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Irish Sport Horses celebrate continuing success

Michael Duffy riding Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars

Photography: Jenni Autry, Stefano Grasso, Kit Houghton, Moisés Basallote

The Irish Sport Horse continue to celebrate successes in both the eventing and showjumping disciplines. This season’s ongoing eventing success maintains the Irish Sport Horse in pole position of the WBFSH studbook rankings. The CCI5*L in Luhmuhlen saw five Irish-bred horses finishing in the top 20, including Paulank Brockagh (ISH) and Sam Griffiths (AUS) who finished best of the Irish-breds in seventh place.

Paulank Brockagh was bred by Paula Cullen (Co. Wicklow), by Touchdown (ISH) out of Calendar Girl (ISH). Ireland’s Sam Watson (IRL) riding the Vahe Bogossian-owned Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) finished in 12th after dressage on a score of 32.50, jumping clear cross country adding just 9.6 time penalties. They dropped a pole in the showjumping phase to finish on a score of 46.10 in 12th place.
Ger O'Neill riding Castlefield Vegas (pictured in Vejer de la Frontera), were members of Team Ireland winning the Nations’ Cup in Drammen, Norway
Watson was closely followed by another Irish pairing; Tony Kennedy (IRL) riding the Con Kennedy-owned Wisteria Lane (ISH). Kennedy was 22nd after dressage with a score of 37.10, a clear cross country with just six time penalties saw them climb to ninth place. They had one fence down in the showjumping phase to finish on a score of 47.90 in 13th place.
Galway-based rider, Cathal Daniels was an impressive winner in the CCI-U25-4*L at Bramham International Horse Trials (June 6-9, 2019) riding Rioghan Rua (ISH). The pairing sat in eighth place after dressage; followed by an effortless clear cross country, and one of the only two clears in the showjumping phase. Seven days previously Daniels  won the CCI-U25-3*L in Tattersalls on LEB Lias Jewel, another Irish Sport horse mare by Limmerick (Holst) out of Leb Liath (ISH). Daniels described his back-to-back wins as “something dreams are made of” and continues to build on his reputation as one of the world’s best young eventing riders.
Rioghan Rua was bred and is owned by Margaret Kinsella (Co. Galway) and is by Jack of Diamonds (SWE) out of Highland Destiny (ISH). Margaret Kinsella watched on from the livestream, and was originally planning to head to Aachen later in the year. When asked her expectations of Irish Sport Horse mare’s performance, Kinsella said: “Dressage is her difficult phase, if she could get through that I knew she’d have a fighting chance. The cross country is tough – I think Bramham is the hardest long-form four-star in the world. Chatsworth was her only run since WEG so she could have been a little rusty, but her and Cathal are an excellent partnership”
Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua

Kinsella is hopeful Rioghan Rua will be selected for the European Championships in Luhmühlen later this year and probably won’t send her to Aachen. She feels the mare has already proven herself in qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  The mare has previously helped Kinsella top the Irish leading owners list in 2016, and has been on championship teams from the age of six. She is no stranger to success and helped team Ireland secure their silver medal position at the 2018 Tryon World Equestrian Games with an individual finish of 26th.

Drammen Nations’ Cup
A young Irish showjumping team comprised of Ger O’Neill, Jenny Rankin, Aidan Killeen and Susan Fitzpatrick won the Nations Cup at Drammen, Norway, in May. O’Neill was riding Castlefield Vegas by Cassino (ZVCH) out of Clarkes Quiet Optimistic (ISH), bred by John Clarke (Co. Cavan). The Martin Egan-owned Irish Sport Horse gelding showed promise from early on; winning the seven-year-old final of the Irish Sport Horse studbook series in 2017. He was later ridden by Jason Foley, taking the junior (under 18) European showjumping champion title in 2018. At only nine years old, Castlefield Vegas is certainly one to watch on the international circuit. His breeder, John Clarke, monitors the geldings progress online and is delighted with his success: “There is no horse in the world being managed as well as Castlefield Vegas, Martin and Ger are doing a fantastic job with him.”
Clarke outlines that the dam line is extremely strong and won two gold medals at last year’s Europeans. Some of the dam’s progeny are competing on the continent and she had a filly last year which he plans to use to maintain the breeding line. The mare currently has a foal at foot which Clarke plans to show at the Cavan foal sale.

Longines GCT in Portugal

Over in Portugal at the Cascais leg of the Longines Global Championships tour, Michael Duffy won the 1m55/1m60 speed class riding the Irish bred Mullaghbrin Touch the Stars. The gelding was bred by Dr Noel Cawley (Co. Kildare) and is by Touchdown (ISH) out of Irco Rain (ISH). The Irish pairing finished almost one-and-a-half seconds ahead of German runner-up Marco Kutscher riding Casallvano, while Wexford’s Bertram Allen finished fourth with Molly Malone V.
Paulank Brocklagh ridden by Sam Warsoncompeteas T

Later in the week Duffy and Mullaghbrin Touch the Stars claimed third place in the €300,000 Portuguese Grand Prix, closely followed by Darragh Kenny in fourth.