Watson fifth after Burghley cross-country

  • 2 September 2023, 16:30
Sam Watson rockets up the leader board after stellar cross-country

Sam Watson during a Tokyo 2020 Team Ireland Announcement for Equestrian at the National Conference Centre, Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Not for the first time this year, Irish event riders have shown their class in the cross-country phase and jumped up the leader board.

Today, it was the turn of Carlow’s Sam Watson, riding the traditionally bred Irish Sport Horse SAP Talisman at the CCI5*-L Burghley Horse Trials.

Watson added just 0.4 time penalties to his dressage score of 35.8. The Olympian now sits in fifth place heading into the final show jumping phase tomorrow.

It is the first time SAP Talisman has competed at five-star level, although he was part of the Irish Senior Eventing team at the 2021 European Championship in Avenches, Switzerland.

The 12-year-old bay gelding owned in partnership between Watson’s wife Hannah, and his mother Julia. Bred in Tipperary by Rosemary Ponsonby, he is by Puissance (ISH) and out of the thoroughbred mare Ali Row.

Padraig McCarthy also moved up the leader board to 17th. He partnered another Irish Sport Horse – HHS Noble Call. The pair jumped clear cross-country, adding 14.4 time penalties to have a combined score of 49.3.

The striking 12-year-old grey gelding finished inside the top 20 at Burghley Horse Trials last year and finished eighth at Bicton CCI5*-L on his five-star debut in 2021.

Bred by Kilkenny’s Anne Hughes, he is by Heritage Fortunus (HANN) and out of the Irish Sport Horse mare Noblina.

Unfortunately, following a third-place finish at Badminton Horse Trials earlier this year, Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue retired on the cross country.

Dressage leader Tim Price maintains his lead, now on a score on 26.7 with Vitali. The pair added 8.0 time penalties to their record breaking dressage score of 18.7. This was the best score ever recorded at Burghley.

Ballaghmor Class (ISH) is the highest placed Irish Sport Horse. Ridden by Oliver Townend, the pair are on a score of 29.0 for second place. The 2007 gelding is by Courage II (HOLST) and out of Kilderry Place (ISH).

Oughterard Cooley (ISH)[TIH], ridden by Wills Oakden, is in fourth place. Cavalier Crystal (ISH) and Harry Meade sit in sixth place, while Pippa Funnell and the Irish Sport Horse Majas Hope are now in eighth. Oakden also holds ninth place with Arklow Puissance (ISH)[TIH].

The final show jumping phase will take place tomorrow, Sunday 3rd of September.


SAP Talisman (ISH)[TIH] – 2011 gelding by Puissance (ISH) out of Ali Row (IRE) by Ali-Royal (IRE). Breeder: Rosemary Ponsonby, Co Tipperary. Owner: Hannah Watson and Julia Watson. Rider: Sam Watson (IRL)

HHS Noble Call (ISH) – 2011 gelding by Heritage Fortunus (HANN) out of Noblina (ISH) by Cavalier Royale (HOLST). Breeder: Anne Hughes, Co Kilkenny. Owner: Alan Chaffe, James Chaffe and Padraig McCarthy. Rider: Padraig McCarthy (IRL)

Ballaghmor Class (ISH) – 2007 gelding by Courage II (HOLST) out of Kilderry Place (ISH). Breeder: Noel Hickey, Co Limerick. Owner: Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan. Rider: Oliver Townend (GBR)

Oughterard Cooley (ISH)[TIH] – 2010 gelding by Puissance (ISH) out of Oughterard Sky Cruise (ISH) by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Gerard Lynch, Co Clare. Owner: Liz Magennis and Debbie Whalley. Rider: Wills Oakden (GBR)

Cavalier Crystal (ISH) – 2010 mare by Jack of Diamonds (SWB) out of Cavalier Iris (ISH) by Cavalier Royal (HOLST). Breeder: Thomas Horgan, Co Waterford. Rider: Harry Meade (GBR)

Arklow Puissance (ISH)[TIH] – 2011 gelding by Puissance (ISH)[TIH] out of Cruising Jewel (ISH)[TIH] by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Michael Byrne (Wicklow). Rider: Wills Oakden (GBR)

Majas Hope (ISH)[TIH] – 2007 gelding by Porter Rhodes (TB) out of Brown Sue (ISH)[TIH] by Flagmount King (ID). Breeder: Jack Murphy (Kilkenny). Rider: Pippa Funnell (GBR)