With a jumpoff turn that no other rider attempted, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny outrode a field of 78 entries on a new mount to win the $75,000 Ruby et Violette CSI3* Challenge Cup, Round 10 on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, USA.
Kenny partnered with Gasper Van Den Doorn, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Calvaro x Larome) that is owned by his student, Teddy Vlock of Vlock Show Stables, and was previously ridden by Canada’s Mac Cone. The USA’s Marilyn Little followed up with a double clear round aboard Clear Water to place 2nd, and Jimmy Torano was 3rd with Betagravin.
“He’s like the perfect horse, he’s beautiful to ride, he’s got an amazing canter and his jumps are fantastic. He’s a really cool horse,” commented Kenny about his mount.
Twenty-one clear rounds were produced in Round 1, but with a cold snap that drifted through Florida causing low temperatures, the Michel Vaillancourt-designed track turned up plenty of challenges for fresh horses.
A triple combination early on course at 4ABC rode uphill across the center of the International Arena. An option on the approach of six forward or a short seven strides meant that many riders came too deep to the A element and got into trouble over the B element oxer. Two riders suffered falls there, and many others took down rails.
However, Kenny, who has built a strong record of successful, winning partnerships on brand new rides, had no issue with the Round 1 course.
True to form, Kenny gained the ride on the talented grey gelding just weeks ago, and immediately added Gasper Van Den Doorn’s first, major FEI win to his record. He chose to risk it in a jumpoff turn that no other rider attempted, and it paid off when he came home in 38.13 seconds. That time was nearly two seconds faster than Little’s 40.05 seconds for 2nd place.
Kenny, who grew up riding many different horses in his native Ireland and continued that as a young professional under Missy Clark and John Brennan, credited his background riding all types for his ability to form such quick, successful partnerships.
“From very young I was always taught to ride many different types of horses and things like that also in my mom’s training and training with Missy, riding so many horses in the USA and so many horses in Ireland I learnt to adapt very quickly,” he commented. “I think at the end of the day, a good horse is a good horse and then they’re easy to ride.”
Kenny plans to partner up with Gasper Van Den Doorn again on Saturday evening for the $130,000 Horseware Ireland CSI3* Grand Prix.