It has been an incredible year for the Irish-bred horse at the top level of Eventing, with Irish horses winning the three biggest five-star events consecutively in 2019. The first ever newly categorised five-star event, the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event was won by world-class Cooley Master Class (ISH) with Oliver Townend (GBR) back in April, and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials came to a dramatic close when Vanir Kamira (ISH) and Piggy French (GBR) clinched the win just edging out Townend and Ballaghmor Class (ISH). Finally, Pippa Funnell (GBR) and MGH Grafton Street (ISH) took the win at Burghley over one of the most complex courses of the year so far.
Bringing “the big three” to a close last week, the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials was the ultimate show-down between the world’s top horses and riders – a fitting end to the three biggest five-star Eventing competitions in the world with an incredible three Irish-bred wins. The Dressage phase saw six Irish-bred horses finish in the top ten, some ridden by the world’s highest ranking riders such as world number one and Burghley 2018 winners Tim Price (NZL) with Ringwood Sky Boy (ISH), as well as Pippa Funnell with MGH Grafton Street (ISH), Piggy French with Vanir Kamira (ISH), the 2019 Badminton winners, and Oliver Townend with Ballaghmor Class (ISH), all for Great Britain.
The Cross Country phase was when the horse and rider combinations were truly tested – the course was over incredibly undulating ground, with technical combinations throughout. A fantastic testament to the Irish-bred horse – of the 31 finishers, 14 were Irish-bred (45%), with seven Irish-bred horses finishing in the top ten (70%), and 10 in the top 20 (50%). Throughout the hugely testing competition, the Irish horse held its own – of the initial 67 starters, 42% were Irish-bred, and of the 33 horses which completed the Cross Country phase, 45% were Irish-bred.
Some of the most outstanding achievements of the week were attributed to Irish horses – Vanir Kamira (ISH) and Piggy French (GBR), 2019 Badminton winners were the only combination to make it around the Cross Country course clear and inside the time leaving them in second place overall.
Another remarkable moment was when Ivar Gooden (ISH) and Imogen Murray (GBR) cleared the Cross Country course with only four time faults, bringing them from 60th place into 8th after Cross Country. Then after jumping clear and inside the time in the Show Jumping phase, the pair finished in 6th place. Pippa Funnell and Irish-bred MGH Grafton Street (ISH) picked up just four time faults on Cross Country, increasing their score from 22.8 after dressage to 26.8, just 0.1 lower than Piggy’s score of 26.9, their score in the Dressage phase.
In third place after Cross Country was Great Britain’s Oliver Townend with Ballaghmor Class (ISH) on a score of 27.3 with only two Cross Country time faults to add, and the score difference between third and fourth position meant that all top three riders had a fence in hand to be able to finish in the final top three after Show Jumping. As it happened, the top three all finished with one fence down, adding four points to their scores.
It is a testament to the Irish-bred horse’s skill, scope, ability and consistency that the three biggest five-star events in the world, the Grand Slam of Eventing, have been won by Irish-bred horses consecutively in 2019. At Badminton, the top six horses were Irish-bred, and Irish horses made up 80% of the top ten. At Kentucky, Cooley Master Class (ISH) claimed the first five-star win, and Piggy French’s Quarrycrest Echo (ISH) finished fourth at Kentucky (and also recently helped Team Great Britain claim the silver medal at the European Championships last month), demonstrating the truly world-class standard of the Irish-bred horse, and to round up the year with such a fantastic result at Burghley is the perfect result for Irish horses.
See below for the full Irish-bred results:
1st MGH Grafton Street (ISH)[AKA Bannerfarm Rocket] – 2008 gelding by OBOS Quality 004 (OLD). Rider: Pippa Funnell (GBR) 22.8, 4, 1.0 = 30.8
2nd Vanir Kamira (ISH) – 2005 mare by Camiro De Haar Z (ZANG) out of Fair Caledonian (WNTR) by Dixi (TB). Breeder: Kathryn Jackson (Monaghan). Rider: Piggy French (GBR) 26.9, 4, 0.0 = 30.9
3rd Ballaghmor Class (ISH) – 2007 gelding Courage II (HOLST) out of Kilderry Place (ISH). Breeder: Noel Hickey (Limerick). Rider: Oliver Townend (GBR) 25.3, 4, 2.0 = 31.3
5th Bango [ISH][AKA Bango Royale] – 2006 gelding by Garrison Royal (ISH) out of No Sale (ISH)[TIH] by Don Tristan (TB). Breeder: James Foley (Wexford). Rider: Tim Price (NZL) 29.6, 0, 12.0 = 41.6
6th Ivar Gooden [ISH] – 2007 gelding by Young Convinced (TB) out of Ballybrohan Diamond [ISH] by Coevers Diamond Boy (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Pat Coffey (Tipperary). Rider: Imogen Murray (GBR) 40.4, 0, 4.0 = 44.4
7th Santiago Bay (ISH) – 2008 mare by ARS Vivendi (HOLST) out of Zantus (ISH) by Aldatus Z (OLD). Breeder: Thomas Merrigan (Wicklow). Rider: Gemma Tattersall (GBR) 29.9, 4, 11.2 = 45.1
10th Leamore Master Plan (ISH) [AKA Sambuco] – 2009 gelding by Master Imp (TB) out of Ardragh Bash (ISH) by Cavalier Royale (HOLST). Breeder: Michael Byrne (Wicklow). Rider: Ariel Grald (USA) 38.1, 4, 15.6 = 57.7.
Other Irish-bred finishers:
14th Camembert (ISH) – 2005 gelding by Courage II (HOLST) out of Skehanagh Diamond Lass (ISH)[TIH] by Colin Diamond (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: John Freeman (Galway). Rider: Emily Philip (GBR) 66.5
18th LCC Barnaby (ISH) – 2006 gelding by Guy Cavalier (ISH) out of Lady Tanjour (ISH) by Rafael (KWPN) Breeder: Martin Collins (Meath). Rider: Lillian Heard (USA) 71.9
20th On the Brash (ISH) – 2006 gelding by Mise Eire (TB) out of Hollymount Girl [ISH] by Diamond Clover (ID). Breeder: Peter Brady (Roscommon). Rider: Caroline Powell (NZL) 75.1
22nd The Lion (ISH) – 2002 gelding by Ricardo Z (ZANG) out of Cartron Countess (ISH)[TIH] by Nad Elshiba (TB). Breeder: Sean Donohoe (Longford). Rider: Matthew Heath (GBR) 79.1
23rd Shannondale Quest (ISH) – 2005 gelding by Cascaletto St Ghyvan Z (ZANG) out of Shannon Dales Clover (ISH)[TIH] by Clover Hill (ID). Breeder: Peter Rice (Monaghan). Rider: David Doel (GBR) 80.4
24th Blackthorn Cruise (ISH) – 2009 gelding by Vancouver (KWPN) out of MS Cruise (ISH)[TIH] by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: David Carey (Mayo). Rider: Daniel Jocelyn (NZL) 82.5
27th MGH Bingo Boy (unk) – 2008 gelding. Rider: Nicky Hill (GBR) 86.7.
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