Stallion ridden at home by teenager claims high placing at showjumping Europeans

  • Ireland’s individual rider, Denis Lynch and the phenomenal stallion Vistogrand have rocketed into a strong position on day one of the European Showjumping Championships at the San Siro racecourse in Milan, Italy (30 August-3 September).

    This superb combination powered round Uliano Vezzani’s track clear in 77.38sec to go into the top 10 before the halfway point in the first qualifying competition for teams and individual athletes at these championships. Denis and Vistogrand finished the day in 23rd individually and it was a great day for the Irish, who went through to day two in fourth place.

    “I’ve been in this situation plenty of times and I’m well used to it,” said Denis, who is based in Germany and was part of the gold medal-winning Ireland team from the 2017 European Championships. “Uliano is a very, very experienced course designer and has a very good feel for everything.”

    Denis took the reins on the Fantaland x Mr Visto stallion from Shane Breen last year, but he was originally bred and produced in Great Britain by Carron Nicol.

    “I’m obviously very lucky to have him. I think he’s a fantastic stallion and we’re very excited about him,” said Denis. “He let me ride him well and I was very happy.

    “We knew about him last year. We were very interested in buying him because we have quite a lot of stallions. His pedigree is very interesting, because they’re not lines that have been used a lot. We felt he was a good English stallion with different bloodlines. His confirmation is a real sire type, too.

    “So we got him in December and we’ve just been trying to get together and build a relationship. I was very lucky to be on the winning Nations Cup team in Rome with him and he was nominated for here on the long list. So I was very delighted to be on that list, then eventually he made his way here.”

    European Showjumping Championships: “I respected the chef d’equipe’s decision”

    Vistogrand, who is looked after by groom Laurie Leroy, is ridden at home by Denis’s 19-year-old daughter.

    “He likes her a lot,” said Denis. “He has a lot of blood and a lot of temperament – he’s a very, very powerful stallion. With him, we don’t want to switch him on too much, just keep him as relaxed as possible. He has a great temperament, he has a very kind mentality.”

    On being picked to jump as an individual, rather than on the Ireland team for the European Showjumping Championships, Denis said: “[Our chef d’equipe] Michael Blake found the decision very difficult for yesterday and I completely respected it.

    “I was early to go today, so I could give the lads [on the team] some help, to give them tips with my experience. I feel I am a team member. I think the fifth man is equally important as the third or fourth man at any championships and I would emphasise that to the younger riders coming through. So it’s great to be here. Hopefully I can give these younger lads, if they need any help with anything, be it a bottle of water or whatever it may be – I’m there if they need me.”

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