Offaly rider Kevin Mealiff won the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix on Saturday at the Vermont Summer Festival in the USA.
Ten horse-rider combinations, including Mealiff’s fellow Irishman, Kevin McCarthy, with two of his horses, made it through to the jump-off round, meaning Ireland had three chances of winning the class.
Mealiff and the 11-year-old Belgian mare Idylle van de Eikhoeve, a horse on which he only took over the ride a week ago, were the last to return for the jump-off, and they went clear in 40.11 seconds to edge out New Zealand’s Kirk Webby (40.40 seconds) for the win, with Matthew Metell of the USA third with Donchalant.
“With 10 in the jump-off, I knew it was going to be very fast,” said Mealiff. “I was lucky enough to go last. I’d seen everyone go, and I knew Kirk was very fast, so I knew I had to do something between the last two jumps. I left a stride out there and just picked him off at the end, so it was great.”
The North Salem, New York-based Irishman was full of praise for his mare, stating:
“It’s a super mare. She’s very careful and seems very consistent, so she has a big future ahead of her. She likes to take a hold and kind of run at the jump, so then you just have to sit against her. She’s so careful and just has a lot of good quality.”
Kevin McCarthy with Catch A Star HSS had four faults in the jump-off and clocked 39.90 seconds, giving them a seventh place finish. McCarthy and his other horse Easton, a winner at Vermont earlier this week, also had a pole down for four faults, and stopped the timers at 42.03 seconds, taking eighth place in the class.
- Kevin Mealiff Ireland Idylle van de Eikhoeve 0/0/40.11 secs.
- Kirk Webby New Zealand Brando du Rouet 0/0/40.40 secs.
- Matthew Metell USA Donchalant 0/0/40.78 secs.
7. Kevin McCarthy Ireland Catch A Star HSS 0/4/39.90 secs.
8. Kevin McCarthy Ireland Easton 0/4/42.03 secs.