Ireland’s Darragh Kenny scored a victory in the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3* on Saturday, March 14, to conclude a banner season at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt built a track for 45 starters with 12 advancing to the tie-breaking jump-off. Returning near the end of the jump-off round, Kenny and Scarlett du Sart Z, owned by Vlock Show Stables LLC, broke the timers in 33.54 seconds to claim the lead and bump Israel’s Sydney Shulman into the runner-up position. Shulman and J-Boston S.E, a horse she owns together with her mother Jill, posted a time of 33.96 seconds.
“I’ve been very lucky – I had a good winter and all the horses went very well,” said Kenny of his season at WEF. “I had a great feeling coming into this winter because I have an incredible group of horses, and I’m very lucky that I have those horses.”
Kenny got the ride on Scarlett du Sart Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide mare (Stakkato de hann x First Bride), during the horse’s seven-year-old year. He has high hopes for the mare’s future, saying, “This is a mare that Teddy Vlock and his owner bought for me, and we’ve been slowly producing her. She’s really starting to turn a corner, and I think she’s an incredibly talented horse that will end up jumping at the highest level.
“I didn’t get to see Sydney go, but Hardin [Towell] said to me that she was very fast so I was going to have to do everything to beat her,” continued Kenny. “I was lucky I got a good shot to the third-to-last jump, which meant I could do seven to the second to the last, which I think was less than everyone else and where I won it.”
Shulman celebrated three months of hard work on Saturday after picking up the ride on J-Boston S.E in December. Her normal ride is slightly more unconventional, so it took her some time to get comfortable with the new mount.
“He is as normal and lovely as can be, but my other horses are a little more wild, so it was harder for me to get used to him,” she laughed. “He’s absolutely great. Ilan Bluman was doing him in a couple bigger classes in the fall when I saw him. He caught our eye and we’ve gotten to know each other very well.”
Of her season at WEF, which included the overall title in the Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series, Shulman said, “I’m very happy, this season was great. I think all four of my horses finished in the top three of an FEI class this circuit. That’s amazing, and I’m thrilled with that! It was a great winter, and I am very thankful to my team at Back Country Farm, my sponsors and John Roche. It takes a huge village to make sure the horses stay happy, sound, and keep me where I’m supposed to be.”
Rounding out the podium, Spencer Smith (USA) finished third riding Theodore Manciais, owned by Torrey Pines & Ashland Farm. Together they stopped the clock at 33.54 seconds.
“He’s a horse that I’ve had for a few years now and he’s been very successful for me,” said Smith, who is a Wellington local and had his whole family cheering him on from the stands. “It’s a nice thing to get a good result at home. This horse has done a lot for me. I thought we had a good round the first round, but we left a little bit of a window and these guys are so fast that they beat you if you do that.”
Placing fourth, and earning the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award for week 10, Beezie Madden (USA) piloted Garant, owned by Abigail Wexner, to a time of 34.94 seconds. Flo Norris (GBR) capped the top five riding Con Pleasure 5 in 36.62 seconds for owner Cisca Norris.