Ireland’s Marion Hughes, who is now based in Dubai, finished second against all the odds in a nail biting FEI World Cup qualifier in China today.
After her Chinese horse was declared lame just before the Red Mills sponsored event, fellow rider Miguel Bravo, who was unable to compete, generously offered Hughes his own horse to ride instead.
Competing ninth in a field of 14 international riders, Hughes, who had never ridden the horse before, steered him to a magnificent clear round to tumultuous applause from the Chinese spectators.
This was the third leg of the Red Mills Chinese FEI World Cup qualifiers and was hosted in a brand new €20m stadium by the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province.
Irish Olympian Cian O’Connor also won for Ireland in an earlier leg of the competition in Beijing, underlining the dominance of Irish equestrian sport in the emerging Chinese industry.
Victory for O’Connor was all the sweeter as the horse was trained by China-based Galway man Austin Melia, manager of China’s premier Equestrian Club, BIEC, and coach to the junior Chinese equestrian team.