RED MILLS Rider Capt Brian Cournane and The Irish Sport Horse mare Penelope Cruz scored a hugely impressive runner-up finish in the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds five-star Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, USA in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Cournane and the 12-year-old mare produced one of just two double clear rounds, with the only other perfect performance coming from two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward who took victory with his 2016 Olympic mount, HH Azur.
Six of the 40 starters made it through to the jump-off where Alex Granato (USA) and Carlchen W posted the fastest time but one fence down saw them take third place on the podium. Offaly’s Darragh Kenny finished fourth with Romeo 88 while Daniel Coyle slotted into sixth place aboard Legacy.
Runner-up Capt. Cournane (pictured) is now in his third year piloting Penelope Cruz (ISH), and stepped the mare up to five-star level just two weeks ago at WEF.
“She’s been jumping great in 1m50 league on Sundays,” he said. “Tonight, she really felt on form and jumped great. It was very clever course building,” continued Cournane of the track that proved to be a challenge for many. “The water jump came up early, and got the horses really open. The skinny at the ingate really got a lot of people. The combination was also very difficult.”
Meanwhile at the five-star Word Cup fixture in Gothenburg, Sweden, Tipperary’s Denis Lynch and GC Chopin’s Bushi claimed an impressive runner-up finish in Saturday’s Gothenburg Trophy, coming home just behind German winner Daniel Deusser with Calisto Blue. Past Irish winners of the Gothenburg Trophy include Eddie Macken and Jessica Kürten.
Penelope Cruz (ISH) – 2008 mare by Ustinov (KWPN) out of Tendelin (KWPN), by Peter Pan (OLD). Breeder: Liam McKee, Co. Down. Owner/Rider: Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL)
Final Results: $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*
1 HH AZUR: 2006 Belgian Sport Horse mare by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm & McLain Ward: 0/0/39.85
2 PENELOPE CRUZ: 2008 Irish Sport Horse mare by Ustinov x Peter Pan
CAPT. BRIAN COURNANE (IRL), Capt. Brian Cournane: 0/0/44.19
3 CARLCHEN W: 2008 Mecklenberg gelding by Chacco-Blue x Continue
ALEX GRANATO (USA), Page Tredennick: 0/4/38.87
4 ROMEO 88: 2009 Zangersheide stallion by Contact van de Heffinck x Orlando
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Darragh Kenny and Ann Thompson: 0/4/39.30
5 MAGNOLIA MYSTIC ROSE: 2009 BH mare by Zirocco Blue VDL
EDUARDO MENEZES (BRA), Rm Agronegocios Eireli: 0/4/40.10
6 LEGACY: 2010 Zangersheide mare by Chippendale Z x Bon Ami
DANIEL COYLE (IRL), Ariel Grange: 0/8/43.36