IRELAND's Olympic Show Jumping athlete Greg Broderick had the perfect send-off before he travels to Rio tomorrow (Saturday), when he scored a stunning victory in the Underwriting Exchange Limited Grand Prix at Jumping in the City in Shelbourne Park, Dublin.
A huge crowd packed into Shelbourne Park for a night of sport and entertainment, with a carnival atmosphere to celebrate the start of the Olympic Games in Rio where Ireland is represented by seven athletes.
Broderick, who boards a flight to Rio on Saturday, was one of seven riders who made it through to the second round jump-off with John Carr's 11-year-old chestnut stallion Zuidam. A brilliant second clear round in 40.07 seconds saw him claim the majority of the €15,000 prize fund on offer.
Cavan's Neal Fearon had posted the early target (43.46) when first to go against the clock with Billy On Time and eventually finished in third overall. Kilkenny-born former Olympian Marion Hughes came closest to catching Broderick, she crossed the line clear in 40.38 seconds with Can Ya Makan to claim runner-up spot on the podium.
The Devenish Puissance saw Co. Tyrone's Peter Smyth and the Irish Sport Horse Cavalier Rusticana grab the winners prize, when they were the only combination to clear the wall at its final height of 1m97 (6ft 5 inches). Smyth and Cavalier Rusticana came to Jumping in the City on the back of a third place finish in the Dublin Horse Show Puissance at the RDS. Wexford's Jason Higgins finished as runner-up with Hadine Van't Zorgvliet.
The opening competition at Jumping in the City saw Dubliner Paul Carroll score a victory for the home crowd in the West Wood/Ifor Williams Amateur Speed Class. Carroll raced around the arena when fourth-last to go aboard Castleroche Le Roche, to post what proved an unbeatable clear round. Carroll drove away with a stunning brand-new West Wood/Ifor Williams Horsebox as his winners prize.
Last year's Jumping in the City amateur winner Joanna Penfold again finished in the prizes, taking runner-up spot with her Irish Sport Horse King Cruise, while Grace Lavery took third spot on the podium with the Irish Sport Horse Flagmount Heir.
Meanwhile at the five-star show at Valkenswaard in The Netherlands, Denis Lynch took runner-up spot in the feature 1m55 jump-off class. Lynch and his Aga Khan mount All Star 5 finished just over a second behind German winner Daniel Deusser riding Happiness van T Paradijs, while Bertram Allen finished 10th with the stallion Hector van d'Abdijhoeve.
Ireland's eventing team begin their Olympic campaign in Rio on Saturday at 2pm with the opening dressage phase. The cross country phase takes place on Monday before the Olympic eventing individual and team medals are decided on Tuesday.
Judy Reynolds will fly the flag for Ireland in the Olympic dressage competition starting on Wednesday with her horse Vancouver K, while Greg Broderick begins his Olympic quest with the Irish Sport Horse MHS Going Global next Sunday August 14th. Helen Kearney will represent Ireland at September's Paralympics with her horse Rock And Roll 2.