Win for Cian O’Connor in Belgian Grand Prix – Runner-up finish for Darragh Kenny in Monaco

  • 3 July 2022, 10:36

Irish riders were in superb form across Europe on Saturday evening, with Cian O’Connor and Darragh Kenny both recording significant results.

Meath-based O’Connor beat off a 57-strong field to claim victory in the three-star 1m55 Grand Prix at Knokke in Belgium. Riding the 9-year-old stallion Taj Mahal, who is owned by Sue Magnier, O’Connor was among eight riders who made it into the second round jump-off. Only two combinations would jump double clear, with the Irishman finishing over two seconds faster than Germany’s Kendra Claricia Brinkop who took runner-up spot with Nector Vd Bisschop.

“I was not expecting a win today,” O’Connor said afterwards. “Taj Mahal is still only 9-years-old. It is his first three-star Grand Prix and it’s under lights. I am so happy his previous rider Dieter Vermeiren got to see him win here. He made the horse and I was able to take him to the next level – great teamwork.”

Offaly’s Darragh Kenny meanwhile claimed a runner-up finish in the five-star Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Monaco, coming tantalisingly close to repeating the win he scored at the same venue in 2021.

Riding the 13-year-old stallion Volnay du Boisdeville, Kenny was one of just two riders to jump clear in the first round and was just pipped for victory by Austria’s Max Kühner who finished less than half-a-second faster than the Irishman in the jump-off with EIC Coriolis des Isles. The podium was shared by the same three riders from 12 months ago with Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts taking third place with H&M Miro.

Darragh Kenny smiled: “Second seems to be my position and it’s not exactly where I would like to be. But I have to say Volnay jumped unbelievable today. He has been a great horse for me since I took him over from Teddy Vlock. I was a little slow in the jump-off and that is where I lost it. I definitely knew I left the door open, I did one more stride to the vertical then I would have liked and then I was a little slow to the last and I knew I was behind today and Max made it happen. I knew when I came out the ring he could beat me and that’s not an enjoyable feeling but we will just keep fighting and trying to get that golden ticket.”

Although there are no changes in the top two positions of the overall GCT season ranking with Christian Ahlmann (GER) still leading on 210 points and Ben Maher (GBR) in second with a tally of 182 points there has been a big shuffle down the order. Pieter Devos (BEL) jumps up to third on 158 points and Darragh Kenny (IRL) claims fourth place for now with 153 points.

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