ANDREW Bourns was runner-up in the first “Saturday Night Lights” event at Wellington International as the venue gears up for the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival. Bourns guided the ISH gelding Sea Topblue to second place in the four-star $216,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix.

The class was won by a former horse of Bourns’ in Benny’s Legacy, ridden by the USA’s Adrienne Sternlicht. From 41 starters over Anthony D’Ambrosio’s track, just seven kept all the fences up to progress to the jump-off, including three Irish riders.

Fourth to go in the jump-off, Brazil’s Santiago Lambre was the first rider to produce a clear round. The lead changed hands again when Bourns, fifth to go, put in an impressive performance with the nine-year-old gelding by Chacco Blue out of Sea Top Lady (Lux Z) who was bred by James and John Meade. They set the standard in 42.90.

However, Sternlicht was next to go with Benny’s Legacy and she shaved three-tenths of a second off his time, stopping the clock at 42.63 seconds. Co Clare’s David Blake was the final rider to take it on with Keoki, but finished with 12 faults in sixth place, just ahead of Sligo’s Darragh Kerins in seventh with Lissino, who collected 20 faults in the jump-off.

Bourns collected $43,200 in prize money for second, while the winner earned $71,000. “I’ve had Benny now for over three years and he has exceeded all of my expectations, as well as everyone else’s,” commented Sternlicht of the 14-year-old by Lupicor who was produced in Ireland by Jessica Keuhnle and Jenny Rankin before being sold.

“He’s so reliable and we know each other so well. I’m really grateful to have him in my life; he’s such a character, and everyone on my team completely adores him. Moving forward, I’ll pick and choose and be very selective with him, so you won’t see him out for at least two months.”

Bourns and Sea Topblue had earlier finished runner-up in Thursday’s 1.55m Grand Prix qualifier, producing one of just three double-clear rounds. Shane Sweetnam placed fifth with Out of the Blue SCF, while Eoin McMahon was sixth aboard Happy Time.

Allen runner-up

Germany-based Harry Allen is currently competing in the USA and he finished runner-up in Sunday’s $50,000 1.50m. From 53 starters, 14 made it through to the jump-off where Brazil’s Luiz Franciso De Azevedo landed victory aboard Collin in 36.95 seconds.

Allen slotted into second in 37.39 with Calculatus, owned by Qinyu Pang. Completing the podium was Canadian native, Sam Walker and Evita (0/0 37.41). David Blake finished fifth with Claude, clear in 37.89, just ahead of Jonathan Corrigan with Fair Play (0/0 40.01).