A young Donegal showjumper has grabbed the show jumping headlines this week with his winning ride in the first Grand Prix of the Irish Showjumping calendar.
Nineteen year-old Kenneth Graham, from the Lenamore Stables in Muff, won the County Louth Grand Prix on Sunday last on board the 10-year-old Orbiting at Belluren, Dundalk.
Kenneth, in his very first Grand Prix on home soil in his very first season at the very top level, saw of the challenge of some of the Ireland’s leading showjumpers including Cian O’Connor and Dermot Lennon. He had competed in two Grand Prix events, both in Lummen in Belgium, earlier in the year, where he had a number of top six finishes.
“It was brilliant to win my first Grand Prix and to win it at home here in Ireland made it even better. The reaction has been good from everyone and I have been receiving plenty of congratulaions since, both from people here in Muff and from people involved in showjumping from all over.” said Kenneth, who has been riding horses since he was a boy.
“It is a good feeling and hopefully I can win a few more now.”
Over the two-day show Kenneth had three clear rounds, one in Saturday’s qualifying round and two on Sunday, in the Grand Prix itself.
“The clear on Saturday qualified me for the competition proper on the Sunday. In the first round I was clear and had the second fastest time.” Only Dermot Lennon was faster than the Donegal teenager.
“I went clear again in the second round and Dermot had one fence down and while there were a number of others with clear rounds too, I had the fastest time and won.”
Orbiting is owned by Willie Lapsley from St Johnston so it was very much a double success for both rider and owner. Kenneth works full-time at the Lenamore Stables and has already set his sights on next month’s Ballmoral Show, which this year runs from the May 14th to May 16th.
Kenneth plans to compete in as many events as possible over the next couple of months and hopes to qualify for the Dublin Horse Show, the premier event in the Irish Show jumping calendar, next August.