Ireland’s showjumper’s put on a competitive show at Wellington, Florida, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Ireland was represented in three of the four Nations Cup categories and each completed their day on the podium.
Before the excitement of the Young Rider and Junior Nation’s Cups, all eyes were on Friday’s Senior Nations Cup team of Darragh Kenny, Shane Sweetnam, Cian O’Connor and Kevin Babington. The team of both Irish and American based riders finished in third position behind the US and Canada.
The top young talent from 12 nations came together to compete in Hollow Creek Farm Junior and Young Rider Nations Cup. This unique event offers riders the opportunity to gain invaluable team experience before reaching senior international competitions. The 11 nations that fielded teams alongside Ireland were Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA, and Venezuela.
This Nations Cup event coincides with the Connolly’s RED MILLS/ HSI Rider Placement Programme. The programme was developed by Michael Blake. Talented Young Riders are selected and given the opportunity to train and compete with top International riders based in Wellington during WEF. Michael remarks “This programme offers riders invaluable experience in the US. This will allow our young riders to observe the American method of horse production and gives them a fantastic opportunity to make new contacts in the industry”.
The Junior Team finished in Silver Medal position on a score of 13 faults behind USA who finished on one time fault. The riders from all corners of Ireland were Conor McMahon based with Andrew Bourns of Bourns Sport Horses rode Vaillant S, owned by Amanda Dalm. Philip Carey was on board Domino Van Hermitage trained by Darragh Kenny, owner of Oakland Ventures. Matt Garrigan competed on his own horse Quentucky Jolly and trained with Denis Coakley while in Wellington. Cormac Hanley rode Estafania and has been training with Kevin Babington while in Wellington.
Ireland also took the Bronze Medal in the Young Rider Nations’ Cup coming home on a score of 28 faults. This placed them third behind an on form USA Team that finished on 4 faults, followed by Brazil on with a total score of 24. The team comprised of Junior rider Cormac Hanley with Navy Blue Tarroy owned and trained by Kevin Babbington. Tom Foley on board Shane Sweetnam’s Petrushka III. Jenny Rankin was on board Eddi Maserati ownded and trained by Andrew Bourns of Bourns Sport Horses, and Oliver McCarthy is in training with McLain Ward and was on board Crossfire 10.
This is Connolly’s RED MILLS second year to support the Young Rider Placement Programme. Gareth Connolly of Connolly’s RED MILLS commented on the Team’s performance ‘We would like to congratulate all the riders, owners and trainers that have been involved the RED MILLS/HSI Rider Placement Programme, and especially Michael Blake, who has led the programme not only in Florida but also in the early stages of sponsorship, rider selection and securing trainers for the participants along with this year securing a sponsor that funded the transport of horses from Ireland to Florida for the event’.
This is an exciting time for Connolly’s RED MILLS as the US is added to the list of countries which they export to. Jenny Rankin continued Ireland’s strong show of form in the Young Rider Grand Prix claiming second place. Rankin, who is based with Bourns Sport Horses in Ballinasloe jumped a competitive double clear on board Eddie Maserati, just one second behind US’s Spencer Smith. Eddie Maserati is fed on Connolly’s RED MILLS both in Ireland and now also in the US.