Kildare’s Derek Mc Connell became the 2020 Underwriting Exchange Grand Prix Champion today at Wexford Equestrian after finishing fourth in the final round of the popular series. Although the title was still up for grabs going into the final, with O’Meara and Finnerty not featuring in the line-up, McConnell had it won by booking a place in the six-way jump-off. In the end, he claimed the league on a total of 47 points, nine points ahead of his closest rival. The former Army Equitation rider is based in Longfield Farm in Rathangan, County Kildare.
Speaking after the class, McConnell said; “It is hugely satisfying to win the national title, both as a professional rider and as some one who has produced this horse from a three-year-old up to this level. I always knew he was a special horse and I would like to thank the Hennessy’s for buying him. For such a young horse he has achieved so much and I don’t think that many eight-year-olds has won the title. I would like to also thank my wife Sharon and my groom Saara Suntio for their help and support”.
Owned by Tom and Sorcha Hennessy and bred by P J Kearns, Dothraki Warlord is an eight-year-old gelding by Mermus R (KWPN) out of the Diamant De Semilly (SF) sired dam, Tiamo Diamant (SF). Mc Connell has produced Dothraki Warlord from a three-year-old and have had a successful partnership at all levels.
Claiming the runner-up spot in the league was Jonathan Smyth and Crystal Tom, while third place in the league went to Liam O’ Meara and Curraghgraigue Jack Take Flight.
A prize of €1,000 was won by the owners, Tom and Sorcha Hennessy.
Claiming the final leg was Paul Beecher and Ikona V.'T Recht Eind, when as first to go they lodged the winning round of clear in 35.67 seconds. Owned by Paul’s wife Seryna Van Kuelen, the 12-year-old Belgian bred mare is by Deauville De La Vie and out of Butterfly Vd Ruitershoeve.
Second last to go, Jason Higgins wasted no time with the Cynthia Murphy owned Dondoctro Ryal K, but despite a series of tight turns, a clear in 36.25 would only prove good enough for second place.
Young rider Jennifer Kuehnle (YR) also put in a faultless performance with the Thomas Meagher and Hans Jurgen Kuehnle owned Tullibards Miss Optimistic, but their time of 36.89 would see her take third place in the line-up.
Second to go against the clock, Derek Mcconnell set off in a determined pace with Dothraki Warlord and a clear in 40.54 saw him slot into fourth place.
Tholm Keane proved out of luck when he had one on the floor with Caroline Teltsch & Paula Buckley’s BMH Big Time, but his time of 40.80 saw him fill fifth place.
Last to go, Paul Beecher returned with Glamstone, but his decision to retire mid-way through the course, meant a sixth-place finish for him.