Irish riders scoop historic double at major British competition

Irish riders scooped a double of victories at the 25th anniversary Endurance GB King’s Forest Ride (31 May to 2 June).

Ireland’s Tom MacGuinness, the 67-year-old founder of Horseware, took his first FEI CEI3* 160km win aboard his own 11-year-old chestnut gelding Horseware Sasha D’Aillais. The pair came home in an average time of just over 18km/hr, ahead of Spain’s Maria Alvarez Ponton (JM Bucefala) and Omar Blanco Rodrigo (Twyst Maison Blanche).

Tom also owned the winning horse of the CEI2* ride, Horseware HLM Iguazu, ridden by fellow Irishman Martin McNamara.

“As ‘Sasha’ is trained in Spain, I think he was acclimatised to the conditions and this might have helped,” said Tom of his winning ride.

“It was warm and humid at times but there was a breeze in the forest itself. This horse is amazing, I’m very happy with how he went. He is just so generous, even when we got lost he just turned round and retraced our steps and got going.

“I didn’t have to dig into the well at all — he was just on the bridle and there was a lot more left in him which is exciting.”

The horse will now enjoy two weeks “relaxing in the field”, with the provisional aim of the European Championships at Euston Park in August “if he is fit and ready to go”.

Helen McFarland, chairman of Ireland’s Long Distance Riding Association (ILDRA) said an “Irish sweep” of the two- and three-star rides is a “real tribute to the hard work put in by Tom, his trainer Jordi, by Martin and the rest of the team”.

Endurance GB chairman Rebecca Kinnarney congratulated the competitors.

“Particular [congratulations] to our fantastic young rider champion, Maddie Pomroy, and reserve, Katie Bedwin,” she added.

“It’s unfortunate that there were no finishers in the 160km senior national championships, but endurance is a tough sport, particularly in a country with such changeable weather.

“Thanks to [organiser] Dianne Luke and the team, King’s Forest has become one of the high points of the Endurance GB calendar.

“The ride is not only renowned for its stunning course and fantastic organisation, but also the hospitality and real sense of camaraderie that epitomises our sport. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the team here for that and look forward to seeing the ride prosper into its next quarter-century.”

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One horse was lost in the CEI3* 160km ride.

Vencedor A’ Diamonds, a 10-year-old gelding owned and ridden by Switzerland’s Urs Wenger, collapsed and died 3km from home on 1 June. Mr Wenger is an experienced competitor, who rode on the Swiss team at the 2012 World Endurance Championships at Euston Park, and this was the horse’s second CEI3*.

“Vencedor A’ Diamonds performed consistently through the ride and passed the stringent veterinary parameters in place without any concerns,” said a spokesman for the ride. “[The pair] were travelling within 11 minutes of the leading horses in the CEI-3* 160km event and were 3km from home when the horse stopped.

“Veterinary services were immediately in attendance, but unfortunately the horse collapsed and died. Medics were called to the scene to treat Mr Wenger for symptoms of severe shock. We would like to express our condolences to him over this tragic event.”

An autopsy to determine the cause of death is planned.

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