In an all-Irish podium finish, Darragh Kenny piloted Amsterdam 27 to clinch victory in the $385,000 Fidelity Investments® CSI5* Grand Prix during the first of four five-star weeks during ‘Saturday Night Lights’ at Wellington International’s 13-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The win ended a nearly two-year drought of five-star grand prix victories for the Irish Olympian.
Clear rounds were hard to come by early in the evening as course designer Gregory Bodo (FRA), who has been tapped as the builder for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris this summer, tested the riders.
Leading the way from the third position in the original order, Jordan Coyle (IRL) cracked the code with 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding For Gold (For Fashion x S-Heralda) for owner Falkirk Farm. Five more would follow on clears, including the likes of U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington, up-and-coming U.S. talent Natalie Dean, fellow Irishmen Cian O’Connor and Kenny, and Belgian Olympian Nicola Philippaerts.
In the end, the Irish flag flew high for Kenny and Amsterdam 27, a 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Catoki x Acord II) he owns together with Vlock Show Stables, LLC. They stopped the clock at 38.66 seconds hoping it was enough to hold off Farrington as the last to go. A rail fell for the U.S. rider and left the victory to Kenny.
“It’s a great result for all the Irish riders,” admitted Kenny, 36. “I think we work very hard when we’re here, and we try very hard to win always. Tonight really showed that we can do it when we need to.
“He’s an absolutely incredible horse; he’s the most talented animal I’ve ever sat on,” said Kenny of Amsterdam 27, the former Pan-American Games mount of Canada’s Mario Delauriers and Olympic mount of Kenny’s student and owner Teddy Vlock. “He’s quality, scopey, smart, and has the ability to win anything. I just have to stay out of his way and let him do his thing.”