OFFALY'S Darragh Kenny and the Ann Thompson-owned stallion Balou du Reventon confirmed their position as one of the top combinations in world show jumping, with an excellent performance which saw them win the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour five-star Grand Prix at Chantilly in France on Saturday night.
The result comes less than a fortnight after the pair beat another world class line-up to win the €500,000 five-star Rolex Grand Prix at Knokke in Belgium.
Kenny was the first rider to jump clear in the opening round in Chantilly meaning he would have to go first in the six-horse jump-off which followed.
The Irish rider was at his brilliant best against the clock and a daring gallop to the last saw him cross the line clear in 37.54 seconds to put massive pressure on those who followed.
The home fans had two French riders to cheer home in the jump-off, however the first of those, Kevin Staut with Urhelia Lutterbach, finished with one fence down to finish fourth.
Hopes of a French win then rested with Pénélope Leprevost who was last to go with Vancouver de Lanlore. She produced a fine effort, however her time of 38.08 still left her half a second short of Kenny’s winning time to leave Leprevost as runner-up, while Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Chilli Willi took third spot on the podium.
The Offaly rider was glowing in his praise for his horse when speaking afterwards and said: “The horse [Balou du Reventon] was super the whole way along the course and then to the last fence, I went really fast and I don’t think he knew what was happening and then I thought I had a distance but I didn’t and he really saved me.”
Kenny’s victory in Chantilly – his first ever LGCT Grand Prix win, means he has now qualified for the end of season Super Grand Prix Final, something which Kenny was delighted to achieve at this stage of the season.
“Yeah that was really important to me," he said. "I had thought about it a lot and I really wanted to qualify and preferably early rather than later so at least I got that out of the way. The French crowd are fantastic and it’s really enjoyable this show but unfortunately I had to go and ruin their day.”