Fantastic fourth for Irish eventers at European Championship

  • 14 August 2023, 00:46

Sarah Ennis and Grantstown Jackson jumping at the European Eventing Championship. Pic: Irish Eventing Times

The Irish Senior Eventing team rallied to finish a very creditable fourth place in the 2023 FEI Senior Eventing Championship at Haras du Pin, France.

The team of Sarah Ennis, Felicity Ward, Susie Berry and Joseph Murphy had a disappointing start but gained significant ground in the cross country phase. Ireland moved from 11th place to fourth after the gruelling test and stayed there through the show jumping phase.

Great Britain dominated throughout, finishing with the gold medal, with Germany second and France completing the podium in third place.

A spectacular cross country performance from Ennis, who was the very first rider out on course with the Irish Sport Horse Grantstown Jackson, showing her class to come home clear, just adding time penalties.

Owned by Susanna Frankie and Peter Cole, the 12-year-old traditionally Irish-bred gelding is by Clover Brigade (ISH) and out of the thoroughbred mare Winning Lass. He was bred by Waterford’s Caroline Widger.

The cross country course proved challenging, with over 15 combinations not completing. Unfortunately, Ward and the Irish Sport Horse Regal Bounty owned by James O’Callaghan, and Irish individual rider Ian Cassells were two of the riders eliminated on the cross country. Cassells was making his senior championship debut with the Irish Sport Horse Woodfarm Jack O D.

Dag Albert and his team of (from left) Jenny Kuenhle, Felicity Ward, Joseph Murphy, Ian Cassels, Susie Berry and Sarah Ennis

Also making her senior championship debut following great success in the youth ranks in both eventing and show jumping was Jennifer Kuehnle with Polly Blue Eyes, owned by Hans Kuehnle.

Unfortunately, her dream debut wasn’t to be. A decision was made to withdraw before cross country due to the challenging ground conditions.

The three remaining Irish combinations all passed the trot up this morning. A clear round for Berry and Clever Trick (ISH), owned by Sue Wilkinson and Ann Marling, got Ireland off to a flying start and Berry a 16th place finish.

Murphy and Calmaro, owned by Richard and Tanya Ames, Claire and Charlie Mayne and Annette O’Callaghan, also jumped clear to leave them in 12th individually.

An unlucky two fences down for Ennis dropped her from fifth overnight to a final placing of 14th.

Victory went to Great Britain in both the team and individual standings, with Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo taking gold ahead of compatriot Kitty King riding Vendredi Biats, with France’s Sandra Auffarth in third on Viamant Du Matz.

Speaking after the show jumping, Horse Sport Ireland’s Interim Eventing Team Manager Dag Albert said: “I’m very happy with that – it was a real test and my team showed great character to finish in fourth place.

“We’re on the verge of medals and I’m happy with where we are right now. Beforehand I probably would have been happy with fourth place in a European Championships but certainly after the dressage I’m delighted.

“That was obviously a tough cross country but we did very well to jump through the standings and lie in fourth going into the show jumping. And it was difficult out there today – there was a lot of roaring from the home crowd when a couple of our horses were warming up and it made them a little tense.

“You have to expect that I suppose, but it probably didn’t do us any favours. Regardless, it was an excellent performance and I’m delighted with my team.”


Clever Trick (ISH) (aka Kilcandra Bonnie Reward) – 2012 mare by Financial Reward (TB), out of Bonnie Dolly (ISH) by Bonnie Prince. Bred by Vincent Cousins. Owned by Sue Wilkinson and Ann Marling.

Woodendfarm Jack O D (ISH) – 2013 gelding by Jack Of Diamonds (SWB) out of Woodend Ard Hill (WNTR) by Ardcroney. Owned by Nuala Prendergast

Grantstown Jackson (ISH)[TIH] – 2011 gelding by Clover Brigade (ISH) out of Winning Lass (TB) by Right Win (TB). Breeder: Caroline Widger, Co Waterford. Owned by Peter Cole and Susanna Frankie

Regal Bounty (ISH) – 2011 gelding by Orestus (KWPN) out of Edge of Reason (ISH)[TIH] by Senang Hati (TB). Breeder: Miriam de Feu. Owned by James O’Callaghan