KERRY show jumper Brian Cournane was runner-up in last Sunday’s three-star $137,000 NoltexVet Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre in Wellington, Florida aboard Vittorio 12.
From 30 starters, just two made it through to the jump-off and, 24th into the arena, Cournane produced the first clear of the competition. He was then joined by Egypt Olympian Nayel Nassar, who eventually won out in the two-horse jump-off.
Cournane was first to return for the jump-off aboard his own Glenbeigh Farm LLC-owned 10-year-old gelding. They set a quick time of 56.90 seconds but with four faults, would have to wait and see if it was enough.
However, Nassar decided to play it safe with Evergate Stables LLC’s Igor Van De Wittemoere and he crossed the line with nothing to add in 60.76 to take victory. Cournane earned $27,400 for his top placing.
Two riders were denied their place in the jump-off when they incurred a single time fault. Fastest of those was USA’s Kayla Savard and Bogota Nantuel for third, ahead of Jessica Leto and Cimbura. Limerick’s Paul O’Shea finished in seventh place with Imerald Van’t Voorhpf when he picked up four faults in the first round.
The Irish celebrated earlier in the week as David O’Brien and Chansonette Farm’s El Balou OLD claimed victory in Friday’s $37,000 Assets Risk Management 1.50m at the venue.
Just six of the starting 23 made it through to the jump-off, where O’Brien was the fastest of three clear rounds in 41.62 seconds to earn just over $12,000. USA’s Lauren Hough finished second aboard Canamera 2, while Jules Cournane, who now rides under the Irish flag, was third with Castlefield Dream who is owned by her husband Brian.
It was a welcome win for O’Brien who just set up his own business. “I just started up my own business. I was working for Spy Coast Farm for about 10 years, so now I’m doing my own thing for Leap Year Farm. This horse is owned by Lillie Keenan and the Keenan family, and they have been great to let me keep the ride on that horse and produce it a bit. I’m very lucky to have a good start to the business with them. I actually haven’t shown in Wellington for about six years, so I’m excited to get back here.”