Burghley pathfinder retires from eventing: ‘it’s what he deserves’

  • The owner of four-star stalwart Dromgurrihy Blue has paid tribute to the “genuine and bold” gelding on his retirement from the sport.

    The Irish-bred gelding, by Puissance, was the pathfinder at Burghley 2015 with Oliver Townend, jumping clear with 5.6 time penalties.

    The combination won Burgham CIC3* in 2016 and the horse also had success with several other riders.

    Harry Dzenis took the horse to his first CCI4* in 2014, completing Burghley, and the pair had numerous top-10 finished at advanced and international events.

    Owned by Michael McGrath, the horse (known as “Rocky”) was sourced as a youngster by Michael Ryan’s sister-in-law, Sheila Donegan.

    “She spotted something in him and bought him as a three-year-old,” said Mr McGrath.

    “She gave me a selection of horses to look at and I picked him, I’m not sure what I saw in him, but I saw something.

    “He is a big, Irish build — athletic but stocky, a typical Irish horse who would jump anything, he was excellent across country.”

    The horse started his career with the Ryans — Patricia rode him as a four- and five-year-old before Michael took over the reins and rode him up to three-star.

    Rocky then spent two seasons with Harry before Oliver took on the ride.
    Mr McGrath remembered the feeling of his horse being first out on the Burghley cross-country track.

    That was a tremendous day,” he said. “I think they had reversed the course that year and everyone was in the riders and owners TV room watching to see how he would get on and he had a tremendous round.”

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    Mr McGrath added the horse’s win at Burgham with Oliver and his first international victory at Tattersalls CIC1* 2009 with Michael are among his favourite memories of the horse.

    The gelding accrued 644 British Eventing and 572 Eventing Ireland points during his 11-year career and has retired to live at Mr McGrath’s home in Ireland.

    “He is fully retired [from eventing] — we might hack him around and maybe do a bit of dressage,” said Mr McGrath, adding the horse is kept company by his daughter’s retired event pony.

    “He owes us nothing at this stage, he gave us a lot of pleasure and we are very happy now to look after him and ensure he has a nice retirement — it is what he deserves.”

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