‘I thought I’d screwed it up’ — Irish rider credits horse for seemingly impossible grand prix victory

Darragh Kenny wins his first LGCT grand prix riding Balou Du Reventon

Irishman Darragh Kenny rocketed to glory in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Chantilly, France, on Saturday (13 July) riding the stunning 13-year-old stallion Balou Du Reventon.

In doing so, he also bagged a ticket for showjumping’s richest class, the Super Grand Prix, held at the 2019 Prague Playoffs in December.

However, a “wobble” to the final fence, meant first-drawn Darragh had to sweat it out while his five pursuers in a world class six-way jump-off tried, and failed, to beat him.

“I knew I had to be really fast with so many good riders after me,” said 31-year-old Darragh. “He’s very careful, so normally I can trust him, so I really went for it to the last but then in one moment I had a little wobble and then there was no distance any more. I just had to hope he could figure it out and I had to stay out of his way. I really thought I’d screwed it up. But he’s an incredible horse, he always wants to be clear and he tries so hard.”

Darragh beat France’s Penelope Leprevost (Vancouver De Lanlore) into second place, with last year’s Chantilly victor Nicola Philippaerts finishing third riding H&M Chilli Willi.

Darragh competed at last year’s inaugural Playoffs event, which boasted a 10 million euro prize-pot, but this will be his first time jumping in the Super Grand Prix, won last year by Edwina Tops-Alexander.

“It was an incredible event, one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and the prize-money is incredible,” said Darragh. “Giving owners the chance to win that kind of money is fantastic and having the opportunity to compete for that kind of money and prestige is amazing. If I could do something good with it, that would also be amazing.”

Great Britain’s Ben Maher now leads the 2019 series championship, bidding to defend the title he won in 2018 and, with his home event, the London leg of the LGCT, just weeks away (2-4 August), there’s plenty to play for.

‘The game plan is to be stronger from London until the end of season,” said Ben.

Don’t miss the full report from the Chantilly leg of the LGCT — including the full insight from Darragh Kenny — in next week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 18 July.