Traverse City, Michigan, USA – July 23, 2023 – Irish Olympian Darragh Kenny came to Traverse City for the very first time during the third week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), and he’s finishing off his debut as a grand prix winner. Aboard Eddy Blue, the Irishman bested 34 entries in Sunday’s $77,300 Grand Prix CSI 2*, taking the top prize.
“I think it’s a really special horse,” Kenny said of Eddy Blue, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Eldorado Van De Zeshoek x Chacco Blue), owned by Kerry Anne LLC. “I think it can jump five-star grand prixs; I think it can win five-star grand prixs. I’m really excited for the horse. It’s owned by the McCahill family, who actually owned some of my first five-star grand prix horses five or six years ago. Now we’re working together again and it’s quite a special thing to have a really good horse from them again.”
Kenny had two rides of the six that jumped clear over Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) first-round track. Cathleen Driscoll (USA) has been on winning form with all her horses, and also had two jumping off. Aboard Flotylla, owned by Don Stewart, she had the fastest time, but pulled one rail down on her way.
She returned aboard VDL Salty Blue, owned by The Marsel Group, fifth in the order and put in the clear she needed, as no one had jumped double-clear yet.
With the advantage of going last, Kenny knew exactly what to do with the horse, despite its greeness at the FEI level. He jumped clear and was roughly two seconds quicker than Driscoll and VDL Salty Blue. Driscoll, now at the top of the Open Jumper Rider Bonus Leaderboard, claimed second and third on her mounts.
“My horse is actually very green at this level,” Kenny continued of Eddy Blue. “This is the first two-star grand prix I’ve jumped him in. I’ve only had him since the end of March but I think he’s a very good horse. He’s really special.
“[Cathleen] played a smart risk,” he continued. “I just went as quick as he felt comfortable, and as long as that worked evenly then it was going to be good enough.”
With a tougher track in the short course, Kenny realized he had a delicate balance between being quick and keeping all the rails in the cups. Ultimately, only two pairs jumped double clear.
“I think Cathleen had a really unlucky jump with her first horse, and it was the horse to beat today,” Kenny said of Driscoll’s Welcome Stake winner, Flotylla. “My first horse, [Arna ‘T Kruisveld], was a little tired in the jump-off. Then I was surprised that the two girls – [Olivia Williams (USA) and Samantha Kasowitz (USA), who had brilliant first rounds – they had unlucky rails down. When it got to myself and Cathleen in the end, it was just about who could leave the jumps up.”
Rails down or not, Kenny has had a fabulous week in Traverse City, especially with the CSI2* Grand Prix win in his pocket. “This is actually the first time I’ve ever been here,” he shared. “It’s beautiful; the show is fantastic, the weather is amazing, it’s run incredibly, and they do a brilliant job with it. I’m really enjoying it. I will jump the three-star next week with two different horses and I’ll jump the five-star for Major League Show Jumping. We’ll just enjoy it and try to pick up some results.”
Show jumping returns at the CSI3* level with GLEF IV on Wednesday.
Final Results – $77,300 Grand Prix CSI 2*
1) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Eddy Blue – 0 / 0 – 39.84
2) Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & VDL Salty Blue – 0 / 0 – 41.79
3) Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & Flotylla – 0 / 4 – 36.49
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography / Megan Giese Photography