Kiwis lead way in Meath
New Zealand's James Avery and Emma McNab hold the top two places after dressage in the CIC 3-Star at the Tattersalls International Horse Trials in Ratoath, Co Meath yesterday.
However, the late, great George Mernagh, in whose memory this competition is run and whose birthday was yesterday, would have been smiling down on Jonty Evans and his Rio Olympic star Cooleys Rorkes Drift who slotted into third for Ireland and who go into today's showjumping phase in the Irish Independent Main Arena just fractionally behind the leading kiwis.
George was 56 years old and Managing Director of Tattersalls Ireland when he died of cancer in 2011. A respected judge and accomplished horseman who competed successfully in both National Hunt racing and three-day-eventing, he was also a much-loved personality. It was the Wexford man's dream to establish a world-class eventing fixture at the Meath venue and that dream has come true as, 13 years after it began, a massive field of more than 350 top-class horse-and-rider combinations from 16 countries are battling for the honours this weekend.
Avery (25) who is based in Hungerford, Berkshire and riding the 10-year-old gelding Zazu, posted a score of 20.80 to take the dressage lead yesterday.
Surrey-based McNab (30) lies just over a penalty point behind her compatriot with the Irish-bred Fernhill Tabasco.
Evans (46) and the horse he rode to ninth place in Rio, are only two points off the leading score while fellow Irishman, Sam Watson (32), holds eighth and 10th places with Imperial Sky and Horseware Ardagh Highlight.