Irish showjumpers dominated Friday’s action at the Bolesworth International CSI4* as they showcased the country’s enviable strength in depth.
There were victories for Darragh Kenny, Dermott Lennon and David Simpson on a day when the sun shone to set up a thrilling weekend of action.
Kenny landed the four-star jump-off competition, sponsored by Cazenove Capital Management — and he revealed that his winning ride Go Easy De Muze had only been with him for a few weeks after they dominated a jump-off of more than 20 riders, prevailing by almost two seconds from Joe Whitaker and Lola V, with Brazil’s Felipe Amaral (Premiere Carthoe BZ) third and Victoria Gulliksen (Viego Les Hauts) fourth.
“It was a really good win. I am very happy with that,” Kenny said.
“I have only had the horse for about three weeks, and that was only our second class over 1.45 metres. He feels amazing.
“I think he is going to be a really cool horse for the future. He was the Dutch champion this year with its previous rider, and he also won the grand prix in Eindhoven.
“It was a testing jump-off. There were only four double-clears. There were big open distances and big verticals, but that suits my horse.
“I have really big hopes for him. He will jump the grand prix here on Sunday, and he will hopefully go to Rotterdam next week, then jump on the Irish Nations Cup team in Falsterbo, Sweden.
“Irish showjumping is on such a massive roll at the moment. It’s such a shame for us that we don’t have a team at the Olympics in Rio, because right now we probably have one of the strongest teams around.”
Lennon, meanwhile, saluted “a horse for all seasons” after he delivered a stylish performance to win Friday’s opening four-star class.
Lennon, a winner at Bolesworth last year, steered Loughview Lou Lou home in the speed competition, clocking a time of 61.28 seconds.
Their performance proved almost a second quicker than runner-up Lorenzo de Luca, on Halifax van het Kluizebo. British challengers filled third and fourth spots with William Funnell (Billy Angelo) and Jessica Mendoza (Wan Arcitect) respectively.
“Lou Lou is a very versatile mare and a horse for all seasons,” Lennon said. “She is very versatile, careful and loves to jump.
“We had a misunderstanding and a stop yesterday, but she wanted to win today, and after we got fence two out of the way, I was happy to move on in the hope we could be in with a chance.”
Friday’s two-star action saw a win for Sophie Fawcett and Quite Cadiz in the speed class, sponsored by AC Jackson, with Ireland’s Aisling Byrne (Wellview Classic Dream) second and Paul Barker (U2 II) third.
And the two-star accumulator, sponsored by Gaskells Waste Management, delivered another Irish victory, with Simpson steering Starfighter home, followed by Mark Armstrong’s Balougio III in second and Robert Murphy on Vogue in third.