Sweetnam top as pony riders impress
Top Irish riders Bertram Allen and Cameron Hanley were in action at the World Cup fixture in Stuttgart over the weekend, but the real Irish stars were the pony riders who continue to dominate the new FEI Ponies Jumping trophy series.
Allen posted two fourth placings with the nine-year-old gelding It's Me, and Hanley finished sixth with another very promising youngster, the eight-year-old Quirex, at the German fixture. But yesterday's World Cup qualifier, round five in the 13-leg Western European series, proved testing for the chestnut mare Eis Isaura which collected 26 faults in the first round for Mayoman Hanley. And Wexford's Allen just missed out on the thrilling 16-horse jump-off won by Switzerland's Steve Guerdat when leaving a single first-round pole on the floor with the more experienced nine-year-old Izzy by Picobello which had to settle for 19th spot.
Irish pony riders continue to blaze a trail however, with Abbie Sweetnam, 16-year-old niece of 2017 European team gold medallist Shane Sweetnam, showing exactly why Irish showjumping is in great shape right now by heading the Western European rankings going into the final in Mechelen, Belgium next month. Portugal's Molly Hughes Bravo, whose mother Marion Hughes rides for Ireland and father, Miguel Bravo, represents Portugal, is in second place ahead of Ireland's Seamus Hughes-Kennedy in third and Charlotte Houston and Kate Derwin in tenth and 11th places.