Darragh Kenny and the McCahill’s 8 year old mare, Chanel, win the $35,000 1.45m during the 4* week 11 of the Winter Equestrian Festival here in Florida. This exciting mare just keeps getting better and better. Next she goes to the Miami Global Champions Tour and then onto Europe with the rest of the Oakland Ventures team.
Week eight of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded on Sunday, March 6, with a win for Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Red Star d’Argent in the $216,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSIO 4*. Riders representing five different countries qualified for the jump-off, with Kenny leading the way for Ireland over Colombia’s Roberto Teran Jr. and Woklahoma in second, and Australia’s Matt Williams aboard Valinski S in third.
USA’s Steve Stephens and Ken Krome were the course designers in the International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) for CSIO week at WEF. In their final competition of the week, Stephens and Krome saw 50 entries in the Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix, with five riders qualifying for the jump-off.
Matt Williams and Wyndmont’s Valinski S were first to qualify, and first to return for the short course, completing the track without fault in the third place time of 45.79 seconds. Roberto Teran, Jr. was next to jump-off aboard Ark Partners’ Woklahoma, with another clear round and a faster time of 44.89 to finish second. Next in the ring, Darragh Kenny and Red Star d’Argent clocked the winning time of 42.83 seconds. Hardin Towell (USA) and Jennifer Gates’ Emilie de Diamant AS had one rail down in 46.84 seconds to finish fifth. Last to go, Ben Maher (GBR) and Jane Clark’s Sarena also dropped a rail, but finished in a faster time of 44.43 seconds to place fourth.
Kenny had the opportunity to watch Williams complete his jump-off round before he entered the ring, and had an idea of what he needed to do to get the win.
“I watched Matt go, and Matt’s horse was amazing and he had a super round,” Kenny stated. “I felt that I just wanted to go as fast as I felt comfortable. I know the horse is very fast. I know I did one less stride after the black skinny, and I just had a feeling where I was and that I was up a little bit (on the time). I did not realize I was going as fast as I was, but it ended up being great.”
“He is just a great horse; it does not matter you do with him,” Kenny continued. “You can go fast, slow, deep, long and he just wants to jump the jumps, and that is what a great horse does. He has been stepping up every time. I did not know what he was going to do today. He was very good week six, and I gave him week seven light, and I knew my plan was to gradually build him up towards this grand prix. Right now my plans are working.”
Red Star d’Argent’s groom, Nickki O’Donovan, accepted the Groom’s Initiative Award presented by Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, to reward her dedication and hard work as an integral member of the winning team.
Kenny was also presented the Niall Grimes “Cheers” Perpetual Trophy, which is presented each year to the top Irish rider during the CSIO Nations’ Cup week.
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