Kilkenny teenager Jack Ryan making his mark on the international stage

  • 4 April 2020, 10:32

After enjoying much success on the Irish National Show Jumping circuit and at Youth European Championship level in recent years, 18-year-old Jack Ryan this year burst onto the international scene following some phenomenal results in the Middle East.

Having grown up in the picturesque village of Inistioge in Co Kilkenny with parents Marguerite and John, along with siblings Conor (12) and Ciara (10), Jack is now based at Hickstead in the UK with fellow Irish rider Shane Breen.


Speaking this week to Horse Sport Ireland, Jack Ryan outlined how his equestrian career all began:

“My mother used to ride as an Amateur and it all started from there. She was in Warrington [Top Flight Equestrian Centre] in Kilkenny and then I started doing riding lessons and it went from there. I remember there was a photo of me in Warrington, i’d say I was still in a buggy at the time, I was sitting up on a horse Eddie Moloney used to ride, Chatsworth Dan, so you could say I was riding since I was able to walk and my parents have been a huge support over the years.

“I had a good enough pony career – it wasn’t outstanding or anything and as soon as I got the chance to move on to horses I did. I think I was about 11 when I started on horses, that was on a horse called Sandballin that my mother used to ride. I went the Europeans that year in the Children on Horses (U14) and then I got Cavalier Teaca.”

It wasn’t long before Jack Ryan was making his mark at senior level, jumping in his first spring tours and national Grand Prix competitions by the age of just 14. Then in 2018, he was part of James Kernan’s Irish Junior team which won team bronze at the European championships with Cavalier Teaca.

The 2018 bronze medal-winning GAIN Irish Under 18 Show Jumping squad (l-r) Cian Harrison, Jason Foley, Harry Allen, Jack Ryan, Kate Derwin and team manager James Kernan

Jack would go on to compete at four Youth European Championships with Cavalier Teaca – a 2007 mare Irish Sport Horse mare by Gildawn Diamond (ID) out of Teaca (ISH) by Cavalier Royale (HOLST), bred by Barry Kiernan in Co. Longford and now owned by Marguerite Ryan.

“We got Cavalier Teaca in 2015 so I had her three years when we won the European Bronze medal in 2018. Greg Broderick had Cavalier Teaca as a seven-year-old and I got her in the middle of that year.”

In 2019 Jack Ryan achieved huge success with a horse the family bred at home in Kilkenny. BBS McGregor (ISH) by Cardento (HOLST) bred and owned by Marguerite Ryan, and ridden by Jack Ryan, won the 7-year-old final of the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Showjumping Series at Barnadown in Co Wexford.

“He is a really special one,” Jack said about BBS McGregor. “Unfortunately his dam died two years ago. She had one other foal which is a full sister to BBS McGregor and if she is half as good as he is we will be going well.”

Jack Ryan with Eddie Moloney who has been a huge influence on his career

In recent month’s Jack has taken up a new job with Tipperary-born Shane Breen at his UK base in Hickstead and Jack outlined how the move came about.

“Shane rang Eddie Moloney at the start of October last year and was wondering if he thought I would be interested in coming to work for him. Eddie has been a massive support with my career the whole way along – from the later pony years and up to now. We were full at home at the time so I wasn’t really sure what to do [about the job offer with Shane Breen] but then I decided that the experience would be really good. I met Shane then in Lier (BEL) and we spoke about it and it all started from there.”

It wasn’t long before Ryan was making his mark on the international stage. On a trip to the Middle East he recorded several hugely impressive results with horses such as Essenar High Hopes, Colmar and KBS Major Player (ISH).

Jack Ryan and the Kennedy Bros Sport Horses-owned Irish Sport Horse KBS Major Player pictured following victory in the SERC U25 Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi in the UAE in January

“With the way things have turned out with the Coronavirus, we were actually very lucky that we went to the Middle East and got a few good results early in the season.”

The Coronavirus situation has meant all shows are postponed at the moment, and we asked Jack what has it been like not been able to go to shows.

Jack pictured with Michael Quirke and Shane Breen following a recent win in the Middle East

“Everyone puts in great work here [in Hickstead] and there is plenty of support. Before everything was cancelled we would ride out nine or ten horses a day but we have left a lot of the horses out now with the current situation and would now ride six or seven a day. We wouldn’t be working the horses as hard now, just keeping them ticking over, keeping them healthy and fit and hoping this blows over as quick as possible so we can get back jumping again. The facilities here are fantastic here – plenty of places to go hacking. Shane would have about 40 horses in his yard in total.”

While the current jumping season is paused for everyone around the globe, Jack Ryan still has his sights set on a senior Nations Cup call up in the near future.

“I would have hoped to do a few senior Nations Cup’s this year and maybe the Young Rider Europeans but that’s all going to change now, so we will just have to wait and see.”

With his undoubted talent and determination, you feel it will not be long before Jack Ryan will complete his latest target.