Double delight for Ireland as Olympia comes to a close

  • The final day of jumping at The London International Horse Show, Olympia saw the second win of the week for Irishman Shane Breen, appearing in the international classes here for the first time.

    He pocketed a tidy £9.5k for heading The Christmas Masters — a knockout class open to the show’s top seven riders — with the nine-year-old Caretino stallion Clyde VA.

    The class’s format sees an escalating prize fund for each clear round over a track of five jumping efforts, with every rider entering the ring selecting a fence to raise. After four rounds, the surviving combinations thrash it out against the clock with the winner taking the lion’s share of the prize money, while everyone else banks £1,000 regardless of their placing.

    After a series of early knockouts — including William Funnell (Billy McCain) and William Whitaker (Lammy Beach), who faulted in the first round, and John Whitaker (Madinah) and Darragh Kenny (Carlson 93), who faulted in the second — only two riders survived all the way to the conclusion.

    It was the slower and less experienced Clyde VA who produced the sole clear, while Dutchman Maikel Van Der Vleuten clipped the first part of the double while delivering a round 1.43sec faster with the grey mare Dana Blue.

    After choosing to hike the last fence in the first round, Shane’s strategy had been to keep raising the red oxer at the second fence throughout.

    “When I walked the course, it looked like a very nice seven strides for me and he felt very comfortable doing it,” he explained, adding that his chance of victory against the clock had hinged on Maikel having a pole.

    “I knew if we were both clear he’d be faster — the horse is more experienced and a naturally quicker horse than Clyde. I just had to hope he had a fence down, which he did,” he said.

    Clyde picked up a high-profile win in a jump off class at the Royal International this year, as well as banking the grand prix at Hickstead’s September meeting. Shane has high hopes for his prospects as a future Irish team horse.

    “I think a lot of him, he’s a little bit lazy but very careful with lots of scope,” he said.

    Turkish Airlines Speed Stakes

    Italian rider Luca Maria Moneta won the hearts of the Olympia crowd when he took puissance victory here in 2013 — with the aid of a pocket full of carrots.

    It was easy to forgive him for snatching victory out of British hands when he undercut Robert Whitaker’s round on Major Delacour in the Turkish Airlines Speed Stakes by 0.11sec with his faithful partner Neptune Brecourt,

    The win was a perfect 51st birthday present for the rider, who has stepped his 17-year-old former championship partner down to “fun and easy” classes.

    “It was super nice to win on my birthday,” said Luca, who attributed his horse’s evergreen performance to his lifestyle.

    “He’s 17, but he’s jumping great,” he said. “My horses spend a lot of time in the pasture, they go in the field every day and have a life that’s really free, doing a lot of stuff more like horses and less like show jumpers.

    “I try to keep doing a few competitions with him as I need to keep making him feel important — it would kill him not to jump in competition, but I wouldn’t ask him to do nations cups or grands prix any more.”

    Continued below…

    128cm Mistletoe Stakes

    It was left to the youngest riders to close the show in the 128cm Mistletoe Stakes, which was won in exemplary style by Connie Mensley and Madonna, who executed a very forward but balanced round.

    Jumping last of three jump off contenders, the pair produced the quickest of two double clears, with Poppy Deakin (Munsboro Plunkett) collecting second place over four faulters Emily Fisher and Headmore Little Lightning.

    Nine-year-old Connie, who is based in Leicester and trains with Mark and Tanya Kyle, started riding the 15-year-old mare this year.

    “I came here last year where I jumped in the mini major with Amanda Derbyshire and was fifth, so I’d been in the ring before.” she said.

    “When it came to the jump off, I just planned on keeping moving forward as she has such a big stride.”

    Don’t miss a moment of H&H’s extensive coverage. Check out dressage and Wednesday-Saturday showjumping reports in the 28 December issue (out Friday, not Thursday this week because of Christmas schedules), while showing, driving and Sunday showjumping coverage will be in the 3 January 2019 issue.

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