Equestrian: Twomey maintains world-class form
BILLY Twomey's star just keeps on rising and the Corkman completed a great weekend at the stylish 5-Star Gucci Masters fixture in Paris yesterday with fifth place on Tinka's Serenade in the €300,000 Grand Prix.
And underlining the competitiveness of Irish show jumpers, Cameron Hanley continued his return to form when steering VDL Southwind into fourth in the Grand Prix at the 4-Star fixture in Salzburg, Austria.
Twomey, who last week broke into the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in his career, kicked off the French fixture with a third-place finish, riding Tinka's Serenade on Friday. And the mare he owns along with Sue Davies, and with which he finished 11th in the individual championship at the World Equestrian Games in October, was on the button again yesterday when qualifying for the Grand Prix jump-off.
The Irishman was first to go against the clock, however, and although he left all the fences standing again, those who followed had the opportunity to watch and choose a quicker route. And it was Germany's Marco Kutscher and Cash, last of the 11 to make the cut, who scooped the €75,000 winner's purse when pipping compatriot Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet.
Denis Lynch missed out on the jump-off with a single error from Abbervail van het Dingeshof, while Jessica Kuerten's two first-round fences down with Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois kept her out of the prizes.
Twomey was rewarded with €24,000 for his fifth-place effort. Ireland now has two riders in the world top 10, and three in the top 15 -- Twomey is ninth while Lynch lies seventh and Kuerten 14th.
Meanwhile, Hanley made the perfect start in Salzburg when steering the former Cian O'Connor ride Complete into pole position in Thursday's feature 1.50m Speed event.
Hanley was one of just five to qualify for yesterday's Grand Prix jump-off but missed out on the top prize of a Mercedes when just over four seconds slower than winner Steve Guerdat riding Ferrari.
In the Dressage arena at Salzburg, Kildare-born Anna Merveldt and Coryolano placed second in the Grand Prix Special.
And at Hengelo in Holland, Irish pony and junior riders were on the mark. Conor Drain took first with Fabels and third with Wajax in the Junior Jump-Off and was second with Wajax in the Two-Phase. Bertram Allen won the Pony Jump-Off with Cassandra van het Roelhof.