Plenty to cheer in thrilling Horse Show finale
But another dashing 'Italian job' scuppers home team's dreams
Published 25/07/2016 | 02:30
Ireland suffered another late disappointment on the final day of the Dublin Horse Show, after narrowly losing out in yesterday's feature competition.
Team Italy claimed another major victory in the RDS Main Arena as Lorenzo De Luca raced ahead to claim the Longines International Grand Prix.
The success came after the Italians soared ahead to snatch the Aga Khan on Friday, and a string of victories for Lorenzo over the week.
Hot on his heels was Irishman Shane Breen, a fraction of a second slower than his rival in a gripping jump-off.
In addition to the Grand Prix, Lorenzo was also presented with the Leading Rider Award.
He now has a €200,000 prize, the Grand Prix cup and two Longines watches to take home.
Seemingly surprised at his haul of a trophy and timepieces, he joked with reporters: "I won't be late."
Asked if he expected to get first place, he said: "Definitely not. I said if I rode well [on Friday] I would also have the chance to do something good in the Grand Prix," he said. "But I never actually thought I would win."
Runner-up Shane Breen praised Lorenzo's "incredible week", and added that he was "delighted" with his own horse's performance.
The RDS stands were packed to the brim for both yesterday's Grand Prix and Saturday's Puissance, where the commentary turned a little political.
As Mexican rider Alberto Michan tackled the Puissance hurdles with panache, commentator Brendan McArdle quipped: "If Trump ever builds that wall, you'll break right through it."
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Brendan said several strangers had approached him to compliment his quick-witted remark.
"The Trump remark certainly got a lot of people going," he said, adding that the commentary had since made an impression on social media.
"Even the American team came up to me and said 'that was the comment of the week'," he added.
Attending the final day of the show were Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor, as well as Newstalk's George Hook and his wife, Ingrid.
Jessica Springsteen was soaking up all the action, and while her rock star dad Bruce failed to reappear in the stands on the final day, another proud father was watching from the sidelines.
Liam O'Leary, from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was helping his son Aodán tack up for the Pony Club Games final earlier in the day.
Aodán (15), who has been competing since early childhood, has already performed well at shows in Ireland and overseas - notably at the Royal Windsor Horse Show earlier in May.
Aodán's older brother Ciarán is also a member of Ireland's World Under-17 team, who were named the Reserve World Champions earlier in the year.
While Aódan is passionate about all things equestrian, his father Liam says his focus next year will be on completing his Junior Cert.