• Hilton Flight wins $150,000 Indio Circuit Finale Coming Soon (2004)

Irish rider tops Canadian in jump-off

By MICHELE DARGAN, Daily News Staff Writer
Reprinted by permission of
Copyright 2004 Palm Beach Daily News
March 16, 2004

Monday, March 15, 2004 — WELLINGTON — In keeping with the week's International theme, three riders — one Irish, one Canadian and one American — battled for the top prize Sunday in the jump-off of the $100,000 Cosequin U.S. Open Jumper Championship in the finale of the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Ireland's Kevin Babington, riding Carling King, captured the $30,000 first prize by finishing in 42.70, nearly 5 seconds faster than Canadian Ian Millar's fault-free round aboard Promise Me in 47.62. Millar pocketed $22,000 for second place. U.S. rider McLain Ward and Sapphire pulled a rail at 4A of the double combination, finishing their round with four faults in 44.19 and earning $13,000 for third.

Going 23rd in the 31-horse first-round field, the 57-year-old Millar, an eight-time Olympian known as "Captain Canada," was the first to finish the course with no faults. Three trips later, Babington assured the crowd of a jump-off with another clear round. Babington pumped his fist in the air after clearing the final obstacle and an Irish fan contingent, left over from Friday's Nations' Cup, cheered loudly. Last in the order, Ward added a U.S. rider to the jump-off.

Babington and the 13-year-old Irish-bred, Carling King, also took the top prize in the $75,000 PDP Capital Masters Cup on Feb. 29, when the pair won with a conservative jump-off round. But Babington knew he would have to take a risk to win a second time.

"I saw Ian's round and I thought if I gave it a shot I could beat him and I knew McLain was coming behind me," Babington said of his jump-off plan. "So I thought to go for a slow, clear round, I would definitely end up third. I might as well give it a shot and it paid off. That's the fastest I've ever gone on him."

First to go in the jump-off, Millar said his plan was to go slow and clear.

"Anytime you're in a situation with only three cleans, if you fault you give them an absolute present," Millar said. "You've got to jump it clean to keep some semblance of pressure on them. When I finished, I thought I would be very fortunate to win and very unlucky to be third, so I ended up exactly where I probably should have. So it played out pretty much how I expected it would."

Because Ward was last to go in the first round, and there were only three riders in the jump-off, there was a short turnaround time before he had to return for the shortened jump-off course. The 28-year-old Ward, a three-time Rider of the Year, said going back into the ring so quickly may have worked against him.

"Normally the last person is in the catbird seat in the jump-off," Ward said. "But the turnover time was so quick that I felt my horse was still a little out of breath and it was very rushed and that was a little bit difficult. ... She's only 9 years old and to jump around a course like that takes a lot out of her mentally and she could have probably benefited from a moment, but she was in good company and I was thrilled with her."

Seventeen of the first-round competitors accrued time faults on the 13-obstacle, 16-jumping effort first-round course designed by Jose "Pepe" Gamarra. Three of those riders, Eric Hasbrouck of the United States, Federico Sztyrle of Argentina and Harold Chopping of Canada, accrued no jumping faults, but tallied one time fault apiece after exceeding the 83-second time allowed. Chopping, who posted double clear rounds in Canada's Nations' Cup victory Friday night, finished fourth aboard Kathleen ($8,000); Hasbrouck rode Sitah to fifth place ($6,000) and Sztyrle took the sixth spot with Who knows Lily ($5,000).

Before the class, Hasbrouck said prophetically, "There are three or four options that are very difficult. There are a lot of rider questions. The other thing about this course is that I'm sure the time will be kind of borderline. If you take a lot of time to answer these questions, you will have time faults."

Gamarra, who designed the courses during the past week of international competition, said he hoped for six riders in the jump off. "Today is an interesting course," he said. "I wouldn't say it's very, very hard, but it's hard enough for the amount of money that we give and being that it's the finale of the circuit."

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Meath yard breaks into East European market

Michael Slavin reports
Irish Farmers Journal
June 1, 2002

Latvia is not only the venue for next year's Eurovision but is also playing host to a group of Irish bred sport horses which are being sourced by the Meath-based yard of Larkin Brothers International.

Included are three young event horses and four mares in foal to some of our top jumper producing stallions. This is an important development in the effort to secure new markets for Irish sport horses in fast-developing, newly-independent countries that had previously been within the former Soviet Union.

Latvia has a very strong tradition both in eventing and show jumping and is a very likely customer for what Ireland has to offer.

It should be remembered that a group of riders from there made history when two years before the break-up of the USSR began, they demanded to wear the Latvian flag at the World Cup in Helsinki. This was the first time this had been done by any athlete from their country since the twenties.

Paul Larkin of Larkin Brothers notes that he was first contacted last March by Latvian event rider Norman Kisnics who had found his name through the Irish Horse Board list of Irish sport horse agents.

He was looking for three young eventers with international potential and he knew just what he was looking for since he had five USSR championships to his credit. Paul worked with him and eventually came up with the three Irish breds. This in turn led to his being invited out to Latvia for a viewing of facilities at Kisnics sponsor, Three Willows Farm, which is two hours from Riga. They have 1,500 acres and run at least 100 horses

The greatest desire at Three Willows Farm is to upgrade their bloodlines and to this end they immediately gave Larkin an order for four Irish bred mares proven in foal to top class stallions. These are now ready to be flown out and they include: a five-year-old by Dublin champion Carrabaun View out of a Regular Guy dam, now in foal to High Roller; another five-year-old by the Clover Hill sire Clover Dubh out of a Nijinski dam, now in foal to Errigal Flight; a full sister to USA international Ado Annie by Errigal Flight out of a Blue Peter dam, now in foal to Touchdown; and finally a Coevers Diamond Boy 1998 mare out of an Aristocracy dam, in foal to a son of Cruising - Flexible.

The Latvians have also ordered an Irish thoroughbred stallion. And on top of that, Paul Larkin has now also had inquiries from Lithuania that is also interested in improving its stock. "The performance of the Irish team and of Irish bred horses over the last two years has not gone un - noticed in these countries and it is paying off," he notes.

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Young Selleck blazes own trail

Calgary Herald
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Page: F1 / FRONT
Section: Sports
Byline: Lauren MacGillivray
Source: Calgary Herald

Hannah Selleck, daughter of television star Tom Selleck, isn't the typical movie-star kid one might imagine.

While the 14-year-old is a show jumper with access to pricey, chic steeds, she insists on doing most of the grooming and barn work. No hired help.

"It helps you to get to know the horses and connect with them," she said.

Selleck is competing in her first season at Spruce Meadows in amateur classes, jumping fences at 1.1 metres. She's been riding since she was four years old.

On Friday, Selleck rode a grey mare, El Campeons Hazel, in the Canada One competition's Corill Holdings 1.1 metre Jumper and beat a field of 33 entries. The pair made the jumpoff and finished in a speedy 32.44 seconds.

"I really like it here," she said. "Everyone's so nice."

Her father was busy Friday filming a CBS drama in Calgary, Twelve Mile Road. The 58-year-old actor is best known for his starring role as the hunky Thomas Magnum on the 1980s television series Magnum P.I. More recently, he had a stint on the hit sitcom Friends.

Selleck was able to watch Hannah compete earlier in the week, and will be in the crowd to cheer her on during next week's Spruce Meadows North American tournament.

Hannah's mother Jillie, an actress, dancer and former cast member of the musical CATS, arrived in Calgary on Friday night.

Selleck said while her parents lead busy lives, they always make time for their only child.

"Usually, at least one of them is at my lessons," she said. "I think it's nice they support me."

The family lives on a ranch in Thousand Oaks, Calif., next door to American Grand Prix riders Will and Nicole Simpson of El Campeons Farm.

Selleck leases El Campeons Hazel, the horse she rode Friday. She also owns another horse, Bandito, who specializes in hunter classes.

Trainer Nancy Turrill watched over Selleck on Friday in her parents' absence. Turrill has been coaching Selleck through the Fox Field riding school for eight years.

"She'll go all the way (in show jumping)," Turrill predicted. "She's very interested."

Turrill said it's been enjoyable getting to know the Selleck family.

"They're very nice people and they want Hannah to grow up as ordinary as possible," she said.

The Spruce Meadows Canada One continues today and Sunday.

Today's main event is the $50,000 RBC Cup. Phase 1 is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and Phase 2 is set to run at 2 p.m.

Check www.sprucemeadows.com for possible time changes.


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USA rider aiming Irish mare at Pan Am gold

By Michael Slavin
Irish Farmers Journal
February 22, 2003

USA rider of the Irish bred mare Ado Annie, Will Simpson aims to qualify her for the USET team to compete at the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic later this year.

"She has the scope, courage and carefulness needed to go all the way," says Will, who holds the World High jump record. He was in Ireland last week on a horse/hunting holiday with Paul Larkin who exported Ado Annie to America in the first place.

She was bred by Frances Sheeran of Portlaoise by Errigal Flight out of a Blue Peter dam. And interestingly enough, the most promising young horse in Will Simpson's young string at the moment is a four-year-old out of a full sister to Ado Annie, named Carmel, after Larkin's Mum.

It was indeed a busy weekend at the Larkin stables near Trim as they not only hosted the USA star but also a movie star and a top American political family, all in search of another Ado Annie.

Simpson relaxed with us on the eve of a brilliant day out with the Ward Union on one of Charlie O'Neill's horses and was effusive in his praise of the Irish mare.

"She has absolutely done everything that the I have asked of her for the El Campeon Farms. As a matter of fact she went out as just a seven-year-old and won the first ever $25,000 Grand Prix I entered her in. We were third last of eight to go and she just smoked them all. As an eight-year-old she won six Grand Prix on the trot. She is just plain special."

Simpson qualified her for the World Cup Final in Leipzig last year. He was at WEG in Jerez with his wife Nicole, who was on the USA team there and missed out on the early qualifiers for this year's final in Vegas. But having had a third at Indio two weeks ago and with two more rounds to go, he might just still make it. Anyway his big goal is the gold in the Pan Americans.

Another Irish-bred going brilliantly at the moment is the big jumping Mr. Springfield for Britain's Robert Smith.

This one by Western Promise out of a Ballinrobe dam, bred by Robert Gallagher of Derry, won the big Classic in Zurich three weeks ago, came third in the Grand Prix at Bordeaux last week and won again in the World Cup preliminary at Vigo last weekend. Smith says he is aiming him at European Gold at Donnaueschingen later this year and at Athens after that.

It is interesting that both Ado Annie and Mr Springfield are bred along the old traditional Irish lines.

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Dermott Lennon the diamond in the sun

Michael Slavin reports from the WEG, in Jerez, Spain
Irish Farmers Journal
September 28, 2002

Taking away all the Irish heartache at these World Equestrian Games 2002 in sunny Jerez, 33 year old Banbridge, Co. Down rider Dermott Lennon produced a masterful virtuoso performance of sheer brilliance to win Ireland's first ever individual show jumping world gold medal.

Matching Dermott's brilliance all the way was his 11 year old Irish bred Touchdown mare Liscalgot who jumped either clears or fours at crucial moments in the four competitions to give Lennon his shot at gold.

She is an absolute credit to all her associates - most of all the consortium of businessmen who put up a reported E2 million earlier this year to keep her in the country.

Ireland's team result was disappointing and a good deal unlucky as a single fence in the second round of Thursday's final dropped Dermott Lennon, Peter Charles, Kevin Babbington, and Cian O'Connor down from a possible fifth to seventh out of the 21 sides taking part.

This in effect meant that Ireland did not gain automatic qualification for the Athen's Olympics and it also cast further doubt on their making the group of eight for next year's Samsung Super League.

Ireland started reasonably well in Wednesday's speed leg and were ranked fifth at days end. But a disastrous first round in Thursday's final dropped them back to seventh. Dermott Lennon produced the only clear, Peter Charles and Kevin Babbington both had eights while Cian O'Connor took a fall that knocked him and Waterford Crystal out of the competition.

A better second round that saw clears for Lennon and Babbington was still not enough to lift Ireland out of seventh place on a score of 30.94 behind medal winners France (13.22), Sweden (21.02), Belgium (22.68) along with Germany (27.69), Holland (29.39) and U.S.A. (29.95).

Those figures show that a single unlucky fence by Peter Charles and Corada cost Ireland at least two places.

The good news for the Irish, however, was that the excellent second round recovery meant that they had all three remaining team members into the top 25 semi-final on Saturday.

Peter Charles was in 23rd, Kevin Babbington 15th and Dermott Lennon in a challenging 6th with Liscalgot. At this point Peter Wylde (USA) Eric Navet (France), Helena Lundback (Sweden) and Eric Levallois (France) held the magic top four places.

Saturday's semi-final turned into the most dramatic of the competition so far. An ingenious line of fences in front of the grand stand that had water to rustic double to light planks demanded masterful riding. It took its toll and there were only two clears in that first round. This meant that four faulters counted mightily. Peter Charles and Kevin Babbington both just had one down and moved up to sixteenth and twelfth respectively. Dermot Lennon jumped the difficult line but then as the crowd applauded his mare took down the next fence. However, his four faults was still enough to boost Lennon into the magic four in third as they went into the second round. The second round again changed the order Charles and Babbington both went clear and ended tenth and eight overall.

As fences fell for the leading group an unlucky four at the second last by Dermot Lennon was still enough to have the Banbridge man hang on to fourth place and his now legendary shot at gold along with Eric Navet on the French stallion Dollar Dumurier, Peter Wylde on the calm Holsteiner mare Fein Cera, Helena Lundback on the little fiery Swedish mare Mynta by Robin Z. Dermot Lennon's experience of twelve years on the Irish novice show circuit was now to stand him in good stead. When asked before the competition what he thought about riding the little Swedish mare he answered with a laugh "I have ridden worse".

An so the final contest began. Dermot shone throughout like a diamond in the Spanish sun.

Clear on Liscalgot, clear again on Fein Cera, clear yet again on the Jalisco B stallion Dollar Dumurier. Meantime, Peter Wylde was on twelve, Helena Lundback on 19 and Eric Navet on 8. Gold was in sight.

As Dermot went in for his last ride on the little Swedish mare he had just one fence on hand. They were clear over the first four fences, then the first part of the treble dropped and it took all of Lennon's genius to get her back. That he did with consumate cool to jump the last three fences clear and into the adoring applause of a packed Spanish arena. He was their new matador, but he was also Ireland's darling - the pride of Co. Down, Dermot Lennon. Eric Navet took silver and Peter Wylde the bronze, but for the first time in the history of the championship, it was gold for Ireland.

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Irish Horses Doing Well

By Jim Leary
26th February 2002

EEZY (ISH) WINS $50,000 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER Another King of Diamonds. Eezy is by Diamond Chin by Flagmount Diamond by King of Diamonds.

The Irish Sport Horse Eezy has just won the $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier at Indio, California last Sunday, the 24th February 2002. Ridden by Duncan McFarlane the big gelding produced a flawless jump-off ride with clever inside cuts to beat the competition by over a second. This successful pair were also recently placed second in the $50,000 Indio Grand Prix FEI World Cup on the 3rd February 2002.

Eezy was 2nd in the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix in Indio, California on the 26th January 2001. He won both the $45,000 US Derby at Del Mar, California in August 2000 and the $25,000 Grand Prix in San Diego, CA also in August. Throughout 2000 he was well placed in a further 5 Grand Prix classes including a 3rd in the World Cup Qualifier at San Diego (September).

Eezy (1992) is an Irish Sport Horse gelding by Diamond Chin (ISH), out of Brown Dollie (ISH), by Skylark (RID). He was bred by Mr. Eugene McGinn, Drumgoose, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan and was produced by Ms. Linda Courtney. The sire of Eezy, Diamond Chin was himself a Grade A show jumping stallion owned by Mr. Thomas Kernan, Haynestown Stud, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Eezy is owned by Ms. Kathie Cheatham, Alamo, CA and is ridden by Mr. Duncan McFarlane.

King of Diamonds Granddaughter wins again
Ado Annie by Errigal Flight by King of Diamonds

Ado Annie wins her 3rd World Cup Qualifier this year

Ado Annie (ISH) won the World Cup Qualifier ($40,000 dollar class) at Griffith Park, California on the 17th November 2001.

Ado Annie (ISH) is a 1993 mare by Errigal Flight (ISH) out of Coolrain Princess (ISH), by Blue Peter (RID), bred by Ms Frances Sheeran, Glebe, Coolrain, Portlaoise, Co. Laois and is ridden by Mr Will Simpson (USA). She was purchased by the Larkin Brothers as a yearling and was sold as a 4 year old to the US by them. The Larkin Brothers now own her dam and full sister born this year.

Earlier this year Ado Annie (ISH) won 3 World Cup Qualifiers in the US and was 2nd in another.. She was 2nd in the $150,000 Derby in Calgary in September. She also won the $25,000 Surfside GP in May and was 3rd in both the $50,000 EMO GP in January and the $25,000 Ariat GP in February.

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