IRELAND has a new European Champion after Athlone’s Kate Derwin claimed the gold medal in the U18 (Junior) competition at the European Youth Show Jumping Championships at Zuidwolde in The Netherlands on Sunday.
An excellent performance from Kate Derwin and the Irish Sport Horse AHG Whiterock Cruise Down saw them finish with five clear rounds during the course of the week-long competition, including a double clear round in this morning’s final.
Holding the overnight lead, Derwin was last to jump in the deciding round knowing a fence down or even a time fault would see her drop down the leader board.
She kept her cool to complete a flawless performance and claim the individual gold medal to add to the team bronze she won when part of James Kernan’s GAIN Irish U18 team on Friday.
The individual silver medal went to Spain’s Maya De La Joya Fernandez-Longoria, while Belgium’s Thibeau Spits took bronze.
Wexford’s Harry Allen also completed a double clear final round with Dancing Queen Z to finish just outside the medal places in fifth.
The result sees Kate Derwin add to her European medal collection having previously won team gold and individual silver at the European U16 (Pony) Championships in 2017 while she was also part of the GAIN Irish team that won U18 team bronze in 2018.
Kate Derwin was thrilled with how her horse performed and outlined how winning the gold medal was always her aim this week after missing out on a individual medal 12 months ago.
“It was very close all week," she said. "My horse jumped phenomenal last year and this year he came out and gave it even more than he did last year and he really proved to be the best horse.
"I came here with a plan. Last year I finished fourth individually and this year my trainer Denis Flannelly and my father put together a plan. They said last year it was left behind but this year I was going to win a medal and not just any medal but was going to be gold, so the plan was the gold medal.
"There was a lot of pressure on today especially as I didn’t even have a fence in hand – I had to be clear to win the gold medal but the support I have from everybody outside helps me keep chilled. Everyone around me knows to keep their cool and when everyone is chilled about it, it is easy for me to do."
Not only did Kate keep he composure in the arena but she also managed to sing the Irish National Anthem on the podium after collecting her gold medal.
“I did it before, I did it three years ago at the Pony European Championships in Hungary when Harry Allen won gold and I won bronze so this is the second time doing it on the European circuit.” she said.
Irish Youth Show Jumping team manager James Kernan could not speak highly enough of Kate afterwards and said: “I am just delighted for Kate, her family and all her team. She was just so focused here all week and this result didn’t happen by accident.
"She didn’t jump her horse too much this year in preparation for the championships and all she had in her mind this week was to help the team win a medal and then to win individual gold herself. Full marks to her and she is certainly someone any young rider should look up to.”
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy said: “Huge congratulations to our new European Champion Kate Derwin on a fantastic performance to win individual gold at these European Championships and to all our riders who have performed brilliantly on the big stage.
"These results would not be possible without the huge support that the Horse Sport Ireland High Performance Program receives from our sponsors, team managers, trainers and from all of the parents involved and I want to thank them all on this fantastic occasion.
"This is also another boost for Irish breeding with the gold medal going to an Irish Sport Horse.”
AHG Whiterock Cruise Down (ISH) – 2009 stallion by Cruisings Mickey Finn (ISH)[TIH] by Whiterock Touch (ISH) by Touchdown (ISH). Breeder: Ann Fannon Clancy, Co. Longford. Owner: Francis Derwin. Rider: Kate Derwin (IRL).