Incredible Darragh Kenny on point at MLSJ Thermal
It was a good day to be Irish. Irishmen topped the podiums of each of the feature classes Friday of Desert Holiday I at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP), and took several of the second- and third-place finishes as well. Taking the top spot in the $72,200 Whittier Trust CSI5* 1.50m was Ireland’s Darragh Kenny with Volnay Du Boisdeville, owned by Teddy Vlock.
Kenny was the quickest of 12 jump-off competitors who jumped clear over Michel Vaillancourt’s (CAN) first-round track. With a jump-off time of 35.50 seconds, he outpaced second-place finisher Conor Swail (IRL) and Theo 160, owned by Team Phillippaerts, and Bliss Heers with Antidote De Mars, who took third.
“My horse felt very good in the warm-up,” Kenny said of his jump-off strategy, knowing the pace was quick and the competition behind him was steep. “He was jumping great. Conor was very quick as always and I wanted to try to be as quick as I possibly could without rushing him too much. Conor did one more to the last than me so I thought if I could take one less to the last that would be faster, and it worked out.”
The partnership between Kenny and Volnay Du Boisdeville has been fairly short, but extremely lucrative since he took the ride only about one year ago. “We actually bought him for Teddy to ride. He had great success with Teddy for three years; he jumped him on the Nations Cup team at [the Palm Beach Masters] and jumped a few five-star grand prixs with him. I took over towards the end of last year and he’s been amazing. He won a four-star Grand Prix in Wellington, second in the five-star Grand Prix in Monaco, and he’s been an incredible horse so I’m very lucky to have him.
“He’s such a cool horse; I enjoy riding him,” Kenny continued of the 13-year-old Selle Francais stallion (Winningmood x Jalisco B). “He’s so fun. When you go in the ring you appreciate the horse. His ability is fantastic and you try to stay out of his way. For a stallion he’s so quiet, easy, and mannerly. He’s just a lovely horse.”
Kenny has been to Thermal, but it has been quite a while and the vast improvements made the park nearly unrecognizable to him.
“I came eight years ago to jump a World Cup [Qualifier] and it’s absolutely amazing the job they’ve done on the place,” he commented. “This grass ring is incredible, and the footing is just perfect. They’ve done an incredible job on the whole place. The stabling for FEI is great. It’s really enjoyable to be here. They have two CSI4* events [in the winter] so we were debating trying to do one or both of those.”
Kenny wasn’t the only Irishman who took home a CSI5* win, however.
Despite being a show jumper through and through, Picador gets to practice his eventing skills back home. “At home we do cross-country actually,” Coyle continued. “He never sees a show jump; we just do cross-country stuff. I really enjoy it and I think he enjoys it also. Some of the jumps are quite big and we go quite fast.”
In National competition, it was Ireland for the win, as well. Birthday boy Daniel Coyle captured the $7,500 Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity with Ariel Grange’s Langley. Coyle won convincingly, three seconds faster than second-place finishers Swail and Ikonic PB, owned by Vanessa Mannix, and five seconds faster than third-place finishers Robert Sean Leckie and BEC Alter Ego, owned by Sarah Freedman.
International show jumping resumes Saturday with the $40,000 La Quinta Resort & Club CSI2* Grand Prix, followed by the $200,000 Hygain MLSJ Team Competition and $74,200 Whittier Trust Individual Competition.
Final Results: $72,400 Whittier Trust CSI5* 1.50m
1. VOLNAY DU BOISDEVILLE: 2009 SF stallion by Winningmood x Jalisco B
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Teddy Vlock: 0/0/35.50
2. THEO 160: 2012 HOLST gelding by Christian 25 x Calando IV
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Team Philippaerts: 0/0/36.83
3. ANTIDOTE DE MARS: 2010 SF stallion by Diamant De Semilly x Jarnac
BLISS HEERS (USA), Bridgeside Farms LLC: 0/0/36.83
4. ARGAN DE BELIARD: 2010 SF gelding by Mylord Carthago x Ahorn
LILLIE KEENAN (USA), Chansonette Farm LLC: 0/0/40.77
5. QUINTIN: 2010 KWPN gelding by Quaprice Bois Margot x Emilion
DANIEL COYLE (IRL), Ariel Grange: 0/4/33.68
6. FREAKY: 2010 KWPN gelding by Darco x Litho X
JACQUELINE STEFFENS (CAN), Team Eye Candy: 0/4/36.65
7. CHAPILOT: 2007 HANN gelding by Chacco-Blue x Pilot
RODRIGO LAMBRE (BRA), Mario Onate: 3/37.30
8. QUALITY H: 2011 HANN gelding by FRH Quaid x Stakkato
MARK KINSELLA (IRL), Ben Asselin: 4/38.78
9. EUROSTAR 1: 2012 stallion by Diarado x Chacco-Blue
JAMES ARKINS (AUS), James Arkins: 0/4/38.82
10. HAMILTON: 2011 HOLST gelding by Quadros 3 x Acolord
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), The Hamilton Group: 0/4/40.34
11. CALCIET EB Z: 2013 ZANG mare by Cornet Obolensky x Berlin
ALEXIS SOKOLOV (USA), Hot Horses LLC: 0/4/42.91
12. COPYCAT: 2013 WESTF gelding by Comme Il Faut x Wogenbrecher
LORCAN GALLAGHER (IRL), Lost Lake Farm LLC: 0/11/54.56
Press release MLSJ Thermal
Photo by ESI Photography