Ireland has a new European champion after Seamus Hughes Kennedy held his nerve to win the individual gold medal at the FEI European Show Jumping Championships for Young Riders
Hughes Kennedy was part of the GAIN Equine Nutrition Irish team that won team gold in dominant fashion on Friday and was foot perfect on board ESI Rocky (ISH) to land the Under-21 individual prize.
Hughes Kennedy went into this morning’s final with the horse bred by Ennisnag Stud and owned by his mother Clare lying in fifth place overall, with compatriots Niamh McEvoy and Rhys Williams occupying the first and second positions.
With McEvoy unlucky to have four faults on Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick (ISH) and Williams the same with Playboy JT Z in the first round of the final, it meant the Kilkenny man sat in the top spot as they entered the arena for the final time, with Williams and McEvoy also in the medals.
That final round proved to be just one too far for McEvoy and William, whose scores of 8 meant they finished in sixth and seventh, respectively.
With the buffer of having one fence in hand, Hughes Kennedy did have four faults before drama struck for those watching the live feed.
With the cameras failing and screens going black, Irish supporters faced an anxious wait to see if Hughes Kennedy and ESI Rocky could come home clear.
That they did, and Ireland has a new European champion, with Hughes Kennedy topping the podium ahead of Sweden’s Beata Hermelin with Obsession Night and Holland’s Skye Morssinkhof on board G-Vingino-Blue.
Hughes Kennedy said: “I’m happy out, this is great. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved – it’s been a long road in getting us here.
“A special thank you to Ennisnag Stud, my uncle who lives just down the road. He bred the horse and we bought him as a two-year-old.
“We’ve had him for the last six years at home and brought him along to this point. It’s great to have something like this to show for it.”
HSI CEO Denis Duggan added: “What an achievement for Seamus, his mum Clare Hughes, who owns ESI Rocky, and everyone involved behind the scenes who have helped them achieve this, my warmest congratulations.
“To win a European Championship is just incredible and we are all delighted for Seamus and ESI Rocky at Horse Sport Ireland.”