FOLLOWING a successful trip in the five-star Global Champions Tour in Mexico, where he was on the podium with the St Tropez Pirates, Kildare’s Mikey Pender returned home to land the spoils in the Coolmore/Showjumping Ireland 1.50m Premier Series last Sunday in Barnadown, Co Wexford.
Riding the Bravo Hughes Ltd-owned and home-bred eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare HHS Los Angeles, he took home the winner’s share (€4,500) of the €15,000 on offer when best of four double clears.
Speaking after the class, Pender said: “Los Angeles is only an eight-year-old mare and she jumped fantastic. I feel that she deserved the win today. She is from the same mother as HHS Burnchurch (1.60m) and HHS Fast Forward (1.60m), so a big well done to everyone at home doing the breeding. It’s a great day for the whole yard.
“She is quite green, she was doing a lot of embryos last year and the year before, so this year she is concentrating a lot more on jumping and I am delighted to have the ride today.”
Regarding the jump-off, he added: “I was second to go. There was a good field of seven riders for the jump-off and I didn’t know what to expect. She is only eight and I have not gone that many times against the clock, but she took to it very good.
“I had quite a good turn back to fence two. She has a big stride, so I let her open up to the water tray. I was a little bit deep to the next over but she jumped it unbelievable, she tried her best. I did the seven strides quite nice to the double. I didn’t take too much of a risk to the second last and she jumped it very well. With her quality and how good she is, I could really let her gallop to the last and trust her to jump it.
“Los Angeles’ next show will probably be in Hamburg for the seven and eight-year-old classes, it will be brilliant mileage for her. I am going there for the Global Tour. Hopefully she can progress even more from today and take the next step. I think she is very very exciting for next year.”
Bred by Marion Hughes, Los Angeles is by Le Roi out of Cavalier Royale-sired China Cavalier. She already had international outings in Vilamoura and Vejer de la Frontera earlier in the year with Pender.
From the 41 combinations who started over the John Doyle-designed course, seven were clear in the first round, while Comdt Geoff Curran picked up a single time fault with Kilrue for the second week in-a-row.
The track was up to height and featured technical lines. Against the clock, riders had to negotiate a number of sharp turns if they wanted to win.
First to go in the jump-off was young rider Niamh McEvoy who wasn’t fazed by the challenge as she took it on with Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick. She kept up a good pace throughout and a good turn back to the penultimate oxer followed by 11 strides down to the final fence saw her set the standard in a time of 43.17 seconds.
Owned by Robin Bingham, the 12-year-old mare is by Limerick out of the Lux Z-sired Go Lucky. The combination is proving to be one to watch and took fourth in the opening round at Portmore the previous week.
However, she was quickly knocked from the top of the leaderboard when Pender was next to go with HHS Los Angeles. Pender took similar tight turns, but made up the pace in the approach to the third oxer and did 10 strides to the last. As a result he reduced the target to 40.76 seconds.
Out of luck
Defending National Champion and winner of the opening round (with BP Hybernia), Kevin Gallagher was looking to repeat the previous week’s performance. This time riding Ballypatrick Flamenco, he faulted going into the double and also knocked the front pole of the final fence to finish with eight faults in 41.74, good enough for sixth place.
Owned by GBBS Int Ltd and bred by Dr Noel Cawley, the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse is by Je T’Aime Flamenco and out of Cruise Leaf (Cruising).
Next up, Daren Hopkins and Numero Cruise proved out of luck with four fences down before deciding to retire. They did, however, put points on the board for seventh place.
There were anxious moments for leader Mikey Pender as American rider Charlotte Jacobs wasted no time with her own Edocenta. The pair have just returned to Ireland, where they are based at Greg Broderick’s Ballypatrick Stables in Thurles, following a winter at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.
They put in a great round to cross the finish line in 42.11 seconds, good enough for second place and getting their first points on the board. The 10-year-old mare is by Eldorado VD Zeshoek.
Jason Foley opted to take more cautious turn backs with Clyde Va and it paid off as he lodged a clear in 46.12 for eventual fourth place.
Owned by Castlefield Breeding Farm the 13-year-old stallion is by Caretino out of Valentina VA. This combination had international outings earlier in the season.
Jenny Rankin picked up four faults at the first part of the double with Vanessa Mannix’s Carmela Z. Their time of 45.86 saw them finish in fifth place. This pair have only recently returned from Arezzo, having clocked up some impressive results at three and four-star level.
Niamh McEvoy heads the overall leaderboard after the first two legs with 13 points, ahead of Kevin Gallagher and Mikey Pender who both have 10 points.
The third round of the Premier Series takes place on July 10th at Balmoral.