Irishman Paul Kennedy hailed the “amazing” Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show after claiming a brilliant win in Friday’s four-star feature class.
Paul, who finished third in last year’s Bolesworth grand prix with his home-bred Cartown Danger Mouse, returned to the show’s International Arena and once again delivered an outstanding performance.
The 1.50-metre competition, sponsored by Watts Commercial Finance, delivered a thrilling jump-off that Paul clinched by just six hundredths of a second from his fellow Irishman and Nations Cup rider Shane Breen.
A testing jump-off track challenged all combinations chasing the £7,100 top prize, and Paul did just enough to hold off Shane and Vendi Cruz. American Michael Hughes took third on Zerlin M, while Sweden’s Jonna Ekberg was fourth with Univers du V.
Reflecting on his winning round, Paul said: “I watched Michael Hughes go, and he had a fantastic round, and I sort of knew I had to do everything to beat that.
“The only place I thought I could be quicker was to the last fence. I chanced seven strides, and it came off.
“It’s a great class to win and a fantastic show to ride at. I am very thankful to Nina Barbour and the team here for putting on this amazing event, and to win here is special because it is almost a local show for me, being based just down the road.
“Cartown Danger Mouse is a home-bred horse and has been a great servant. She is a real battler and trier. She just loves her job.”
There was British success in the 1.35-metre four-star class, sponsored by Evans Halshaw Ford, as Leicester-based Lance Whitehouse took the honours aboard Cartino III.
The one-round competition produced some outstanding performances, but Lance’s time of 60.45 seconds edged Holly Smith and Claddagh Iroko into second place, with Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr third on Falco van de Clehoeve and Oliver Fletcher fourth aboard Disckoboy DN.
Lance said: “I am really pleased with the horse. It was a very quick class. You had to really set off from the start and try and stay in that rhythm.
“The horse is very good against the clock. He turns as soon as you give him the instruction, and he is away.
“There were two oxers at fences six and seven, and we were very quick on the turn back which maybe saved half a second. He is so responsive that he just gets a little bit of time in the corners.
“I have been riding him for two years. He’s generally my speed-class horse, although we do step him up here or there to two-star grand prix level. He can do a little bit of everything. He’s a lovely horse to have and so nice to ride.”