IRISH show jumpers won 12 five-star Grands Prix across the world in 2022, that is seven more than 2021 and 10 more than a disrupted 2020.
Daniel Coyle leads the pack with three wins, while Bertram Allen scored two, one as recent as last weekend, and Mikey Pender landed two huge Global Champions Tour Grands Prix to become the youngest rider (22 at the time) to ever win two in the same season.
Coyle won his first five-star Grand Prix of the year at Rotterdam in June with Oak Grove’s Carlyle, becoming the first rider in 58 years to win the class. After competing at the World Championships in Herning with his top horse Legacy, he then started to try win some big classes with the mare and that he did. They won the five-star World Cup Grand Prix in Toronto in November, before landed another at Thermal earlier this month.
Bertram Allen’s two wins came aboard different horses. He opened the year just as he had done in 2021 by winning a big $406,000 Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida aboard the Irish Sport Horse Pacino Amiro (Pacino x NC Amiro). His latest win came just last week at the five-star show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the eight-year-old gelding Empoli de Champloue.
Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro (ISH), winners of the five-star $406,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix in Wellington \ Sportfot
Mikey Pender (23) took the world by storm this summer and his two breakout wins came aboard the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding HHS Calais (Cavalier Royale x OBOS Quality). Just days after being crowned the leading five-star rider at the Dublin Horse Show, he won the LGCT Grand Prix on Valkenswaard to book his place in the Super Grand Prix at the Prague Playoffs.
The second win came at the final leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour when the pair once again raced to a classy victory to cement their place at the top of the sport.
Shane Breen got his year off to the best possible start when, on the same weekend as being on the winning Nations Cup team, he landed the five-star Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi with his trusty partner Z7 Ipswich.
Denis Lynch got his name on the board in May when winning the €450,000 Rolex Grand Prix of Rome with Brooklyn Heights and, in doing so, became the first Irish rider to win the competition twice (the last time in 2008 with the great Lantinus). The pair then went on to compete at the FEI World Championships.
Denis Lynch and Brooklyn Heights on their way to winning the Rolex Grand Prix of Rome \ Sport e Salute/Simone Ferraro
In August, there were two Irish – Conor Swail and Shane Sweetnam – on the podium at the Dublin Horse Show but victory ultimately went to Switzerland’s Edouard Schmitz. In September, Paul O’Shea strangely had to share victory in a five-star Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows with Britain’s Matt Sampson. O’Shea was riding Imerald Van’t Voorhof.
In the same month, Shane Sweetnam won just the second five-star of his career with the brilliant Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz at Traverse City.
World number five Conor Swail won at almost every show he went to, with a win percentage of 11.4% and placing percentage of 54.8% in 2022, the best of the Irish riders and fifth overall in the Hippomundo rankings. From 11 horses, he won €1.43 million, with the best earning being his top horse Count Me In.
The 15-year-old gelding, who secured the Aga Khan Trophy back in August in a thrilling jump-off, won a total of €585,015 in prize money this year, while another prolific winner, Vital Chance de la Roque was not far behind with €452,896. The five-star Grand Prix win came in the Longines World Cup qualifier of Washington aboard Count Me In.
Swail ended his year by winning a class at CHI Geneva where unfortunately he missed out on competing at the Rolex Top 10 Final on technical grounds, having not paid the fee for the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) who run the class.