Ireland’s Lanaken World Championship heroes honoured at welcome home reception in Kilkenny

  • 27 September 2019, 12:44

Ireland’s three medal winners from last weekend’s FEI World Championships for Young Horses at Lanaken in Belgium – Mikey Pender, Jason Foley and Seamus Hughes-Kennedy, were honoured last night (Thursday) at a reception held in O’Sullivan’s Tap Room Brewery Kilkenny, with family, friends, winning owners and breeders in attendance, along with representatives from Horse Sport Ireland and local politicians.

Pictured at a reception held in Kilkenny to honour Ireland’s three medal winners from the 2019 World Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium. (l-r) Mayor of Kilkenny Martin Brett, Mikey Pender (silver medal winner in 5&6 year-old finals), Jason Foley (gold medal winner in 5-year-old final), Seamus Hughes-Kennedy (gold medal winner in 7-year-old final) and John McGuinness TD for Carlow-Kilkenny

The reception came following  a stunning performance which saw Irish horses and riders claim four of the nine World Championship medals on offer at the Championships. All three Irish winning riders are under 20 years of age and were up against some of the world’s most experienced Show Jumping athletes.

(l-r) Eamonn Sheahan, breeder of Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH), Seamus Hughes-Kennedy, Clare Hughes and Melvin Kennedy pictured at a reception held in Kilkenny to honour Ireland’s three medal winners from the 2019 World Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium

Kilkenny’s Seamus Hughes-Kennedy (17) claimed a magnificent victory with Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH) in the 7-year-old World Championship Final in Lanaken. Bred by Eamonn Sheahan, Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH) is owned by the riders’ mum Clare Hughes.

Carlow’s Jason Foley and The Irish Sport Horse Rockwell RC, bred by Ronan Byrne and owned by Kevin Crumley, also struck Gold in the final for 5-year-old horses, while Kildare’s Mikey Pender and Chacco Bay collected the Silver. Mikey Pender also stood on the podium in the 6-year-old final following another runner-up finish with MHS Cardenta (ISH) bred by Thomas Brennan and owned by Marion Hughes and Miguel Bravo.

(l-r) Ronan Murphy (HSI CEO), Mikey Pender, Seamus Hughes-Kennedy, Jason Foley and John Ledingham (Irish Chef d’Equipe for Lanaken World Championships) pictured at a reception held in Kilkenny to honour Ireland’s three medal winners from the 2019 World Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium


Rockwell RC (ISH) F by Kannan (KWPN) out of Urban Sea (ISH) by Guidam (SF) bred by Ronan Byrne owned by Kevin Crumley ridden by Jason Foley.
Chacco Bay (OLDBG) by Chaccato out of Heops. Owner: Hiltrup Sporthorses GmbH. Breeder: Alfons Brueggehagen Ridden by Michael Pender
MHS Cardenta (ISH) F by Cardento (HOLST) out of Willow Point (ISH) by Diamond Serpent (ISH) bred by Thomas Brennan owned by Bravo Hughes Ltd ridden by Michael James Pender.
Be Aware (ISH) by Pacino (BWP) out of Warrenstown Well Aware (ISH) by Cruising (ISH) bred & owned by Ronan Tynan and ridden by Vincent Byrne
Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH) by Z Wellie 72 (KWPN) out of Cuffesgrange Cavalidam (ISH) by Luidam (KWPN) bred by Eamonn Sheahan, Owned by Clare Hughes, Ridden by Seamus Hughes Kennedy.


Rider Biographies

Rider name Age Home County Previous medals Others
Michael (Mikey) Pender 19 Kildare 2018 Lanaken Bronze.

2016 Lanaken Silver and Bronze.

2015 EU Champs (U16) Team Silver.

2014 EU Champs (U16) Team Silver.

Youngest winner of the Al Shiraa’a Hickstead Derby (2019, Hearton Du Bois Halleux).

Competed at Lanaken 4 years in-a-row (‘16-‘19).

Competed at EU Champs 7 years in-a-row (‘13-‘19).

Jason Foley 18 Carlow 2018 EU Champs (U18) Team Bronze, Indiv. Gold.


Completed the week’s competition having dislocated his shoulder three weeks previous in a fall. Also the first Gold winner U18 in 42 years.
Seamus Hughes-Kennedy 17 Kilkenny 2019 EU Champs (U18) Team Bronze.


2017 winner of the FEI Pony Trophy in Belgium.

2018 winning Pony Team member at the FEI Youth Nations Cup.


Additional info

FEI/World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses (WBFSH) World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses


Seamus Hughes-Kennedy – “Last year Cavadaro finished fourth in the 6-Year-Old Final with Ger O’Neill in the saddle. They were clear and in the lead until the last few competitors but just missed out on a medal, so I’m very pleased we’ve earned gold.”

“We’re going for European Junior Gold next year!” said the rider’s mother, Clare Hughes, who also owns the winning horse.

Jason Foley – “I dislocated my shoulder three weeks ago in a fall. I didn’t actually think that I could make it here, so I hope the hospital doesn’t see this, but I thought, let’s try it and I was lucky that it went OK!”

Irish Chef D’Equipe Comdt. John Ledingham. “The Championships attract the top-ranking riders in the world with their best selected representatives of all the studbooks. The medal success is a true reflection of the Irish Sport Horse breeders and producers in Ireland and none of this can happen without the support and commitment of the breeding department in Horse Sport Ireland.

”Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy.“This has been a memorable World Breeding Championships for our horses and riders. To take home two gold and two silver medals against the best young horses in the world is another huge boost for the Irish Sport Horse industry. I want to congratulate all our riders, owners and of course the breeders of all our horses and the entire team who represented Ireland brilliantly at these Championships this week.”

  1. Background on the Championships:

            The event is held at the equestrian centre Domain Zangersheide, as the closing event of the breeding season, demonstrating in an unparalleled manner the invaluable relationship between sport, breeding and trade to the world. The competition consists of classis for 5, 6 and 7-year-old horses, jumping in world-class arenas with all-weather footing. Winning a place on the podium at this event awards World Title status to the horses, the breeders and the riders, and breeders and riders are generously rewarded. The competition also has exclusive competitions for young stallions and established sires, as well as an auction of foals with top performance breeding. In 2019, the total prize fund for the Championships was the highest in history, with a doubled prize fund for the breeders.

  1. Key statistics:

            Lanaken 2019:

  • Number of horses – 784.
  • Number of riders – 508.
  • Number of nations – 45.
  • Number of studbooks – 36.

Team Ireland Equestrian performance 2017-18:

2018 · Irish Eventing team SILVER at FEI World Equestrian Games. Padraig McCarthy individual SILVER.

· Irish Pony Eventing team SILVER at European Championships. Sophie Foyle individual SILVER.

· Max Wachman individual SILVER at Pony Show Jumping European Championships.

· Richard Howley GOLD, Darragh Ryan SILVER, Michael Pender five-year-old BRONZE in FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses.

· Irish Children on Horses Show Jumping team SILVER at European Championships.

· Rhys Williams individual Show Jumping Children on Horses GOLD at European Championships.

· Irish Junior Show Jumping team BRONZE at European Championships.

· Jason Foley individual Show Jumping Juniors GOLD at European Championships.

2017 · Irish Show Jumping team GOLD at European Show Jumping Championships. Cian O’Connor BRONZE individual.

· Irish Pony Show Jumping team GOLD at European Championships.

· Irish Pony Eventing team BRONZE at European Championships.

· Harry Allen individual GOLD and Kate Derwin individual SILVER Pony Show Jumping at European Championships.

· Irish Show Jumping team GOLD at Drammen CSIO3* (Drammen) and CSIO4* (Wellington and Ocala).

· Irish Show Jumpers won 10 out of 12 international classes at Dublin Horse Show 2017.

· Ger O’Neill and Columbcille Gypsy (ISH) GOLD in six-year-old FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses.


Team Ireland Equestrian Performance 2019:

Irish riders claimed four of the nine medal places available – 34 riders (7%) with 54 horses (7%) competed under the Irish flag, and claimed a massive 44% of the medals.

Irish Sport Horses claimed three of the nine medal places available – 29 Irish Sport Horses (4%) competed under the Irish flag against 755 horses from 35 other studbooks, and incredibly claimed 33% of the medals.

There are 76 Member Studbooks of the WBFSH, 36 of which competed at Lanaken in 2019, including the Irish Sport Horse Studbook.


Irish Equestrian athletes have claimed ten team and individual medals in 2019, including Team and Individual Gold at the Pony Show Jumping European Championships, and Individual Bronze at the Senior Eventing Championships – full listing below. Horse Sport Ireland are looking forward to 2020, where Team Ireland Equestrian has two teams qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Eventing and Dressage), and is aiming to qualify a Show Jumping team next week at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.

Team Ireland Equestrian Medal Tally 2019:

Show Jumping:

World Breeding Jumping Champs: Individual Gold and Silver (5-year-olds), Individual Silver (6-year-olds) and Individual Gold (7-year-olds)

Pony Europeans: Individual and Team Gold

Junior Europeans: Individual Gold and Team Bronze


Pony Europeans: Team Bronze

Senior Europeans: Individual Bronze (Cathal Daniels).


Background on Equestrian sport in Ireland

The Irish Sport Horse industry contributes €816m to the Irish economy annually. In terms of active participation in the industry, 47,000 people are involved. The Sport Horse population of Ireland is 136,000, and the industry is truly nationwide, with participants in every county – Co. Galway and Co. Cork are the two biggest contributors to the Sport Horse industry in Ireland. In terms of Equestrian sport participation, there are 145,770 Affiliates Equestrian entries, and 56,038 Affiliates Equestrian participants in Ireland.

The largest sector of the Sport Horse industry by participation is Breeding, with 14,562 participants, and is the greatest contributor to the economy, contributing €271m annually. To have an event such as the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses is an invaluable tool to promote the status of Sport Horse breeders in Ireland to the rest of the world – an internationally recognisable title goes to those who achieve a place on the podium, as well as generous prize money and well deserved credit.

Funding available to Horse Sport Ireland:

  • Horse Sport Ireland received €4.31m in government funding in 2008, and in 2016 received just €3.9m. This is a decrease of 9%, despise a medal tally increase of 14%.
  • The Sport Horse industry’s contribution to the Irish economy is on a par with that of the Horse Racing industry’s contribution (€914m from Horse Racing, €816m from Sport Horses), whereas the funding available is drastically different (€64m to Horse Racing Ireland, €3.9m to Horse Sport Ireland).
  • The difference in contribution between the Sport Horse and Horse Racing sector is 11%, whereas the difference in funding is a massive 94%.
  • Ireland’s equestrian athletes and Sport Horses continue to improve their performance despite major backstops in terms of available funding, through determination and dedication. There is significant untapped potential in the sector.
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