Equestrian: Podium finish in qualifier edges Lennon closer to World Cup final
DERMOTT Lennon took a step closer to the 2011/2012 Rolex FEI World Cup final when finishing third with Hallmark Elite in yesterday's super-competitive qualifier at Olympia in London, won by Britain's Ben Maher and Tripple X.
From a field of 34 starters, the man from Banbridge in Co Down was one of 11 to make the cut into the second-round jump-off, and was first to produce a double-clear performance. It was a tactical ride, designed to keep him in the frame without taking too many risks.
The track tempted riders down to a big oxer before turning tight to a double at the midway stage, and Lennon cruised home in 42.43 seconds to set the early target.
Triple World Cup champion Marcus Ehning was more than two seconds faster when re-setting the parameters with the mare Sabrina in 39.05 seconds, however, and that looked about as quick as it would get with five left.
Yet Maher was extra-hungry for the win after a roller-coaster year and, setting off second from last with his home-bred stallion, he crushed the German's lead with a super turn to the double that saw him break the beam in 38.71 seconds.
Lennon has now moved into 11th place on the series leaderboard and needs about 12 more points to earn a final place.
Billy Twomey and Tinka's Serenade missed yesterday's jump-off with a mistake in the opening round. The Grand Prix takes place at the London fixture today.
Details in Factfile