There was $73,000 up for grabs in Round 9 of WEF Challenge Cup on Thursday at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.
The Irish contingent rode away with $61,320 of it.
Some 53 combinations contested the Alan Wade designed qualifier for Saturday night’s $401,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI5*. Of the 14 to post clear first rounds, nine elected to advance to the jump off, including five Irishmen.
All five of the riders in green posted double clear efforts to sweep the top five—and ride away with the green.
World #9 Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Sligo Balou Boy, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding new to his string, topped of podium. The last to contest the short course, the newly minted pair posted a double-clear effort in 33.75 seconds.
“I just knew that I had to go fast and try to leave the jumps up,” said Kenny. “I think the ‘nothing to lose’ part is nice when you go last in the order. You just go in thinking that if you want to try to win, you just have to leave it all out there and if it comes off, it comes off, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Michael Duffy (IRL) and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Jeff Ten Halven took second with a double clear in 34.90 seconds.
While Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Skara Glen’s Chancelloress, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (35.40s), and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and the 12-year-old Rheinländer gelding Alejandro (35.87s), took third and fourth respectively.
Cian O’Connor (IRL) rounded out the top five aboard Kilkenny, a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (36.24s).
Ireland currently has 11 riders in the world top 100.