A BIG number of Irish riders flocked to the autumn equestrian tour in Vilamoura, Portugal, which ended last Sunday with multiple placings for riders in green.

Derry’s David Simpson scored a three-star win last Friday aboard his own eight-year-old mare Balloon Cruise. The British-bred mare is by Balloon out of Cruise With Me (Cruising), the horse who Simpson began his professional career on and jumped up to 1.60m level with.

The pair were the fastest of 17 clear rounds to win in 55.49 seconds, ahead of Britain’s Charlene Bastone with Halina HL (0/ 56.53). Ireland’s Orla Cassidy finished sixth with her own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse Bridgemans Olympic Star, by Harlequin du Carel, who was bred by Sean Cahalan.

Mikey Pender was runner-up in Thursday’s 1.40m two-phase aboard Marion Hughes’ home-bred 10-year-old mare HHS Fortune (Catoki x Douglas). From a huge class of 92 starters, 45 produced double clear rounds and Pender’s time of 33.15 was just beaten by Belgium’s Thierry Goffinet and Funny Girl (0/0 32.94).

England-based Tipperary show jumper Trevor Breen scored a runner-up place in Saturday’s three-star 1.45m jump-off. He rode mandy Hall’s 10-year-old mare Germaine W to one of six clear against the clock, in a time of 39.65 seconds. Young rider Jack Ryan slotted into fourth place with Cuick Star Kervec, a nine-year-old stallion owned by Breen Equestrian Ltd and Quirke Sport Horses Ltd, in 43.64. Victory in the class went to Denmark’s Andreas Schou and Quadrosson ASK (0/0 38.27).

Francis Derwin Jnr was also in good form at the venue, finishing third twice. The first result came on his father Francis’ AHG Whiterock Cruise Down (Cruisings Mickey Finn x Touchdown), bred by Anne Clancy, in a 1.45m two-phase class. They were clear in 27.84 to earn €3,800. Jessica Burke finished seventh with African Affair, while Sean Monaghan was ninth with Daisy’s Duggan’s Mermus R-sired eight-year-old EMS Adelaide.

Derwin was third later on the same day in the 1.40m with his uncle Jim Derwin’s Deep Pockets (OBOS Quality x Cruising) when clear in 61.53 seconds.