Offaly's Darragh Kenny completed a remarkable weekend for Irish show jumping in the United States with victory in the four-star $216,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida on Sunday night.
Kenny was one of just five riders who made it into the jump-off, as many of the 50 starters struggled to negotiate the demanding first round course.
The result was Kenny’s second win in the last fortnight with the Sergio Alvarez Moya-owned Red Star D’Argent, an 11-year-old stallion who only arrived in his stable after Christmas.
The Irish rider was third to go against the clock and he produced a breathtaking round to stop the time a full two seconds faster than runner-up Roberto Teran from Colombia.
Kenny’s round pushed the two remaining riders to the limit, including British Olympic Gold medallist Ben Maher, who had to settle for fourth after finishing with four faults.
Kenny also collected the Niall Grimes Memorial Trophy as the leading Irish prize-winner of the weekend in Wellington, while the Irish Sport Horse Limestone Grey added to his growing reputation with a 12th place finish in the Grand Prix class with Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca.
Ireland’s underage riders had earlier scored a hat-trick of podium finishes in Grand Prix classes at the Palm Beach arena, while on Friday, Ireland claimed a superb Nations Cup win, forcing the home team from America into second place.
Speaking afterwards from Florida, Irish Team Manager Robert Splaine said: “This has been a simply outstanding weekend, crowned by Darragh Kenny’s victory.
“To win at this level is always difficult but to win the two biggest classes on offer here in Florida is just incredible – and testament to the talent we have in Ireland.
“It was also fantastic to see our Irish Children On Horses, Juniors and Young Riders standing on the podium after almost every class here this weekend and they have been wonderful ambassadors for our country.
“I would like to thank all the owners of our horses without whom this incredible weekend would not be possible.”