Offaly’s Kevin Mealiff won the $10,000 Manchester Designer Outlets Welcome Stake on Thursday, during the opening week of the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont.
Riding Nuca 2, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Mealiff was best in a field of 14 jump-off contenders and posted a time of 37.52 seconds in only the Irishman’s third show aboard Nuca 2.
The pair earned their first victory together over New Zealand Olympian Kirk Webby, who was riding Brando du Rouet, with Webby posting a jump-off time of 38.75 seconds.
“I thought I was fast enough on my first horse, but I saw Kirk go and he was quicker,” said Mealiff, who also finished third riding Viper Vrombautshoeve Z in 38.95 seconds.
“I did six [strides with Nuca 2] to the double instead of seven, which everyone else did, and then I got the inside turn after. That made all the difference.”
Speaking of his winning mare, Mealiff, who is based in North Salem, New York, said:
“She seems to be so genuine. I was very tight and close to the second-to-last oxer, and she didn’t hesitate, bounced off the ground with ears pricked, and galloped away to the next jump. She is finding a bit more scope every day, and I’m really happy with her.”
Ireland’s Kevin McCarthy, who also made it through to the jump-off, had four faults in his second round of jumping, and finished in a time of 36.84 seconds which was good enough for seventh place.
The Vermont Summer Festival runs for six weeks, until August 11th.