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Watch out Ruby Walsh, hold on to your hat Shane Breen, because a seriously speedy — and stylish — new jockey has hit the turf.
While the senior showjumping stars of the Stena Line Dublin Horse Show were battling it out for the big-money prizes, the undoubted hero of this year’s event (8-12 August) was nine-year-old Senan Reape and his whizzy pony Mickybo.
Together this dynamic duo won the prestigious 128cm national championship — and the hearts of the nation. The video of their winning round has been shared all around the world, already approaching some one million views.
Eighteen young hopefuls lined up for the championship in Dublin’s main arena, where seven pairs jumped clear to contest a hugely competitive jump-off. But only two could produce faultless rounds against the clock and it was Senan and the 18-year-old Mickybo who pelted round in superb style — to huge cheers from the stands — to finish some 2.5sec faster than their nearest rivals, Jack Conlon Gateau riding the appropriately name Blaengwen Kato Star in a racing finish that brought the curtain down on the third day of the show.
“We tried to be a bit confident going in to the final as they’d been jumping well, but to pull it off was an unbelievable achievement for Senan,” his father Jonathan Reape told H&H. “To win the 128cm championship at Dublin really is the Olympic Games for kids their age.”
The Reape family run Ard Chuain Equestrian Centre in Co. Mayo and were out in force to support Senan, and his brother Paddy, who also made it to the final but picked up eight faults in round one on Heartbreaker. The previous week, Paddy had jumped double clear for Ireland at the Welsh Home Pony show and elder sister Amy won the 138cm championship at Dublin two years ago with Youghal Paddy.
The family offered their gratitude to Mickybo’s owner Anita Duffy, whose daughter Orla also won the 128cm championship on the gelding at Dublin in 2015 when she was nine. The 18-year-old gelding is a 10-time visitor to the show as he has carried numerous young jockeys expertly round the coloured poles.
“He’s 18 but like a five-year-old and a real character around the yard,” said Jonathan. “He had a couple of days off after Dublin and has just got back from a hack now. Senan absolutely loves him to bits.”
With Senan’s competitive spirit, the sympathetic encouragement he gave this legendary schoolmaster over the fences and his effortlessly stylish riding, nine-year-old Senan undoubtedly has all the core ingredients to make it to the top of his profession, should he so choose.
Ireland’s superstar showjumper Bertram Allen, now 24, won Dublin’s 128cm championship at the age of 11 riding Magic Shadow, and if his stratospheric rise to the upper echelons of the sport is anything to go by, Senan Reape is a name to remember — he is surely going places.
>> Don’t miss the full report from Stena Line Dublin Horse Show — including expert analysis from GB’s performance manager Di Lampard — in this week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 16 August.