Offaly’s Darragh Kenny added to Ireland’s rich haul of accumulated prize money at the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival in Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday when he won 8,000 euro for first place in the five-star speed class aboard Postage Stamp Farm’s Kannan gelding Prof de la Roque.
Prof de la Roque has had several top placings throughout the FTI WEF circuit, but Kenny noted that this was actually his first win. “It only took 12 weeks to do it,” he joked. “He is a super competitive horse. He was second in a 1.50m and he was second, third, and fourth in some of the other world ranking speed classes. He has been a really good horse for me, and today he was fantastic.”
“He is a little bit odd, but he wants to leave the jumps up,” Kenny explained. “You can go as fast as you can go with him. You can go so fast, it is unbelievable, and he just wants to miss the jumps. He is actually really easy to ride and he is really fun. He is just better when he is going a lot.”
“I couldn’t believe I was faster than McLain, actually, because McLain was flying,” Kenny said of his round, when McLain Ward and Zander were relegated to second place.
“I think after the double of liverpools, there was seven strides to the vertical, and then I turned really, really, really tight after that vertical to the next vertical. He is really great because he lands really soft at the back of the jump, so you can turn very tight.”
Speaking about his history with the horse, Kenny explained, “I have had him for a little bit. I jumped him in a couple of world cups during indoors, and now in Old Salem he will jump the grand prix classes and in Spruce Meadows he will jump some of the bigger classes. He jumped one or two grands prix down here good with one down, really unlucky, but he is also great because he can do those classes too and win in the speed classes also. That was his last class of the circuit today, so we went out with a bang.”
Fellow Irish rider Ronan McGuigan and the gelding Capall Zidane, who have already won a Grand Prix at the Florida festival, picked up another 3,700 euro when finishing third behind Kenny.
Olympian Cian O’Connor also featured, taking eighth place with the mare Quidam’s Cherie in the big jump-off class that was won by the USA’s Beezie Madden and Cortes C, while in the opening competition on Wednesday Darragh Kenny slotted Alpha VDL into third, with Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney adding to the strong Irish presence with a sixth place on the Dutch-bred Alsvid.
In what is the last week of the international festival at the Palm Beach showgrounds in Wellington, Irish competitors will be hoping for a further share of the prize money in Saturday’s final Grand Prix, when half a million US dollars will be on offer to the top-ranked finishers.