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Equestrian: Lynch caps season with Rider of the Year award


Denis Lynch. Photo: Getty Images

Denis Lynch. Photo: Getty Images

Denis Lynch. Photo: Getty Images

Denis Lynch was announced winner of the International Rider of the Year award at the annual Showjumpers Club Awards Ball in Kildare.

Lynch was in action in Geneva so Showjumpers Club chairman Edward Doyle presented the trophy to former Irish jumping team star James Kernan, who accepted it on behalf of the Tipperary man. Lynch had to see off strong opposition for the award, particularly from the in-form Billy Twomey.

The Rookie of the Year award went to 23-year-old Nicola FitzGibbon from Kildare. She followed up her victory in the 2009 National Championship by finishing a close second this year.

FitzGibbon also produced some spectacular performances from her top horse, Puissance, at Dublin Horse Show before helping Ireland to second place in the Nations Cup at the prestigious Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Canada, in September.

Kilkenny's Eddie Moloney claimed the title of 2010 National Champion while Ger O'Neill was presented with the National Speed Champion award and the enormous promise of 15-year-old Wexford lad Bertram Allen, who clinched individual gold at the European Pony Championships, was recognised by a Special Achievement award.

Allen also joined Emma O'Dwyer, Shane Kenny, Tom Foley and Kate McDonagh to accept the Team of the Year trophy following their silver medal-winning performance at the Europeans.

Paul O'Shea, who recently moved to work in Pennsylvania, USA, returned to accept his award as winner of both the TRM National Grand Prix and Showjumping Ireland Premier Grand Prix series. The Limerick man was in unbeatable form for much of the year, accumulating €75,000 in prize money on the Irish circuit, and Paul Clarke and Michael Walsh who co-own one of his top rides, Daydream St Ghyvan Z, received the Leading Owners trophy.

John Floody's victories in both the Chippison Spring Tour and the Kingsland/Showjumping Ireland Autumn Grand Prix leagues were also acknowledged and Michael Smith, former owner of Floody's winning ride Larkhill Cruiser, took the Premier Series Leading Owner title.

Michael McAleese was announced Amateur of the Year, Nadia Frei, who works with Trevor Breen, was crowned Groom of the Year and the Junior/Young Rider of the Year was Vincent Byrne.

Clones man Clem McMahon took a Special Achievement award for his victory with the six-year-old NLS Cool Ale Clover at the World Breeding Federation Championships at Lanaken in Belgium in September.

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Ian Fearon, whose work with Irish pony teams as both chef d'equipe and trainer has produced phenomenal results in recent years, was also acknowledged by a Special Achievement award. The Show of the Year title went to Aglish Gymkhana, Cappoquin, Waterford.

Meanwhile, the Irish equestrian community is mourning the passing of Olympic event rider, international coach and advisor and former Officer Commanding at the Army Equitation School, Lt Col Ronnie MacMahon, who died last Saturday.

Partnering the great San Carlos, Lt Col MacMahon was second at Badminton Horse Trials in 1970, won the Punchestown Three-Day Event in 1971 and completed two Olympic Games -- at Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976.

He was chef d'equipe and coach to the Irish eventing squad and, following his retirement from the army, was Show Jumping Technical Advisor for the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation for eight years.

Paying tribute to him yesterday, FEI president Princess Haya said: "He was one of the richest horsemen, in spirit and soul, that I have ever known."

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