After one of the most dramatic competitions in its 65-year history, an Irish Sport Horse won the Badminton four-star Horse Trials in England yesterday, with three other Irish-bred horses finishing in the top ten.
Bred in Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow by Paula Cullen – mother of Irish rugby star Leo Cullen – the bay mare Paulank Brockagh moved from 25th place after the dressage phase up to fifth after cross-country, to outright victory after the show jumping phase Sunday afternoon.
Ridden by Australia’s Sam Griffiths, the 11 year-old daughter of Touchdown had just one fence down in the show jumping arena at the Duke of Beaufort’s estate, and came home 2.8 penalty points ahead of British runner-up Oliver Townend and Armada, while Britain’s Harry Meade rode the Irish-bred Wild Lone into third place.
Australia’s Paul Tapner, the overnight leader after cross country, claimed fourth place on the Irish Sport Horse Kilronan, while New Zealand’s Tim price placed yet another Irish Sport Horse, Ringwood Sky Boy, in ninth.
Austin O’Connor was best of the Irish riders at Badminton, finishing in 15th place on Ringwood Mississippi (ISH) after lowering just one pole during show jumping.
This year’s Badminton saw 25 eliminations and 18 riders opting to retire on the tough new-look cross country course, while in show jumping no rider managed to finish on a fault-free score.
The success of Irish-bred horses at Badminton’s four-star event followed close on the heels of victory in the USA’s four-star competition two weeks ago, when another Irish Sport Horse, Bay My Hero – bred by Bryan Maguire in Wexford – took first place in the famous Rolex Kentucky event, ridden by Britain’s William Fox-Pitt.