Irish riders lead the way with a clean sweep in Five-Year-Old Grand Finals

  • 24 September 2023, 12:10

The first of the three Grand Finals at the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championships in Lanaken saw an incredible performance from the Irish riders with six of the twelve Irish starters qualify for an eleven horse jump off resulting in an Irish whitewash with the Team Ireland filling all three podium placings and a clean sweep for the Irish Sport Horse Studbook for the second time in the event’s history.

World Breeding Championships 2023 5 year old final: L_ R Niamh McEvoy (Boleybawn Alvaro ISH) Mikey Pender (HHS Ocala ISH) and Ger O’Neill (Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH) Images: Sportfot

Mikey Pender, the world number 97 ranked rider was the first of the Irish to return a double clear round with HHS Ocala (ISH) in a time of 37.22 seconds after a daring turn after the second fence back to the Longines double paid off and a long, brave gallop to the last left him unbeatable on the Urano De Cartigny (SF) sired gelding to become the new World Champion in the Five-Year-Old division.
HHS Ocala’s breeder, Marion Hughes was present to witness this incredible victory.

World Breeding Championship – 5 Year Old Champion Mikey Pender & HHS Ocala (ISH); Sportfot

Rising star in the Irish showjumping rankings, 19-Year-Old Niamh McEvoy ranked just outside the world’s top 400 and a member of the Irish team that won Team Gold at the Young Rider European Championships in Gorla Minore, Italy, piloted the stallion Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH) to the Silver Medal position in a time of 37.72 seconds, .5 of second behind the winner.
The stallion, Preliminary Approved in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook, is sired by Dominator 2000 Z (Zang) who stands in the Zangersheide Stud, the site of today’s famous victory.

World Breeding Championships; 5 years old final Silver medallist Niamh McEvoy & Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH); Sportfot

The Bronze Medal position went to long standing stalwart of the Irish Teams competing in Lanaken, and the man who claimed Gold in this class in 2022, Ger O’Neill on the winner of the 2023 Irish Breeder’s Classic, Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH) by Celtic Hero B Z (ZANG). His time of 39.21 seconds did enough to keep Belgium’s Walter Lelie off the podium.


World Breeding Championships 5 year old final Bronze medallist Ger O’Neill & Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH); Sportfot

Today’s result replicates the historic result from 2018 when in this same age group, Irish riders took the 1-2-3 with Gold for Richard Howley and Uppercourt Cappucino (ISH), Silver for Darragh Ryan and CSF Sir George (ISH), and Bronze for today’s Champion, Michael Pender who rode HHS Vancouver (ISH) on that occasion.


World Breeding Championships 5 years old final podium, Breeder presentation. L-R Ronan Rothwell (Breeder Boleybawn Alvaro), Niamh McEvoy, Mikey Pender, Marion Hughes (Breeder HHS Ocala), Gary Doherty (Breeder Ballyshan B F Super Hero) and Ger ONeill ; Sportfot


Horse Sport Ireland’s Head Of Breeding Sonja Egan PhD. Had the following to say:

“We’ve had a brilliant week so far and certainly were odds on coming into the 5-year-old finals, but you never know. Huge congratulations to Mikey, Niamh and Ger, a fantastic day for the Irish and the Irish Sport Horse studbook to fill the 5-year-old podium. There are so many here today to support the 64 combinations that are competing under the tri colour – it’s great way to start the day! I wish to congratulate the breeders of all of these horses, Marion Hughes the breeder of HHS Ocala (ISH), Ronan Rothwell of Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH) and Gary Doherty of Ballyshan B F Super H (ISH), it is a huge achievement and fantastic that they receive their deserved recognition today.”

Chef d’Equipe for the Horse Sport Ireland Young Horse Jumping Squad, Taylor Vard added:
“When we had 12 qualified, I thought it was possible as a long shot, but I was afraid to say it out loud. Now that it has happened it’s just incredible for our owners, breeders, our country. This was a real Team Effort and congratulations are owed to all connections.”

With this Gold Medal, Mikey Pender now completes his Five-Year-Old Lanaken collection, having previously earned twoBronze Medals, as well as a Silver Medal performance when he filled the Silver and Bronze positions in 2016 with Z Seven Caretina (ISH), and Z Seven Canya Dance (ISH).

The 2023 Horse Sport Ireland Young Horse Squad is 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.


HHS Ocala (ISH)
2018, Gelding by Urano De Cartigny (SF), out of Hera Van’t Roosakker (BWP), by Wandor Van De Mispelaere (BWP).
Breeder & Owner by Bravo Hughes LTD.
Rider: Michael Pender (IRL)

Boleybawn Alvaro (ISH)
2018, Stallion by Dominator 2000 Z (ZANG), out of Arina (KWPN) by Crown Z.
Breeder: Ronan Rothwell, Co. Wicklow.
Owner: GBBS International Ltd & Ronan Rothwell.
Rider: Niamh McEvoy (IRL)

Ballyshan B F Super Hero (ISH)
2018, Gelding by Celtic Hero B Z (ZANG), out of Ballyshan Luximportant (ISH) by Lux Z (HANN). Breeder: Gary Doherty, Co. Donegal.
Owner: Martin Egan.
Rider: Ger O’Neill (IRL)

Other results for Irish Riders:
8th – SVS Symphony (ISH)
2018, Mare by Comme Il Faut 5 (WESTF) out of SVS Attraction (ISH), by Air Jordan (KWPN).
Breeder & Owner: Brian Hutchinson, Co. Derry
Rider: Jason Foley (IRL)

10th – BP Millionaire (HOLST)
2018, Gelding by Million Dollar (BWP) out of Grace V (HOLST), by Centurion (HOLST).
Breeder : Kloes Volker.
Owned by Equine Evolve & Fergus Lawlor.
Ridden by Emma O’Dwyer (IRL)

11th – Castlefield Dancer (OS)
2018, Mare by Presley Boy (KWPN) out of Sacatina (OS), by Cento (HOLST)
Breeder: CDM GMBH.
Owner: Castlefield Breeding Farm.
Rider: Jason Foley (IRL)