AP McCoy’s daughter wins international grand prix, a four-star birthday and plenty of Irish success

  • After a superb seven weeks, the Andalucía Sunshine Tour 2023, sponsored by l’a Consejería de Turismo, Cultura y Deporte’ and co-financed by the European Union, came to a close with a second CCI4* win on the trot for Irishman Mikey Pender and HHS Calais.

    Mikey and Bravo Hughes’ 12-year-old gelding followed up last weekend’s win in the Suzuki grand prix with victory from last draw in the Andalucía Invitational Grand Prix, an Olympic qualifier, on 26 March.

    “It’s amazing to win the grand prix here,” Mikey said. “Calais jumped outstanding today, there were 12 in the jump-off so it was a bit more difficult than last week. Then, I was lucky enough I didn’t have to jump off.

    “It was quite fast, the class, and I think it was a brilliant course. The jump-off maybe didn’t suit me perfectly but we were lucky enough to come out with the right result.

    “It’s absolutely incredible to win two grands prix here in a row and I think it builds up our season amazingly. I think we are ready to go to the big shows and thanks to the Sunshine Tour here for giving us the chance to hopefully build up for another brilliant season.”

    There was another big win for Ireland yesterday, as Darragh Kenny ended the penultimate week of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival at Wellington International with a win in the $226,000 Bainbridge Companies CSI4* grand prix on Oakland Vantures’ Vancouver Dreams.

    He had qualified for the grand prix during the Adequan WEF Challenge Cup on Friday, but elected not to jump off with the 13-year-old mare, a strategy that paid off on Sunday.

    “You don’t have to worry about the jumps in the jump-off, you just have to get the right spot,” he said. “She’s an incredible horse.”

    “She’s like 15 out of 10 careful, so the most important thing is to get her to relax, come down a little bit and not stay up in the air,” said Kenny, who started riding the mare early this year, taking on the ride after Austria’s Max Kühner.

    “She tried her guts out today and was brilliant. You can’t help but love her.”

    Second and third place went to Lillie Keenan with Fasther and Nicola Philippaerts on H&M Luna van’t Ruytershof Z respectively; in fourth was Britain’s Sam Hutton on Casablanca-H.

    What better way could there be of celebrating your 21st than by winning a four-star grand prix in style?

    Britain’s Nicole Lockhead Anderson did just that on 27 March as she and her own eight-year-old Emerald Irish Cruise took top honours in the CSI4* Equipe Ladies Invitational. The victory topped off a super record at the Andalucía Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain – Sunday’s was their ninth win of the seven-week tour.

    “I have no words to describe how much I love this horse, she is my hero,” said Nicole, who won a brand new Equipe saddle.

    AP McCoy’s daughter Eve took the win in the Heusdens Schäffer CSI1* grand prix at the Sentower Park youth meeting in Opglabbeek, Belgium, with her father’s Cocktail d’Azur.

    Four riders jumped clear in the first round of the 1.30m class but the 15-year-old rider and 11-year-old gelding were the fastest by three seconds.

    Sophie Evans, 16, came third in the 1.40m Aloga Auction Under 25 Grand Prix on ESM Equestrian’s Hatzidee PR, and Madison Seedhouse, also 16, came third in the Emmers Equestrian Pony Grand Prix, on ESM Equestrian’s Vaughann De Vuzit.

    Shane Breen’s 13-year-old daughter Darcy, at her first international show, came third in the 1.25m Ashford Farm Children on Horses grand prix with Lea Popely’s Kunis.

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