Equestrian: Lennon on song to earn fifth place in World Cup
Dermott Lennon produced a stunning double-clear performance yesterday from Hallmark Elite to rocket up from overnight 14th to finish fifth in the Rolex FEI World Cup final in Geneva yesterday, where German Marcus Ehning claimed the title for the third time in his career.
The quiet-spoken Banbridge man has been somewhat out of the spotlight since winning the World Championship title back in 2002 with his great mare Liscalgot. But Lennon has been nurturing the talent of Woods Rosbotham's 10-year-old gelding, and yesterday showed he is ready to return to the sharp end of the sport now that he has found the horse who can take him there.
He had a lot of ground to make up going into yesterday's competition as he was 10 points behind the leading American Mario Deslauriers, who was chasing the dream of becoming champion again 26 years after he first claimed the title in 1984. And it seemed the dream might become a reality when the 45-year-old rider joined three others, including Lennon, to find the key to yesterday's first-round track.
Ireland's 22-year-old rookie Darragh Kenny also squeezed into the closing stages when America's McLain Ward, leader after the first two legs on Thursday and Friday, was sensationally removed from the start-list after his mare, Sapphire, was deemed to be "hypersensitised" during Friday night's competition.
The international governing body, the FEI, issued a statement early on Saturday which said that Sapphire had been selected for thermography testing on its legs on Friday evening when the FEI veterinarian noted "sensitivity in its left foreleg" but deemed it fit to compete. A second test, however, deemed her "unfit to take any further part in the competition", and on Saturday the United States Equestrian Federation team vet Dr Tim Ober insisted that decision was "incorrect".
The drama continued yesterday with a late appeal to the FEI Tribunal, the legal arm of the FEI, which said it was not within its jurisdiction to change the decision. Ward was previously banned 10 years ago following the discovery of plastic chips in his horse's boots while in competition.
Kenny picked up 21 faults in yesterday's first round with Obelix but Lennon's gelding was fault-free in both rounds.