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Thursday 27 April 2017

Triple strike at World Breeding Junior Championships

Irish competitors won three medals at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships in Belgium

Ger O'Neill on his way to winning the gold medal on Killossery Kaiden. Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI
Ger O'Neill on his way to winning the gold medal on Killossery Kaiden. Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI
Mikey Pender celebrates his silver and bronze successes with gold medallist Willem Greve
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

Producing and selling young horses takes much time and patience, but it all paid off for Ger O'Neill at the recent FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships in Lanaken, Belgium as he lifted Ireland's third ever gold medal at these finals with the six-year-old Irish Sport Horse Killossery Kaiden.

This capped off a wonderful weekend as 16-year-old Mikey Pender also claimed silver and bronze in the year-younger equivalent with Z Seven Caretina and Z Seven Canya Dance.

Though previously involved with the production and sale of two former medallists at the venue - namely Ard Ginger Pop and Castlefield Denver - this was the first success in the saddle for O'Neill, who runs Castlefield Sport Horses from his base at Bennetsbridge in Co Kilkenny.

"I've been to Lanaken before and was there when Bertram (Allen) finished second on Castlefield Denver in 2013. He was co-owned by myself, Bertram and Neal Fearon. It was fantastic to finally get to lift a medal myself," he said.

Mikey Pender celebrates his silver and bronze successes with gold medallist Willem Greve
Mikey Pender celebrates his silver and bronze successes with gold medallist Willem Greve

On that occasion Ireland had won its second ever gold thanks to the five-year-old Arraghbeg Clover, ridden by Greg Broderick.

Both Ger O'Neill and Greg Broderick are hugely successful young horse producers in their own right, but also own several between them.

"Greg is a great friend and he was fantastic during the championships and really helped me a lot to prepare for the final, as did our team manager John Ledingham."

A total of 264 six-year-old horses from around the globe had started their quest for world championship glory, but just 40 made the cut for the final. At this stage just three remained to fly the Irish flag - O'Neill riding Killossery Kaiden, Broderick aboard Santa Catalina and Broderick's cousin and stable rider Darragh Ryan on Ballypatrick Flamenco.

Nine combinations managed to jump clear in the opening round and O'Neill produced the first double clear round when fourth last to go against the clock. A time of 47.85 proved unbeatable.

The silver medal went to Dutchman Julien de Boer riding the Dutch Warmblood Fernando V, with bronze to Thierry Goffinet on the Belgian Warmblood Kannabis van de Bucxtale.

"The horse deserved this win as he has been unlucky a few times this year," O'Neill commented.

Embryo transfer

"He had one down in the final at the RDS and also at the Irish Breeders' Classic, but he did win the 2016 Irish Sport Horse Studbook Show Jumping Series. He's really a fighter and it's been great having him for the past 18 months but the reality is that he is now for sale. He is co-owned by John Kearney and Hugh Martin from Wexford who trade as KM Sport Horses."

By Lux Z, Killossery Kaiden is one of over a dozen foals out of the Glynn family's Cruising mare Killossery Kruisette who was jumped to 1.60 metre level by former Army rider David O'Brien.

Many of those were born via embryo transfer, and Killossery Kaiden is one of four born in 2010. Greg Broderick campaigns Killossery Kuidam (by Luidam), while Nicola Fitzgibbon rides FTS Killossery Kusokurae, by SIEC Livello.

Just three weeks ago a filly foal by SIEC Livello out of the same mare went under the hammer at the Goresbridge Supreme Sale of Show Jumping Foals. O'Neill proved the lucky buyer when going to €18,000 for the promising prospect. "After Kaiden's win she is a cheap buy now," he laughed.

A few hours earlier young Mikey Pender from Castledermot had started the ball rolling for Ireland with silver and bronze in the five-year-old ­decider with the Hughes' ­home-bred pair of Z Seven Caretina (Coltaire Z) and Z Seven Canya Dance, by Can Ya Makan.

He took an early lead with Z Seven Canya Dance and then beat his own time on Z Seven Caretina, only to be pipped at the post by Willem Greve of Holland on Garant.

This was following the young rider's win in the consolation class for six-year-olds riding his own Curra Clover Flight.

A fifth-year day student at Knockbeg College on the Laois/Carlow border, Pender has been the talk of the circuit this year, in particular, and this was another string to his bow to add to his many accolades won in recent years.

"He has been jumping from a young age and has received great tuition over the years from Denis Flannelly," explained his mother Annemarie who was in Lanaken to join in on the celebrations along with Mikey's grandfather Michael Snr.

"He finished in ponies last year, but up to then he was on three pony teams at European level and won two team silvers. He also won the 148cms final at the RDS in 2014 on Doon Laddie."

"Last year he took a year out for transition and ended up with Marion Hughes who has given him the opportunity to ride horses for the Z Seven team. Hopefully he will now finish out school before forging a full-time career in show jumping," she added.

Commenting on the success of the Irish at Lanaken, team manager Commandant John Ledingham said: "It really is a brilliant result for an Irish horse and rider to win a gold medal at this world championship level.

"And for Mikey to win two medals is a fabulous performance. He has had an incredible season. This is a great achievement for the Hughes family and a brilliant result for Irish breeding."

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