Dermott Lennon needed a bit of convincing to sit down and do an interview with WoSJ. “I’m not so good at it,” he tried when we called him up. But at WoSJ we don’t give up so easily and after a few minutes we had an appointment with the former World Champion – and armed ourselves with a recommended Mars-bar and some nearby tea in the press room. Dermott is a man of – no, not few, but not so many words at the time. He is also a great horse man, and in Gothenburg he was without his groom – who was on the way to Spain and the Sunshine Tour – so Lennon did most of the work in the stables and with the horses on his own, and according to sources in the stables he did a great job, and “was really good at it”. No resting on laurels here!
At home in Ireland Dermott has a stable “with about a dusin horses” as he puts it. “I’m based in Banbridge in county Down – at my parents’ place where I grew up. At our yard we mostly have youngsters that I ride up myself. I also have two people riding for me,” Dermott explains. For some years, Dermott was based in the Netherlands “but I returned to Ireland when I married and started a family,” he says with a tiny smile. “Logistically it’s a lot more difficult to be based in Ireland than on the continent, but during the summer most of my competition horses stay in Europe to make life easier,” Dermott says.
Dermott’s top horse is Hallmark Elite – a twelve year old by Lord Byron Z. “He has been with me since he was a six year old. Originally his owner Mr. Rosbotham bought him for his daughter to ride when he was four but he ended up with me. He’s a sensitive horse, and he’s done some really good things,” Dermott says of the horse on which he has won some big classes in Aachen, Royan, Geneva and Dublin – to mention some. On his future plans with Hallmark Elite, Dermott simply says; “I would like to do the World Cup final on him, that’s as far forward as I think.”
Loughview Lou-Lou is another good horse in Dermott’s string. Just like Dermott she has been born and raised in Ireland, and is by the Irish sire Limmerick and is out of a Jack of Diamonds-mare. It doesn’t get more Irish than that. “She won the Grand Prix at Olympia, and is a very competitive horse,” Dermott says of the ten year old mare. “I got her about a year ago, and hopefully she will be good enough for the big stuff!”
With an eye for youngsters, we ask Dermott what he looks for in a young horse. “They need to be athletes and they need to be careful. I like horses with blood, and not the more heavy ones. I don’t have any particular bloodlines that I prefer; it’s more about the picture in your mind of what you are on the look for,” the 42 year old explains. “And you need luck with the younger horses as well!” Dermott rides to produce and sell – both own and other owners’ horses. On the question how the horse market is in Ireland, where the economic climate has taken its toll, Dermott replies “It’s like everywhere else; if you have a good young horse it sells. You can sell good young horses anywhere.” That’s Dermott Lennon for you; he’s definitely to the point.
We can’t talk to Dermott without talking about Liscalgot – his partner at the World Championships in 2002 where Dermott claimed the individual gold. Liscalgot and Dermott were the first in Ireland’s history to make that achievement. “Liscalgot is still alive and 21 years old,” he smiles, eyes twinkling. “She stays at home with us, and is in foal again this year. Liscalgot looks exactly the same; she doesn’t look 21 at all – she’s really fit and looks more like a competition horse than a brood mare! She’s a really special horse!”
An injury back in 2003 sadly forced one of the world’s best horses to an early retirement. But Liscalgot’s talent has been passed on to her many offspring. Two of them joined Dermott on the Sunshine Tour; Calgot Pleasure and Calgot Hero. “Calgot Pleasure is a seven year old by For Pleasure. She’s a really good horse, and is just like her mother in her looks, temperament and the way she jumps,” Dermott says enthusiastically. “Basically Calgot Pleasure is like a clone of her mother, and looks very exciting!” Dermott explains that Calgot Hero – a six year old – is more different from his mother, but has only been with him for a few months so their partnership is quite new. “Both horses are embryo transfers, and are owned by Liscalgot’s owner,” he adds. On his expectations to the two Liscalgot-babies, Dermott laughs and says if only he had a crystal ball he could look into.
Dermott is obviously a man who loves what he does, and on the question on what motivates him when he already has that gold medal at home he says; “I love working with the horses. It’s equally the same pleasure to work with the young horses as the top horses.” Adding in typically Dermott Lennon-style; “And I need to earn a living.”