Patrick Whelan

EVENTER Patrick Whelan had an amazing month in May. After winning the Stepping Stones to Success Novice Thoroughbred league and the William Codd Perpetual Trophy on Galileo’s Secret, Whelan went on to win the Eventing Ireland 115 Restricted class at Hillcrest on Mary Rose Cooney’s home-bred nine-year-old gelding, Gone West. Whelan came third in the EI115 class at Lisgarvan riding seven-year-old gelding, MBF Silver Bridge and placed fourth at Kilguilkey House in the EI120 class on board his own Ikoon Lan DHI.

Showing great versatility, Whelan then competed in the Gain Alltech 1.40m Grand Prix at Wexford Equestrian riding 11-year-old gelding Ikoon Lan DHI. In a class where eventers secured the top three places, a delighted Whelan took the win: “It was great to get a win here in Wexford Equestrian, as it is my local venue and they always do a great job. The horse’s main discipline is eventing and we have been on Nations Cup teams, but he is also very good over coloured poles. He is very brave and stepped up for the challenge today… I think it’s great to see eventers in the top line-up, as we see more and more event horses jumping successfully at this level.”

Lucy Latta

BADMINTON Horse Trials 2024 saw Wexford’s Lucy Latta achieve one of the greatest ever results in Irish eventing, when she rode 13-year-old gelding RCA Patron Saint into second place at the prestigious event. At her first ever five-star, Latta produced the fastest cross-country time of the day, which meant she climbed a massive 43 places after the dressage phase up to third place.

The show jumping was tough and saw very few clear rounds; two fences down still saw Latta climb another place to take the runner-up spot. Speaking of her incredible cross-country round, Latta said: “He (RCA Patron Saint) is truly one of the great cross-country horses out there... He was just unbelievable.”

Latta works full-time as a brand manager, but had certainly put the work into getting to Badminton. She qualified in Blair, after finishing fourth, over a testing track that was big, as well as hilly and soft. She then travelled to England twice, finishing third in Oasby, training with Caroline Moore for a week and then returning to do the four-star short at Burnham.

Latta said after Badminton: “There’s no horse I’d rather be on – Saturday was the best cross-country round of my life.”

Paul O’Shea

LIMERICK’S Paul O’Shea has had great success in the United States during the past month, including taking the top spot in the $125,000 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show in New York, for the second consecutive year, riding Imerald Van’t Voorhof.

Out of 33 entries, only seven jumped clear over Alan Wade’s 1.50m track to get through to the jump-off. O’Shea was second last to jump and left all the fences standing in a time that could not be beaten.

“We just gave it everything we had,” O’Shea said afterwards. “I wasn’t able to watch any of the other riders go, so we just had to stick to our plan, which was to give it everything we could. Imerald was fantastic.”

O’Shea then moved on to Tryon International in North Carolina, where he rode Hellcat to win the $65,000 two-star 1.45m Grand Prix. O’Shea was among 11 of the 40 starters to jump clear in the first round and was fastest in the jump-off (33.94).

O’Shea has also accumulated numerous other wins and placings across these shows with his other horses, including Spy, Squirt Gun, Ouija and Primo CBI Cornet.

Shane Sweetnam

CORK’S Shane Sweetnam continues to add to his Grand Prix tally, with another win in recent weeks on board the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz in the $125,000 CSI3* Grand Prix at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show in the USA.

From the start list of 28, 12 made it through to the jump-off, where Sweetnam and his reliable partner, bred in Galway by Patrick Connolly, clocked the fastest of the clear rounds, by riding some inside lines and claimed the top prize of $31,250.

After his win, Sweetnam noted: “He’s very talented – he can be a little bit spirited, but I don’t mind that.”

Sweetnam said of his mount: “I like that he really understands his job, so if I can keep him in the right place, then he’ll do the rest. From the start, we’ve been a good match, so hopefully we can stay that way!”

Sweetnam and James Kann Cruz were then chosen to be on the Irish team for the Nations Cup in Rome, where the team secured an impressive runner-up finish. This was partly due to Sweetnam riding a brilliant double clear on James Kann Cruz to assist Ireland to their final score of four faults.