It was a podium reserved for the Irish on Sunday, October 9 as Darragh Kerins, Shane Sweetnam, and Daniel Coyle claimed the top three spots in the $100,000 Lugano Diamonds 1.50m Grand Prix CSI3*, presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, to conclude two weeks of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition at the Lugano Diamonds Split Rock Jumping Tour’s (SRJT) Split Rock Fall II CSI3*. Kerins led the way from start to finish, capturing the victory aboard Eve Jobs' Valentino Tuiliere (Diamant de Semilly x Silvio). His blazing finish time of 38.49 seconds clocked in more than half a second ahead of Sweetnam with his own, Seabrook LLC, and Spy Coast Farm, LLC’s Alejandro (Acorado's Ass X Continue) in second place, and over a full second in front of Coyle with Jeffrey Jarden (Bustique x Warrant), owned by Ariel Grange, in third.
Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) 16-effort first-round track set in the Walnut Ring of the Kentucky Horse Park saw several competitors accumulate faults through its triple combination (oxer-oxer-vertical), while eight pairs produced the coveted clear effort.
Kerins entered first for the jump-off, choosing to complete a somewhat risky inside turn in front of an unused obstacle to set the pace with his 38.49-second time. Luis Francisco De Azevedo (BRA) would immediately follow to prove the winning time beatable as he and Nashville crossed the timers in 37.78 seconds, but with one fence down in the rollback, he would slide behind Kerins. Coyle and Sweetnam challenged soon after, but were unable to match the pace finishing with respective times of 39.63 and 39.09 seconds. Rowan Willis (AUS) followed Sweetnam, proving fastest of all with an unmatchable finish in 37.26 seconds aboard Wellington Grey Goose, but the same fence in the tight turn would knock him into a fifth-place finish with De Azevedo in sixth, as Martien Van Der Hoeven (USA) and Morris Horta conservatively produced the only other double-clear effort for fourth place.
“For the last few months, this horse has just been jumping unbelievable, but I always end up just short in second or third [place],” said Kerins of the 13-year-old Selle Français gelding that he twice rode to second place in the $50,000 BetHorseSports.com 1.45m Welcome CSI3* during each week of this year's fall series. “The horse really deserved the win today.”
Following the conclusion of the event in Lexington, Kentucky, the tour will head to Aiken, South Carolina, for the Split Rock Aiken CSI2* from November 9-13. It will then travel to its penultimate stop in Fort Worth, Texas, with the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Fort Worth CSI4*-W before the finale in Sarasota, Florida, which will host the $300,000 Split Rock Championship Series in January 2023.