picked up four faults midway through his round but he kept his composure to finish with just a single fence down and claim the individual gold medal.
Britain’s Oliver Fletcher took silver ahead of Belgium’s Simon Morssinkhof who claimed the bronze.
The result crowned a fantastic week for Irish Youth team manager James Kernan, who himself won the U18 (Junior) European Gold medal 44 years-ago in 1974 – a result that before Foley’s win was only repeated once, by Brian McMahon in 1976.
Meanwhile Ireland’s Jordan Coyle riding Mojo TSP blazed to victory in the $7,500 Speed Derby at the Ottawa National Horse Show at Wesley Clover Parks in Ontario, Canada.
When Coyle entered the arena midway through the 17-horse starting field, he was chasing the leading time of 83.30 seconds set by Kelly Soleau-Millar of Florida and Centre Ice, her 16-year-old grey Canadian-bred gelding.
Coyle and Mojo TSP, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding, bravely tackled the speed course which featured natural obstacles such as a steep bank and intimidating devil’s dyke. The pair left all the rails in place and raced through the timers in 80.18 seconds to move to the top of the leaderboard.
Canadian Kelley Robinson riding Lise came closest to catching Coyle’s time, eventually settling for second place in 82.97 seconds, with Soleau-Millar’s time with Centre Ice holding up for third place.
“I love going fast and speed derbies, especially when it’s four seconds added for each rail, give you a real chance to go fast,” said Coyle, 25, of the format that sees four seconds added to the rider’s time for each rail down.
“He’s very brave and nothing really fazes him,” said Coyle, who began riding Mojo TSP at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, earlier this year. “He never did any schooling on the natural obstacles either, so I’m really happy with him today.”
Coyle, who is making his Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments debut, will compete at the CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Show this week.