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Top rider’s ‘terrible disappointment’ at losing the backing of key owner

Irish showjumper Darragh Kenny has parted from his biggest owner, Ann Thompson, in a huge shock for the sport.

The decision to announce the formal dissolution of their partnership came after the US owner decided it was “time for an evaluation of my priorities” after Covid-19 took such a huge toll in America. She has decided instead to concentrate on her work rescuing animals.

Darragh has been competing several horses owned by Ann, including his championship and Nations Cup ride Balou De Reventon, as well as other international winners Classic Dream (pictured), Important De Muze and Romeo 88. She also owns Gelano and the promising seven-year-old Delta De La Rasse.

“Over the past few weeks, Ann has explained to me that her priorities have changed, and that she wishes to focus on her foundation work rescuing horses,” said Darragh. “While I am terribly disappointed as we’ve had such a fabulous partnership, I do understand.

“Anyone who knows Ann will be aware of how passionate she is about animal rescue. I am immensely grateful to Ann for everything she has done for me over the years, and I will miss her and her horses very much. I wish her only the best and will always value our friendship.”

Darragh and Ann first joined in partnership three years ago. The 32-year-old Irishman is currently ranked number seven in the world — rising significantly up the rankings thanks greatly to the success of Ann’s horses on the international circuit in recent years. He runs Oakland Stables alongside US rider Hardin Towell and is based in both America and the Netherlands.

Darragh has represented Ireland at the world championships and won the Aga Khan Trophy at Dublin Horse Show. His big grands prix wins with the 14-year-old stallion Balou Du Reventon came at the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) in Chantilly and the Rolex grand prix at Knokke Hippique in 2019. The pair also finished runners-up in the LGCT Super Grand Prix in Prague last year.

“With the Covid-19 outbreak having such a huge toll here in America, I explained to Darragh that it was important for me personally to reorganise my level of involvement in the sport horse industry and concentrate on my work with animals in need,” said Ann.

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“I do not plan on leaving the sport completely, but it is time for an evaluation of my priorities. Darragh understands my passion, and I appreciate his support for my decision.”

“It has been a pleasure to support him, and to get to know the people in his circle, especially his parents whom I adore,” she added.

“Of course, I feel the sadness that comes with the ending of any meaningful partnership, but I will always have the great memories of Darragh’s accomplishments on my horses. Darragh was not only my rider but a friend. I’m lucky to still have my friend.”

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