Irish clean sweep in weekend’s global competitions as Nicky Galligan and Darragh Kenny claim major victories

Two of the biggest Show Jumping competitions on offer across the globe this weekend have been won by Irish riders, after Meath’s Nicky Galligan claimed a four-star Grand Prix win in California, while Offaly’s Darragh Kenny scooped the top prize in the three-star Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.

Riding The Irish Sport Horse Javas Miss Jordan, bred in Co Louth by Judy Murphy, Galligan produced one of just two clear first rounds in the $250,000 four-star Grand Prix at Thermal in California. The only other clear came from America’s Richard Spooner aboard Quirado RC and they were first to go in the jump-off, setting a target of clear in 45.70 seconds. Galligan followed and blazed around the course to comfortably beat Spooner’s time – the Irish rider stopping the clock at 41.15 to take victory.

“I was thinking, have fun today, [it’s a] two horse jump off,” explained Galligan. “I have a friend that always says to me, I want to be proud of you and I want to see you win trying to win rather than to lose trying to win. So when you have that chance, you just go for it. Richard [Spooner] had an amazing track in front of me, his line was so tight on his track,  but mine is quick across the ground,  so once I could keep the rhythm and keep going, I trusted her to be quick enough.”

Meanwhile at The Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, Offaly’s Darragh Kenny picked up his second win of the week, riding Great-Tikila J to capture the $137,000 Horseware Ireland three-star Grand Prix.Ten of the 45 starters made it into the jump-off where Kenny piloted his 10-year-old mare to a clear in 35.24 seconds for the victory.

“I actually got very lucky in the jump-off, to be honest,” said the Offaly native.. “I had planned to do the six [strides] like everybody did in the first line, then turned very tight back to the double, and she tried really hard. I had a hard rub on the back rail jumping out but got away with it, then I ended up doing six where Hilary had done five, so I thought, ‘Okay better run.’”

Kenny and his sponsors purchased the mare just over a year ago, and the win was even sweeter as it was also the first Grand Prix of her career.

“When we bought her, she was very green having only jumped 1.30m, but she’s extremely talented,” he said. “She’s careful, scopey, brave, a little bit of a mare sometimes, but in the ring her ability is incredible. I was really happy with her because I aimed her for this week. She jumped clear in the WEF and then jumped super today and felt really good.

“We’ve developed her slowly,” Kenny continued. “She’s a little bit temperamental sometimes where you have to take everything slow, so I played around with her on the grass a few other weeks, did some stuff at home, and then thought, ‘Okay, I have her in the right spot for this week.’”

Irish Young Rider Max Wachman also made it into the jump-off with Lazzaro Delle Schiave and finished in an impressive seventh place overall in what was their first Grand Prix competition as a pairing.

BREEDING
Javas Miss Jordan (ISH) – 2009 mare by Luidam (KWPN) out of Ally Angel (ISH) by OBOS Quality 004 (OLD). Breeder: Judy Murphy, Co. Louth. Owner and Rider: Nicky Galligan (IRL).

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