World of Showjumping
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Darragh Kenny gets a CSI5* win at Desert Holiday 2

Thursday, 07 December 2023
CSI5*/2* Desert International Horse Park 2023

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo Darragh Kenny and California Pie. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.


Edited press release from Desert International Horse Park



Darragh Kenny (IRL) was taken a bit by surprise when he ended up on top of Wednesday’s opening CSI5* class of Desert Holiday 2, presented by Visit Greater Palm Springs. Out of the 41 entries, he and California Pie (Captain Cooper x Ramiro's Son), owned by Oakland Ventures, LLC, cruised to victory in the $76,000CAD CSI5* 1.50m Speed, sponsored by Granite Bay Farm.

“There were some really fast horses and riders behind me so I thought for sure somebody was going to catch me,” Kenny said, after going fourth in the starting order of go over Peter Grant’s single-round track. “My horse jumped great; there were one or two places I didn't take as much risk but he jumped fantastic and stayed really good the whole way around. There were a lot of people faster, they just had one down.”

Specifically, there were six pairs who were faster than Kenny, but the most important factor was clear rounds, of which there were only nine. Erynn Ballard (CAN) found herself on a podium again, this time in second place aboard Gakhir (Spartacus TN x Labor's VDL Indorado), owned by Ilan Ferder. Amy Millar (CAN) and Truman (Mylord Carthago x Colibri), owned by Millar Brooke Farm & Overland, took third place.

“I was really happy,” Kenny said about his win Wednesday. “I was not expecting it at all but he jumped great. I thought I could go quick and try to stay smooth and it turned out that it paid off.”

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo Darragh Kenny and California Pie in their winning presentation, pictured with Lindsay Stefanko and Katie Hauss of Granite Bay Farm. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.

California Pie is an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding that has already taken top FEI placings with Kenny in the irons, but they had still been seeking their first FEI win together. “He has a big stride so I can do all the leave-outs easily,” Kenny said of where the natural speed came in. “I didn’t go crazy but I just went at a good speed, and if it held up great and if it didn’t then I was still going to be very happy with how he jumped.”

Confidence is a great thing to have going into a weekend like the one planned for Desert Holiday 2. With two CSI5* events under the lights once again, Kenny has his eye on both prizes.

“I’m going to jump this horse in the [$221,700CAD CSI5* Classic Saturday night] so it’s great to have that confidence going in and with him feeling as good as he does,” he remarked. “I was second last Saturday in the two-star Grand Prix with him so it was nice to get a win this week. It just puts you in a good mood for the whole week.”

One of the prizes is the overall season title for Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ), which will be decided after Saturday night’s $571,000CAD CSI5* MLSJ Team Final, complete with team bonuses that brings the prize money to $1 million.

“I think we’re in a quite solid position with three really good people that will jump Saturday night,” Kenny said of the roster for the Trelawny Trailblazers, who have a strong lead in the season standings. “I’ll ride the same horse as last week, Lillie [Keenan] will ride her same horse as last week, and Nayel [Nassar] will ride on the team this week. He’s been a key part of winning two or three of these team classes already, so I think we have a good solid team. We’re in a good position so we just have to keep it together.”

Time will tell whether Kenny will be on the podium yet again before the week comes to a close, but having the extra confidence on his side can only be a positive.


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