Monday 19 March 2018

Promising start as home side proves untouchable in the Speed Stakes

Louise Parkes

Ireland got off to a great start at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show at the RDS yesterday, claiming the top two places in the Speed Stakes, third in the Failte Stakes and a strong fifth-place finish in the big class of the day, the Irish Sports Council Classic.

Laura Kraut recorded the first of two American victories with Dona Evita, pinning Britain's Robert Smith back into runner-up spot by more than two seconds in the Failte Stakes. Ireland's Capt David O'Brien and Drumiller Lough came third.

But the home side proved untouchable in the Speed Stakes, Conor Swail setting the target in the field of 34 starters, only to be beaten by the penultimate competitor, Corkman Billy Twomey. Swail's 13-year-old gelding Coulthard raced through the timers in 60.22 seconds, but Twomey's stallion Cavinem was more than two seconds quicker.

The US flag was hoisted aloft once again when speed specialist Floridian Lauren Hough (34) headed the line-up in the Sports Council classic. But rising Irish star Nicola FitzGibbon (23) was the one to set the pace here with a great round from her 14-year-old gelding Puissance.

Her jump-off clear in 44.91 seconds was good enough for fifth place and the best of the Irish in a field of champions.

The Kildare rider has been named in the Irish squad for tomorrow's Aga Khan Cup.

She said: "I've got the most amazing horse ever. There's not one time I've jumped him that I haven't appreciated how great he is."

Nicola added: "To get on a Nations Cup team is a big achievement for any rider, but to compete in the Aga Khan Cup would be such an honour."

Irish Independent

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