Ireland has won it’s second gold and fourth medal in total at the Longines FEI European Youth Championships in France after Carlow’s Jason Foley was this morning (Sunday) crowned European Under 18 (Junior) Show Jumping Champion – bridging a gap of 42 years since Ireland last won European Under 18 Gold.
This brings Ireland’s medal haul at this week’s European Championships to four, with Rhys Williams taking individual Gold in the Under 14 Championship on Saturday, along with team silver for the GAIN-sponsored Irish Under 14 team and a Bronze for the GAIN Irish Under 18 team.
Riding the Martin Egan-owned Irish Sport Horse Castlefield Vegas, Jason Foley jumped his fourth clear round of the week in the first round of this morning’s final to remain in Gold medal position heading into the medal decider. When he entered the arena as last to jump, he knew he could afford one fence down to take the Gold. He picked up four faults midway through his round but he kept his composure to keep finish with just a single fence down and claim the individual gold medal.
Britain’s Oliver Fletcher took silver ahead of Belgium’s Simon Morssinkhof who claimed the bronze. Athlone’s Kate Derwin produced a brilliant performance on the final day, rising 13 places to finish under a fence off a medal in fourth with AHG Whiterock Cruise (ISH), while Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan also made it into the final and finished 23rd overall.
The result crowns a fantastic week for Irish Youth team manager James Kernan, who himself won the Under 18 (Junior) European Gold medal 44 years-ago in 1974 – a result that before today was only repeated once, by Brian McMahon in 1976.
“I am an incredibly proud man today. Jason is just a brilliant horseman and deserves incredible credit for what he has achieved, Kernan said. “There was a great team spirit, we all pulled together and a special mention to Ger O’Neill for all his help with Castlefield Vegas. I have to thank all involved, Liam Buckley and the support staff, parents, sponsors and Horse Sport Ireland, their support meant we could have the best possible preparation. For such a small nation as ours to win four medals at this European Championships is unbelievable and the other nations are looking up to us after our results.”
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy said:
“Huge congratulations to Jason Foley, his family and Martin Egan the owner of Castlefield Vegas. This has been a fantastic European Championships for Irish riders. To claim two individual gold, a team silver and team bronze is an incredible achievement and I must thank and congratulate all involved in making this possible. It has also been a great Championships for Irish breeders. Many of our riders this week were paired with Irish Sport Horses and they have helped deliver these medals.”
Press Release by Horsesport Ireland