Irish horses and riders continue to shine in Lanaken

  • 22 September 2023, 20:00

LVS Goldrush H and Ethen Ahearne jumping clear in Lanaken. Pic: Sportfot

It was a day of top sport at the FEI/WBFSH World Showjumping Championships for Young Horses in the Zangersheide Stud in Lanaken, Belgium which saw some fantastic rounds from the Horse Sport Ireland Young Horse Squad, as well as Irish athletes riding foreign-bred horses on Wildcard Selections.

The 21 horses on the Studbooks Team were bolstered by a further 43 combinations of wildcards and Irish-bred horses representing other countries, with three for Britain two for the Netherlands and one for Portugal.

Twelve combinations will look to continue Ireland’s rich history in the Five-Year-Old division including Ger O’Neill aiming to defend the title he won in 2022, this time with Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH).

Jason Foley, Niamh McEvoy, Leah Stack and Mikey Pender all ride into Sunday’s Grand Final with two horses each.

Fole takes SVS Symphony (ISH) and Castlefield Dancer (OS), Stack goes with Luisa (ISH) and Carlsberg Z (Zang), McEvoy takes Stakkato Girl (AES), and the Preliminary Approved stallion in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH), and Pender goes with HHS Ocala (ISH) and Madgeslane Luidam (ISH), also a Preliminary Approved stallion in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook.

Vincent Byrne with Gone Girl VB (ISH), Emma O’Dwyer with BP Millionaire (HOLST) and Brendan Murphy goes with OKE Dixieland Rock (ISH), the leading horse in the Five-Year-Old Horse Sport Ireland Studbook Series.

In the Six-Year-Old division a total of six Irish combinations qualified for Sunday’s grand final with McEvoy once again going double-handed into the final with BP Tiny Dancer (ISH), and the 2022 Five-Year-Old World Champion BP Goodfellas (ISH).

Joining her in the final, also double-handed, is Mikey Pender with HHS Ice Flo (ISH) and GCS Rosie (ISH).

Stack and Laurina (ISH), and Darragh Ryan with the stallion As You Want Z (ISH) round out the Irish contingent aiming to replicate the success of 2022 World Champions, Ethen Ahearne and ABC Saving Grace (ISH).

Gone Girl V, Vincent Byrne jumping clear in Lanaken. Pic: Sportfot

The Seven-Year-Old final will also be a hotly contested affair with seven Irish pairings aiming to bring home the gold medal, chief among those will be the reigning FEI European Young Rider Champion, Seamus Hughes Kennedy and Curra Ferro (ISH).

A previous winner of this title in 2019 when riding Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH), the Kilkenny man will be aiming to build on a fantastic year thus far that has seen him win CSI2* Grand Prix classes in Balmoral, Millstreet, and a close second place in the CSI2* Grand Prix in Mullingar.

The senior Irish Nations Cup team members Jessica Burke, Pender, and Harry Allen will also be lining out in the final with Gold Star du Bary (Zang), HHS Cyprus (ISH) and Kumina Della Caccia (MIPAAF) respectfully.

Ethen Ahearne with LVS Goldrush H (ISH), Foley with Mister Qerly Z (Zang), Portugal’s Molly Hughes Bravo with HHS Orchidee (ISH) and Britain’s Georgia Tame with DHS Lucky Junior (ISH) round out the Irish hopes.

Chef D’Equipe Taylor Vard said: “The pressure was on all of our riders today with all the 5 year olds having to jump double clear.

“The 6- and 7- year old classes were one round speed. Although we were successful in the numbers we have, we had a few unlucky poles which excluded some of our combinations. I am satisfied with today’s results, but I always think there’s potential for more.

”We’re looking forward to the finals on Sunday. With a bit of luck, we’ll crown a world champion!”

Competition kicks off again tomorrow morning for the consolation final before the Grand Finals on Sunday.

The 2023 Horse Sport Ireland Young Horse Squads are kindly supported by Bluegrass Horse Feed and Janni Bars.

Participation at the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium is thanks to the support of the Department of Food, Agriculture and the Marine.


All breeding details and startlists can be found HERE: