IRISH horses and riders delivered excellent performances in Saturday's five-star €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix at Estoril in Portugal, not least from Galway’s Michael Duffy who claimed third spot on the podium with the Irish Sport Horse Mullaghdrin Touch the Stars.
Duffy only recently picked up the ride on the talented 14-year-old stallion, who was bred in Co Kildare by Dr Noel Cawley. They were among 11 combinations who made it into the jump-off, where a second clear round in 38.58 seconds would see them take third place and €45,000 at the finish. Duffy and Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars (ISH) had also finished third in the earlier 1.55m/1.60m speed class at the same venue.
After claiming his first ever podium finish in a Global Tour Grand Prix, Duffy (24) is now aiming even higher: “It is great to be on the podium – it is my first time on the [LGCT] podium and when you’re against guys like this…when I was a kid growing up I watched them, I just need to ride a bit faster but good to be put it up against them. Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars is a very talented horse and has a great heart. I have only had him for four shows so I have a good feeling about him. We will be working hard to try go two better in Chantilly. Ben was just before me I knew he was going to be quick, all you can do is do the best. Hopefully next time it will be enough."
Offaly’s Darragh Kenny finished just one place behind Duffy in fourth with Important De Muze, completing a double clear round with a time of 39.56 to take home €30,000. Louth’s Mark McAuley also made it through to the jump-off with Utchan de Belheme and one fence down against the clock saw them finish in 10th place.
The winner's prize of €99,000 went to Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and Chaplin (37.64), beating his London Knights teammate Ben Maher (GBR) and Explosion W
(38.09) only hours after they won the Global Champions League together earlier in the evening.
Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars (ISH) – 2005 stallion by Touchdown (ISH) out of Irco Rain (ISH), by Irco Mena (SWB). Breeder: Dr Noel Cawley, Co. Kildare. Owners: Jessie Drea & Lynne Humphries. Rider: Jessie Drea (GBR)
Source: Horse Sport Ireland press release