Wellington, Fla. – March 30, 2017 – With only a few more days of competition left at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Ireland’s Darragh Kenny was determined to leave his mark, besting the field of 71 trips to win the blue aboard new mount, Billy Onslow. Although the pair only began competing together just a few short weeks ago, Kenny piloted the 11-year-old gelding with ease to double clear, clocking in at 33.33 seconds during the jump-off.
“I think Billy Onslow is a really cool horse. I don’t really know him very well yet, but he tries so hard and he’s very athletic. He’s super easy to ride, so I really like him. You turn back and you don’t even have to worry, you know that he’s going to leave the ground and he’s going to do his best,” praised Kenny.
Entering the first round in the International arena, the riders had to navigate a 1.50m course with 13 fences designed by Olaf Peterson Jr. With a time limit of 78 seconds, only 21 competed the course successfully without any faults and qualified for the jump-off.
Darragh Kenny rode clear through round one with a time of 75.54 seconds, but it wouldn’t be until the jump-off that he would call upon Billy Onslow to perform and their new relationship would be tested.
Being only the second out of 19 who attempted the shortened course Kenny knew he would have to set the pace early on, not knowing the strategies of his competitors.
“I know Billy Onslow has a massive stride and he’s really brave and careful, so I just went as fast as I could go. There were 18 people after me, so I knew if I left the door open at all I’d have no chance. I did eight strides to the second last fence and I did eight to the last fence, which nobody else did and I also did an inside turn to the double. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing,” Kenny laughed.
Watch Darragh Kenny and Billy Onslow’s clear round!
“I did the first line and I knew he had a big stride, but I didn’t realize how big. I did the seven really slow and I thought I must have miscounted and done eight, so then I panicked and thought I have to do something really special now to try and win the class. He was just amazing. He shouldn’t have jumped the double from where I turned back at all, but he’s so brave and careful. I really like him!” Kenny remarked.
Claiming the reserve honors in the jump-off was Margie Engle aboard Gladewinds Farm Inc.’s Royce, a 2004 Oldenburg Stallion. The duo raced to the finish with a time of 34.22 seconds and double clear rounds.
Nicole Walker and her own Falco Van Spieveld rounded out the top three placings for this final WEF Challenge Cup. The pair sailed their way through the course in 36.23 seconds to claim third place.
With just the last $216,000 Wanderer’s Club CSI4* Grand Prix left for Kenny, he hopes to pilot his mount Gasper Van Den Doorn to secure his last ribbon of the 2017 WEF season.