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Thursday 8 December 2016

Setting the global standard

Whitewash at Fontainebleu pony weekend proves Ireland are the team to beat as talented youngsters show their opponents how it is done

Published 26/04/2011 | 05:00

The Irish team's outstanding success in France included fine performances from Emma O'Dwyer
The Irish team's outstanding success in France included fine performances from Emma O'Dwyer
Bertram Allen won the Grand Prix at Moorsele in Belgium

Ireland's pony riders recorded a total whitewash of the Nations' Cup at Fontainebleu in France recently by winning the Nations' Cup itself, two Grand Prix and numerous other wins and places during the three-day competition.

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The Irish squad got off to the best start possible when Thomas Foley took the first class of the day with 'Crown Jewel', while Shane Dalon, Roisin Kenny and Eoin McMahon also placed in the top 10.

The Irish dominance continued throughout the day, with two more first places and a collection of top-10 finishes.

Graham Golden and 'Tequila Twist' took victory in the CSIP Prix Marline, with Charlotte Donoghue not far behind in the runner-up spot with 'The Freckle'. She also took fourth on 'Arganium Boy'.

Cara Mooney followed a short time later with a first place in the six-year-old two-phase competition, riding 'Don't Crumb It'. Ireland had a total of five top-10 places in this class, with Noelle Barry, Aoife McDonagh, Emma O'Dwyer and Sophie Mills also featuring.

Not long after, Foley claimed a third place in the seven-year-old competition on 'Doon Laddie', while Eoin McMahon was sixth with 'Lady Capulet'.

Foley again made the top 10 in the speed class with 'Dibidoe', while, in the last competition of the day, Michael Duffy was best of the Irish in fourth place with 'Kadia Mouche'. Darragh Ryan, Matt Garrigan and Clare Redmond also recorded top-10 places in this class.

The excellent results on Friday meant confidence in the Irish camp was high going into Saturday's competition. The Irish riders proved that this confidence was fully justified by racking up three early wins. Paraic Kenny claimed the Derby trophy on 'Castle Hill Clover', while Graham Golden took the BMW trophy in the speed class with 'Tequila Twist' and Foley snatched victory in the CSIOP speed class with 'Crown Jewel'.

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However, there was more to come, with Foley, McMahon, Roisin Kenny and O'Dwyer determined to defend Ireland's first place in the Nations' Cup after their victory in the competition last year.

Jump-off

Leading at the halfway mark on eight faults, the Irish were on a 20-fault equal score with Switzerland at the end of the competition, but a thrilling jump-off saw Ireland's quartet take the gold medal with a fence in hand. Switzerland had to settle for silver, while France claimed the bronze medal on 27 faults.

Foley and 'Dibidoe' faulted once in each of the three rounds, while McMahon with 'Homeflight II' went clear in the first round, faulted twice in the second but produced a vital clear in the jump-off.

Roisin Kenny and the Irish-bred 'Blessington Grange Mist' had a discard score in the first two rounds, but went clear in the third, while O'Dwyer and another Irish-bred pony, 'Jacknell Street', had four faults first time out, but then produced a zero score in the subsequent two rounds.

Not content with taking the biggest prize of the weekend, the Irish riders continued their whitewash of the French venue on Sunday with two Grand Prix wins and two further competition victories.

In the CSIOP Grand Prix, 16-year-old O'Dwyer claimed the trophy with 'Jacknell Street', finishing just half a second ahead of Foley on 'Dibidoe'. McMahon confirmed Ireland's overwhelming dominance in this competition by taking third place on 'Homeflight II'.

A short time later in the CSIP Grand Prix, Matt Garrigan took the honours for Ireland with 'Dr Spot', just over a second clear of French challenger Ines Joly and 'Jamaique'. Four other Irish riders also made it into the CSIP Grand Prix top 10.

Winner

Foley later won the two-phase class with 'Crown Jewel', while Golden was the accumulator-class winner on 'Tequila Twist'.

Ireland's outstanding success at Fontainebleu took place just a week after out current European pony gold medallist, Bertram Allen, took victory in the Grand Prix at Moorsele in Belgium, riding the bay mare 'Cassandra vh Roelhof'.

Wexford-based Allen beat Britain's Amy Inglis to the trophy, making amends for the previous week's result in Barbizon, France, when the British girl won the Pony Grand Prix and the Irish rider had to settle for third.

Allen, who is 15, recorded the only double-clear score of the competition, while fellow Irish competitor Max O'Reilly-Hyland faulted once in the jump-off to take fourth place on the 10-year-old gelding 'Rock Dee Jay'.

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