Williams Tops Mullingar Grand Prix
- 5 June 2023, 21:43
Rhys Williams claimed victory in the 1.45 Grand Prix at Mullingar International
The future of Irish show jumping certainly looks bright following a fantastic 1.45m Grand Prix at the CSI2* show in Mullingar this afternoon. 18-year-old Rhys Williams was victorious following an exceptional jump-off which had everyone watching on the edge of their seats.
With over 60 starters lining out to compete and the sun shining down on the Westmeath venue it seemed the perfect way to spend a Bank Holiday Monday. The Grand Prix was the culmination of the five-day international show which proved hugely successful, attracting a large number of Irish and international athletes.
Clear rounds were few and far between. At the half way stage only four riders had jumped clear. In the second half of the competition it was the first and last rider into the ring that jumped clear.
Seamus Hughes Kennedy recorded his first clear with Castlefield Hera (ISH) and his second with ESI Rocky (ISH), both owned by Clare Hughes and produced through the ranks by Hughes Kennedy. Abigail Boland recorded a clear round with Quentin K, owned by Mary Boland.
Jamie Landers partnered the nine-year-old gelding Jargon DN, owned by David Hedley, to a clear round. Williams was the very last rider into the arena in the opening round and jumped a foot-perfect clear with Playboy JT Z, owned by Adrian and Paula Williams.
Despite the youthful age of both horse and rider, this combination already has a string of successful results to their name. The eight-year-old gelding won the seven- and eight-year-old class at the Dublin Horse Show last year as well as the seven- and eight-year-old championship at the Irish Breeders Classic in Barnadown last year.
Williams is a multiple European medallist, including winning the individual gold medal at the 2018 European Championship for Children on Horses with CES Cruson.
In the jump-off Hughes Kennedy set the time to beat with Castlefield Hera, 34.92 seconds. With the advantage of being last into the arena Williams, in close consultation with coach Denis Flannelly, knew there was only one place to beat him and took his chance stopping the clock in 33.18 seconds.
Speaking to HSI afterwards, Williams said:
“I saw Seamie’s round, and I thought the only place I might be able to beat him was coming into the double so I said to myself the second I land over that third to take that inside line and ride directly to the double and made up the time there. The horse – he was so quick across the ground. There was just fractions of a second in it.”
“Playboy JT Z jumped great, he’s been a great horse for me winning both the seven- and eight-year-old classes in the RDS and Barnadown last summer. He tries his heart out every jump he jumps, he’s phenomenal.
Bought as a two-year-old from a picture by Williams’ father Adrian this is a combination who have progressed together and seemed destined to do great things. Delighted with the performance today Williams will now head to Hagen for the Youth Nations Cup and is aiming towards the European Championships. There is no doubting the work ethic and determination of this young rider, who mentions, in an understated yet certain manner, that he intents on jumping in the big classes and making it to the top of the sport. With a strong support team around him, this seems a very likely outcome.
“There’s an army of people I would like to thank, my mother and father, my coach Denis Flannelly, everyone else at home, the whole team who make it all possible,” he added.
Hughes Kennedy finished second and third with Castlefield Hera and ESI Rocky respectively. A steady clear round from Landers left him in fourth and one rail down put Boland in fifth. There was plenty of competition for the fastest four faults, with sixth placing eventually going to Harry Marshall with his own Daylight VHS Z.
On Saturday at Mullingar, Susan Fitzpatrick won the 1.45m ranking class with Keatingstown Skorphults Joker.
Castlefield Hera (ISH) – 2014 mare by Plot Blue (KWPN) out of Little Miss Puissance (ISH) by Puissance (ISH). Breeder: Jim O’Neill. Owner: Clare Hughes. Rider: Seamus Hughes Kennedy (IRL).
ESI Rocky (ISH) – 2015 gelding by Stakkato Gold (HANN) out of Clonaslea (BWP) by For Pleasure (HANN). Breeder: Ennistag Stud. Owner: Clare Hughes. Rider: Seamus Hughes Kennedy (IRL).
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