Jessica Kuerten, Dave Quigley and Scandinavian-based John Hickey head for the second qualifying round of the Rolex FEI World Cup jumping series in Helsinki this weekend, writes LOUISE PARKES.
Kuerten was denied a place in the seven-horse jump-off at the first leg in Oslo last Sunday by a final-fence mistake in the opening round.
But she still collected eight valuable qualifying points when slotting into ninth with Castle Forbes Cosma while Shane Breen, who also left one fence on the floor with World Cruise, picked up just two points when finishing 15th.
Early points ensure less pressure for riders later in the series, which includes 13 qualifying legs before the final in Leipzig, Germany, at the end of April 2011.
At home last Sunday, Navan rider John Floody won the fifth round of the Kingsland SJI Autumn Grand Prix League, pipping Irish team members Cian O'Connor and Dermott Lennon -- who recently returned from the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
Floody, partnering Michael Smith's ever-consistent Larkhill Cruiser, pipped his former pupil O'Connor -- riding Splendor -- by more than a second ,while Lennon and Tolett finished third ahead of Gerard Clarke and Colorado in fourth, Robert Harrison and Cruise Touch in fifth and Capt David O'Brien with Annestown in sixth.
Peter Smyth continues to top the series leaderboard, having forged ahead following his victory in Eglinton, Derry 10 days ago, but Floody -- who also won at the opening leg in Cavan in September -- is now only two points behind the Tyrone man.
Two of the younger generation of Irish show jumpers -- 21-year-old Alex Duffy from Mayo and Alexander Butler, who was a member of the victorious Irish Nations Cup team in Helsinki in June and who finished 10th in the Grand Prix at St Lo in France last Sunday -- won the second and third rounds of this 10-leg series, which moves on to Killossery Equestrian Centre in North Dublin next Monday.