DENIS Lynch’s 16-year-old top stallion Rubens LS La Silla was showing no signed of slowing down last weekend when he romped to victory in the Derby of La Balue at the five-star French Nations Cup Show.

While the venue is no longer part of the Division 1 Longines FEI Nations Cup series, it did place host to a Nations Cup competition, won by Belgium, but Ireland did not line out. Lynch and Louth rider Mark McAuley were the only two Irish representatives in the five-star and they both featured on the Derby podium.

Just 14 started over the 22-obstable course, and only two managed to stay clear. Lynch was fastest of those by almost seven seconds to collect the top prize of €10,000, ahead of Frenchman Nicolas Delmotte in second with Denerys Du Montceau. McAuley posted the fastest time of the class with Miebello but four faults meant he had to settle for third place and €6,000.

Speaking afterwards, Lynch said this was a big goal. “He is a very experienced horse and I am lucky to have him. This is maybe his last few shows, as he goes to stud for breeding.

“I knew Mark [McAuley] had a horse that was very fast and my Irish teammates in general are good, so I had to prepare myself well. My horse and I know each other very well, we’ve done all kinds of competitions. And before La Baule, we trained in a small lake near my home. This Derby of La Baule was really a goal for me,” Lynch commented.

McAuley was also pleased with his loyal partner Miebello who has jumped top level Nations Cup and Grand Prix competitions during his caerer. “It’s true that for an 18-year-old horse, it’s a very long course today, so we worked a lot during the last two months for this event. Today, he jumped very well. I think he deserved to win today,” he said.

“The atmosphere was really great. When you have an event like that with such a public, it’s really the best for the sport, it’s so nice for us! Bravo Denis, I am very happy for him. Of course, next year I hope to win!”

On Sunday, Lynch was back in the line-up, this time taking the runner-up spot in the 1.45m class. Riding GC Chopin’s Bushi, he delivered a clear round in a time of 24.73. Lynch was fractions behind the winners, France’s Laurent Goffinet and Absolut De Lacke, who stopped the clock in a time of 24.31.

Underhill lands Grand Prix

Neither rider featured highly in Sunday’s 1.60m Rolex Grand Prix where victory went to Canada’s Beth Underhill with Dieu Merci Van T&L. Underhill has shot back into the spotlight at the top level of the sport after taking over the ride on Eric Lamaze’s horses, having spent time producing younger horses in recent years.

She produced the fastest of three clears in the jump-off to win €165,000. Brazil’s Yuri Mansur finished second with Vitiki, ahead of Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S.

“I have a great track record in riding with a little break in my career; I started again not too long ago. I’ve been riding my horse for two months and this is the third 1.60m course I’ve done with Dieu Merci,” Underhill commented.

“Eric [Lamaze] told me after the first round to go for it because I could do it. I’m thrilled with my performance and thrilled to be with Eric who has given so much and continues to give us everything. The plan for Team Canada is now to go to the CSIO5* in Rome, I will then return to Canada and continue to ride Eric’s horses.

“The first time I rode for Team Canada was in 1990. We are very close with Eric and we get along very well. He contacted me in November and trusted me, so I followed him and stopped my activity at that time to focus on my riding career.”