Darragh Kenny Bests the Rest During WEF 1

January 11. 2024

Ireland’s Darragh Kenny opened international competition during the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a win in the $32,000 Adequan® CSI3* WEF Challenge Cup Round 1 on Thursday at Wellington International. Kenny and Irwin, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Kannan x Paladin des IFS) owned by HKC Collection LLC, topped a field of 72 horses for the win.  

Kenny had his eye on Irwin since the mount was seven before becoming part of the Irish Olympian’s string last year. The former ride of Danish show jumper Emil Hallundbaek, Irwin is on a steady climb to the top.

Darragh Kenny & Irwin, winners of the $32,000 Adequan® CSI3* WEF Challenge Cup Round 1. Photo © Sportfot

“To be honest, the horse just keeps getting better and better,” he said. “When I bought him he'd never really jumped more than 1.50m. He was still very green but he feels like an incredible horse.”

Irwin didn’t show any inexperience as he carried Kenny to victory by more than a second over courses built by Nick Granat (USA) in WEF’s International Arena. 

Charlotte Jacobs & Rincoola Milsean. Photo © Sportfot

From a large jump-off brimming with horse and rider talent, Kenny stopped the clock over the short course in 36.16 seconds to best runner-up Charlotte Jacobs (USA) on 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Rincoola Milsean, owned by Northstar. Jacobs’ time of 37.84 seconds held for second place while Ireland bookended the podium. Cian O’Connor took third on Fancy de Kergane, a nine-year-old Selle Français stallion owned by Susan Magnier and Coolmore Showjumping, in 38.23 seconds.

Cian O’Connor & Fancy de Kergane. Photo © Sportfot

Eva Castagren stepped up to purchase Irwin on Kenny’s recommendation, but has been watching her horse compete from afar and sat ringside for the first time this week.

“I'm very lucky that she agreed to buy him and he's been incredible ever since, but she’s never seen him in person,” said Kenny, who made their meeting a winning one. “She's been a great supporter of me for years, so to have a fantastic horse like this for both of us is brilliant.”

After this week, Irwin will enjoy a break before making his five-star debut during WEF 5. Kenny’s long-term goals for the gelding include more experience at the five-star level and a possible bid for the FEI World Cup™ Finals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this spring. 

Darragh Kenny & Irwin are presented with the Paul Scriver Perpetual Memorial Trophy by Valerie Arcuri, Southeast Key Account Manager with Adequan®. Photo © Sportfot

For the win, Kenny earned the Paul Scriver Perpetual Memorial Trophy, established in fond memory of horseman Paul Scriver. 

The Adequan® CSI3* WEF Challenge Cup Round 1 was a qualifier for ‘Saturday Night Lights’, which will feature the $140,00 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix at 7pm at Wellington International.


Odette Rises to New Heights in $5,000 Keyflow Feeds USA 3’3” Green Hunter Classic

Nick Haness and Odette, winners of the $5,000 Keyflow Feeds USA 3’3” Green Hunter Classic. Photo © Sportfot

Taking the first-ever victory in the class and the week’s division championship was Nick Haness of Temecula, CA, and the eight-year-old mare Odette, owned by John & Stephanie Ingram, LLC. The pair scored an impressive pair of 90s. 

“Odette is a brand new ride for our team,” said Haness about his new partner. “The Ingram’s bought her last weekend, so I rode her for the first time on Tuesday this week. She’s been an absolutely phenomenal horse to ride at only eight-years-old.”

Nick Haness and Odette are presented as winners of the $5,000 Keyflow Feeds USA 3’3” Green Hunter Classic by Tyler Weith, Business Development Manager for Keyflow. Photo © Sportfot

The mare has come into the season with eyes on the prize after claiming the top tricolor in the 3’ Green Hunter during Premiere Week with former owner Brianne Goutal-Marteau. “She’s already stepped up into the 3’3” this week and we are so amazed by her,” said Haness. “She really showed her bravery coming into this big arena late in the afternoon and conquering a difficult green hunter course. She’s a true champion.” 

Michael Britt-Leon & Private Collection. Photo © Sportfot

Following the winning pair on the leaderboard was Michael Britt-Leon, of Alpharetta, GA, and Private Collection, owned by Kelly Sims. The two scored an 86 and 83.5 for a combined score of 169.5. Sitting in third with a total score of 169 was Wellington’s Keri Kampsen and Idhira, owned by Mary Morgan Hasty, with round scores of 83 and 86. 

Keri Kampsen & Idhira. Photo © Sportfot

“The addition of this class is a great way to get these green horses and even their owners out into the bigger arenas across a more technical course,” said Haness of the new offering in which courses were designed by Danny Moore. “The incorporation of bending lines and tougher questions was a good challenge for these horses, which I think will set them up for success later in the season and future championships.”

Haness and the Ingrams plan on keeping Odette in the 3’3” division for the year, aiming towards possible indoor finals in the fall. As for Haness himself, he will be spending another season competing between his home state of California and in Wellington.

“I have a very busy schedule this year, similar to my season last year going back and forth between Wellington and Thermal,” he said. “I’ve got a great support system on both coasts; human and horse wise. A lot of my horses in California are new to me and up-and-coming, so I think it will be an exciting winter. 

“This win with Odette was a great start,” concluded Haness.