THE backdrop of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty at the Longines Global Championship Tour of New York will simply never get old. For the riders who travel on the tour, the New York leg, held on the 172-acre Governor Island which is just 800 yards from Manhattan, is always the most jaw dropping.

There was plenty of Irish interest last week and both Eoin McMahon and Shane Breen scored five-star wins while Shane Sweetnam qualified for the GCT Super Grand Prix in Prague when fourth in Saturday night’s Grand Prix.

Topping the first CSI5* class of the week was Co Clare’s Eoin McMahon on Chacon, a 16-year-old Chacco-Blue gelding who is owned by Madeleine Winter-Schulze. The pair sped to the win in 25.84 seconds in the 1.45m to-phase competition, fastest of 12 double clears.

“There were some spooky fences on the course today, but my horse handled it very well,” said McMahon. “It’s a big week for my team, the Berlin Eagles, so to get this win today really starts us off on the right foot.”

Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher and Cous Cous took up the second spot in 26.48 seconds, while Tipperary’s Shane Breen was third with Haya, his own and Old Lodge’s 10-year-old KWPN mare by Mylord Cathargo, close behind in 26.65 seconds. Darragh Kenny slotted into fourth place with Vlock Show Stables’ nine-year-old stallion Chic Chic (0/0 26.80).

Breen win

Shane Breen and Haya went even better on Sunday when they won the five-star 1.45m Table A. They were the only pair to break the 60-second mark when clear in 59.78, just edging out Kenny who finished second with Chic Chic in 60.33.

Breen commented: “Haya was fantastic in there. She’s been wonderful all season. We’ve many times been the bridesmaid, so today she was the bride and I’m thrilled. The plan is to build her up for the Grand Prix, and step by step, we’re getting there. Next year she’s going to be a big name for me.”

While Breen had a plan for his course, he did make one adjustment. “I saw that they were doing seven strides quite easy to the last jump, so I thought if I kept up on the left hand side, I could do six strides,” he explained. “I chanced it, and it came off for me. I think that’s where I clinched it.”

Sweetnam secures golden ticket

Leading the victory gallop in the city that never sleep with a spectacular win in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of New York was Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z. It was a nail-biting jump-off of just four top combinations, and they all finished within 0.44 seconds of each other.

Under the watchful eye of the Statue of Liberty, Daniel Deusser was last to go in the jump-off, securing victory with a time of 41.07 seconds and the top prize of €100,000. Thrilling the full-capacity crowd, they nipped the win away from Pieter Devos and the flashy Mom’s Toupie de la Roque (0/0 41.15), whose second place has added himself to be in contention for the overall season championship title.

Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana were third in 41.45, while Cork’s Shane Sweetnam finished in a time of 41.51 to take fourth place with the 13-year-old gelding Alejandro.

As the only rider in the jump-off to not have already qualified for the LGCT Super Grand Prix in Prague, Sweetnam and Alejandro secured their golden ticket to the € 1.25 million showdown. “This is Alejandro’s second time qualifying for LGCT Super Grand Prix so that shows what a great horse he is. He was close in Miami so I thought I had a chance of winning today. I am very excited to have qualified and very excited about today’s result,” Sweetnam commented.

Britain’s Ben Maher could have made history and wrapped up the 2022 championship if he had repeated his LGCT Grand Prix of New York win like in 2019 the British Champion would have won the 2022 season Championship. But, riding Faltic HB, he finished with four faults in 70.97 seconds for sixth place, which does mean he heads into the final in Riyadh in first place in the overall standings on 250 point, but Devos is now close behind him on 244.