WEF: Irish Darragh Kenny Rides to Victory
Darragh Kenny jumped to victory with brand new mount Gasper van den Doorn in Thursday’s $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 10 at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) set the course for Thursday’s Challenge Cup, with 78 starters and 21 clear rounds. Four entries opted not to jump-off, leaving 17 to continue on to the short course. Kenny and Vlock Show Stables’ Gasper van den Doorn jumped the fastest of eight double clear rounds in 38.13 seconds.
Marilyn Little (USA) and Karen O’Connor’s Clearwater finished second in 40.05 seconds. Jimmy Torano (USA) placed third with Missy Clark and North Run’s Betagravin in 40.14 seconds. Stephanie Macieira (BRA) and Bonne Chance Farm’s Randon Pleasure placed fourth in 41.26 seconds, and Eve Jobs (USA) riding Tiny Toon Semilly rounded out the top five in 41.65 seconds.
“I did a turn that nobody else did in the class,” Kenny said of his winning jump-off. “I watched a few people go, and I kept looking when I was in the warm-up ring. I was like, ‘I think that turn is there.’ Then I went in the ring and I saw it. He is such a nice horse that I know he is never going to stop or do anything wrong, so it was only up to me to get the right distance. Then I did everything that everybody else did. I think that turn was where I won the class.”
Kenny, who just began riding Gasper van den Doorn two weeks ago, has a gift for quickly forming winning partnerships with his horses. Kenny’s student, Teddy Vlock, purchased the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Calvaro x Larome) from 2008 Canadian Olympic team silver medalist Mac Cone, and plans to ride the horse in the future. Gasper was both the 2015 and 2016 Canadian Show Jumping Reserve Champion with Cone.
“I was just playing about with him for a couple of weeks just trying to get to know him a little bit for Teddy,” Kenny noted. “I am now very lucky that Teddy has agreed to let me show him for a few more weeks because I am a little bit short of a grand prix horse.
“Today he was really excellent,” Kenny continued. “I have only jumped him 1.40m before this, but he jumped big classes with Mac Cone before. He jumped clear in World Cup qualifiers at Deeridge and Toronto. He is a really exceptional horse.”
Detailing the horse further, Kenny stated, “He is really fun and super competitive. He is very easy. He is like the perfect horse. He is beautiful to ride, he has this amazing canter, and his jumps are fantastic. He is a really cool horse.”
Kenny and Gasper van den Doorn can be seen back in action together in Saturday night’s $130,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3*.
Also competing in the International Arena on Wednesday, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and Daisy won the $8,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m.