independent

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Howley is the toast of Europe

Showjumping

Sligo continues to impress on the international sporting arena, with a showjumper from west Sligo winning a major championship in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Richard Howley from Dooneen Enniscrone won the U25s section at the European Showjumping Championship in Sweden last week.

A total of 20 competitors were taking part in the U25s section. Eight individuals made it into the jump off, but an outstanding performance from Richard riding Chinook was unbeatable.

Ireland's incredible performances at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg continued as Richard won the Lövsta Future Challenge International U25 competition.

One of only eight riders to make it to the jump off, Enniscrone's Richard partnered Chinook to the winning clear against the clock in 45:89 seconds to take the winner's prize of more than €6,000.

Sweden's Karin Martinsen and Irma Karlsson joined Richard on the podium.

There was little rest for the 24-year-old as he was off to Holland shortly after for a competition on Thursday.

Speaking to the Sligo Champion from Holland, Richard said: "I'm absolutely delighted with the win, it was a great day.

"There were 20 team riders competing and a total of ten countries. It was a fantastic week for the Irish at the Championships, with some great results.

"The Seniors had a super weekend, winning Gold, which was fantastic. And Cian O'Connor winning the individual Bronze too," the west Sligo rider said.

Richard praised Chinook too for his huge role in the victory. "Chinook is ten now and he's growing every year and getting more consistent.

"There's still plenty to come from him," he added.

Richard didn't have much of a break before it was back competing again for Thursday's contest.

"I'm in Holland now for a 2* Grand Prix and it's a chance to try some of the new horses and the younger ones, who will back Chinook when that time comes."

The Sligo showjumper was joined in Gothenburg's U25 classes by Tyrone's Jenny Rankin who finished fifth in the class with Benny's Legacy and also finished in the prizes in Gothenburg on Thursday.

The Irish duo in Gothernburg were under the guidance of Irish Development Team Manager Michael Blake.

Richard is no stranger to success and had a fantastic year last season too.

The young showjumper is based in Wetherby, near Leeds, where he runs the stable, HK Horses. "It's going great and it is difficult not being at home and there is a lot of travel involved with the horses.

"I hope they are delighted back home with how I got on in Sweden, it's great that I can do something to make them proud.

"Unfortunately I'm not home enough but we try and fit it around a business trip if possible.

"It's really busy, every week I'm away somewhere different.

"Chinook has had a busy summer so I'll give him some rest time and look at the rest of the horses to develop up the ranks," he added.

Richard was born into a family steeped in the industry and he was only eight years old when he first started showjumping.

He began competing at local gymkhanas before progressing to showjumping.

Richard moved to the UK when he was 17 to become involved in showjumping full-time.

He worked with Michael Whitaker for three years before suffering a horrific injury when he broke his back when he was 20 years of age.

The young showjumper was not giving up on his dream however and after a long recuperation period he was back competing.

His trusty mount Chinook was an eventer before making the switch to showjumping.

Back in March, the pair won the CS13* Grand Prix on the Costa del Sol Tour in Mijas.

Sligo Champion

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