Irish riders hit form in Spain

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Irish riders dominated Sunday’s two-star Grand Prix at Oliva in Spain, filling three of the top four places.

Niall Talbot and the 12-year-old gelding Caracter scored a hard-fought victory, coming out on top after a hugely competitive 18 horse jump-off.

Talbot, who is originally from Kildare and now based in Switzerland, stopped the clock clear in 37.06 seconds in the second round to take the winner’s prize of €7,500 with Caracter, who is owned by Jean-Claude Engisch.

Co Londonderry-born David Simpson finished in runner-up spot with the Elm Rock-owned Chessy, half a second behind Talbot’s winning time, while Tipperary’s Thomas Ryan finished fourth with Quite Zero. Waterford’s Anthony Condon also finished inside the top 10, coming home in eighth place with Balzac.

At another Spanish show in Mijas, Sligo’s Richard Howley finished as runner-up in the two-star Grand Prix with Chinook. Kilkenny’s Marion Hughes took sixth place with Laith, while Waterford’s Francis Connors finished in 10th place with Theoreme Du Desir.

Meanwhile, the latest Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing rankings have just been released by the FEI, with several Irish riders making considerable moves up the standings following recent excellent results.

Wexford’s Bertram Allen continues to be Ireland’s best-ranked Show Jumper in 17th place, while Tipperary’s Denis Lynch has moved up five places to 27th, with Co Down’s Conor Swail next best in 33rd.

Ireland now has six riders inside the world top 50 and eight riders in the top 100. Offaly’s Darragh Kenny has climbed five places to 37th, while Meath-based Cian O’Connor moves up three places to 40 and Cork’s Billy Twomey lies in 48th.

Other Irish Show Jumping riders in the top 100 include Cork’s Shane Sweetnam (51), Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney (58), while Co Londonderry’s Daniel Coyle, who has been in stunning form since making a permanent move across the Atlantic, made an incredible jump of 56 places and is now ranked at No.84 in the world.

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann retains the No.1 spot, with Simon Delestre (FRA) in second and McLain Ward (USA) in third.