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In the past seven days Ireland’s equestrian stars have competed behind closed doors at competitions in Florida and Dortmund, achieving much success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Darragh Kenny scored a victory in the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3* on Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida.
Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt built a track for 45 starters with 12 advancing to the tie-breaking jump-off. Returning near the end of the jump-off round, Kenny and Scarlett du Sart Z stopped the clock at 33.54 seconds to claim the lead and relegate Israel’s Sydney Shulman down to the runner-up position. Shulman and J-Boston S.E. posted a time of 33.96 seconds.
“I’ve been very lucky – I had a good winter and all the horses went very well,” said Kenny of his season at WEF. “I had a great feeling coming into this winter because I have an incredible group of horses, and I’m very lucky that I have those horses.”
Kenny got the ride on Scarlett du Sart Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide mare, during the horse’s seven-year-old year. He has high hopes for the mare’s future, saying, “This is a mare that Teddy Vlock and his owner bought for me, and we’ve been slowly producing her. She’s really starting to turn a corner, and I think she’s an incredibly talented horse that will end up jumping at the highest level.”
At the Palm Beach Masters, which are also taking place in Florida, Co Down’s Conor Swail and GK Coco Chanel finished as runners-up in Saturday’s $137,000 CSI5* Palm Beach Masters Classic.
Last to go in a 12-horse jump-off, Swail finished just behind British winner Emily Moffitt with Tipsy du Terral. Billy Twomey (Kimba Flamenco) and Darragh Kenny (Billy Dorito) also made it into the jump-off and finished in ninth and tenth places respectively.
Bertram Allen clinched the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI3* riding Lafayette van Overis on Wednesday at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida.
Allen continued a streak of 1.45m victories at WEF with another win over tracks set by Michel Vaillancourt. Seventy horses contested the two-phase course, but Allen and his quick gelding could not be caught. They stopped the clock at 32.68 seconds, which proved to be less than a half a second faster than runner-up Natalie Dean (USA) riding Ceitasi (32.68 seconds), with Derry rider Jordan Coyle rounding out the top-three in a time of 32.70 seconds aboard Picador.
“He was very relaxed, and straight away won this easily,” said Allen of his Ballywalter Stables-owned mount. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to go full speed, but because it was a two phase, I could see how he was feeling and he felt very good.
“He is so naturally fast,” continued Allen. “There were people doing more galloping or less strides, but I did not want to do that with him today. I thought I would do as good a round as I could, and see where that left us. Because he’s so fast, he was able to get out on top.”
Meanwhile Offaly’s Darragh Kenny claimed the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m riding Cicomein VDL in the International Arena.
Derry’s Jordan Coyle and Eristov raced to victory in the five-star $89,500 Palm Beach Masters qualifier, while Cork’s Billy Twomey finished third with Lady Lou just ahead of Wexford’s Bertram Allen and Gun Powder in fourth.
There was also an Irish win for Stephen Moore and Team de Coquerie in the $36,600 CSI2* Bruins Tour Challenge, the final event of the inaugural Sunset Challenge at the 2020 Palm Beach Masters Series.
Moore and the 13-year-old gelding crossed the timers of Alan Wade’s 1m45 shortened track in 37.24 seconds, beating Eve Jobs (USA) and Valentino Tuiliere on 38.37 seconds and Beat Mändli (SUI) and Dibatsja on 38.96 seconds.
Tipperary’s Denis Lynch and GC Chopin’s Bushi took victory in last Friday’s three-star 1m50 jump-off at Dortmund Show while Co Clare’s Eoin McMahon was also in the prizes, taking third place with Chacon 2.
Irish Dressage rider Heike Holstein and the Irish-bred mare Sambuca took sixth place in the Grand Prix in Dortmund. Holstein scored 70.571% with victory going to Germany’s Ingrid Klimke with Franziskus on a score of 75.217%.