OFFALY’S Darragh Kenny claimed victory in the $134,000 three-star Grand Prix at Kentucky Spring Horse Show in Lexington, USA on Saturday, May 11 – repeating his win in the same competition in 2018.
The result completes a brilliant comeback for Kenny’s winning mount ‘Babalou 41’, who is owned by Jack Snyder. The 13-year-old mare missed out on a place last year’s World Equestrian Games after undergoing emergency colic surgery, as Kenny explained: “After her win in last year’s Grand Prix, she was amazing through the summer, but unfortunately she had colic surgery and we spent the whole winter working to get her back to her best again. She finally feels like she’s there. It’s nice to have her back to her old self again. Next she will jump two weeks in Spruce Meadows in both Grand Prix classes and then I will aim her for the Grand Prix in Aachen [Germany] again.”
Seven of the 49 starters made it into the jump-off and Kenny took the lead with a clear round in 47.84 seconds, nearly a full second faster than Margie Engle (USA), who had been leading with ‘Royce’. Last to go, Ali Wolff (USA) and ‘Casall’ tried to beat Kenny’s time, however she fell just half a second short, finishing on a time of 48.26 to take runner-up spot while Engle would finish third.
Kenny’s victory topped a successful week for the Irishman at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, having multiple wins aboard various rides in the Rolex Stadium. Kenny and ‘Babalou 41’ have been partnered together for just over a year and have had notable success across the globe. In the 2018 €1 Million Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen, the pair finished fourth after having helped Rodrigo Pessoa’s Irish team capture second place in the €200,000 Mercedes-Benz FEI Nations Cup.
Speaking about his winning jump-off round in Kentucky, Kenny said: “‘Babalou’ is just so naturally fast. She was great and she jumped fantastic in the jump-off. She is just so naturally fast and she knows how to run and jump. She’s had great success in this ring for a long time, so I’ve been very happy that she was so good today too.”