Ireland’s Time To Shine

It was another big win for Ireland as Anthony Condon took Thursday’s big class, the Champagne-Taittinger Ivy Stakes, on his own and Pat Hales’ SFS Vincomte with two perfectly judged clear rounds, despite being the pathfinder.

Success for Condon, who is from Co Waterford but lives on the Shropshire/Cheshire border, follows fellow Irishman Michael Pender’s puissance triumph last night. He was first to go in a competitive field of 33 and made it look easy on the nine-year-old by Veni Vidi Vici.

Scott Brash, next to go on Hello Jefferson, also went clear, but then course-designer Alan Wade’s cleverly designed track began to exert its strong influence with faults all around and a clutch of retirements.

Just when it looked like a two-horse jump-off, faultless rounds came for Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels (Delux van T & L), regular US visitor Laura Kraut (Confu), William Whitaker (RMF Echo) and German Olympian Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut).

Condon’s jump-off time of 38.53 was clearly beatable, but, surprisingly, none of the other five could produce a clear round, William Whitaker taking second with the fastest time of 34.48 seconds but a fence down.

“I wasn’t expecting to win, especially looking at the standard of the other riders in the jump-off,” admitted Condon, 32, who will ride SFS Vincomte in Sunday night’s Grand Prix. “My horse is quite green for this level, but he was more settled today. He just needs more experience and then he will be top class.”

The Irishman, whose three-year-old son Hector was keen to tell Father Christmas about Daddy’s win, went into fourth place in the Leading Rider of the Show rankings after two full days of jumping, behind the British trio of Holly Smith, William Whitaker and Ben Maher. Michael Jung, the reigning Olympic eventing champion, who is paying his first visit to Olympia, is in equal fifth place with Laura Renwick.