Millstreet International Horse Trials kicks off today with the first horse inspection in Co. Cork, Ireland, marking yet another milestone with the addition of CCI3* and CCI2* divisions at this year’s event.
Last year’s inaugural horse trials debuted Mike Etherington-Smith’s new cross country course, which you can read about in detail here. Built across 300 rolling acres, the course flows around Drishane Castle, a 72-foot high fortified stone tower house built in the 15th century that sets a spectacular scene for the event.
A strong international field has traveled to contest this year’s event, including Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville, Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby, and Kylie Lyman and Lup the Loop for the U.S. Coach David O’Connor highlighted Millstreet as a new targeted competition for Team USA in 2016, and both Sinead and Lillian received Land Rover USEF Competition Grants to make the trip.
While Sinead and Lillian were both initially entered in the CCI3*, with Kylie in the CIC3*, Sinead told EN today that she ultimately decided to extend her trip in Europe and will now compete in the CIC3* at Millstreet instead before going on to the CCI3* at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials with “Tate” next month.
“Realizing this was a possibility really got me thinking I’m very lucky to have a horse like Tate, and with him getting older if I can get the experience of two overseas competition in one trip it would be amazing,” Sinead said. “This logistically was a bit of a nightmare for our USEF Eventing Director Joanie Morris, but as the true rockstar she is she has made everything work.”
Lillian and LCC Barnaby will now be the sole U.S. representatives in the CCI3* field and trot up at 6 p.m. local time, 1 p.m. EST this afternoon. Sinead, Lillian and Kylie all do their dressage tomorrow morning, with Sinead and Kylie show jumping in the evening. Click here for a full look at the entries, ride times and schedule at Millstreet.
Based on their recent form, the U.S. crew is poised to perform well at Millstreet. Sinead and “Tate,” a 16-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by the Manoir de Carneville Syndicate, are coming off a dominant Advanced win at Millbrook Horse Trials earlier this month.
LCC Barnaby, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Lillian owns, completed his first four-star at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event this spring and will compete in his third career CCI3* at Millstreet.
Though Lup the Loop is a young horse at 8 years old, the Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Joan Nichols delivered an impressive performance in his CCI3* debut with Kylie at Bromont in June, finishing second on 54.2. A prep run at the CIC3* at Millstreet will position him well for a competitive performance in the CIC3* 8/9-year-old division at Blenheim next month.
We’re also be cheering for a fourth U.S. rider at Millstreet, with Irish-based American Brianne Stanley and her homebred Bit of Business competing in the CIC2*. This 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare owned by Eleanor Hadden stepped up to the two-star level at Cappoquin last month.
The U.S. contingent will have a flat school later today with Coach David O’Connor, who arrives in Ireland this afternoon, and they will also take their first look at the cross country course. Sinead said the horses all traveled beautifully and have settled in well in Ireland, which has been enjoying sunshine and warmer weather this week.
“The venue is a large complex right in the middle of the town of Millstreet, with the stabling and arenas on one side of the street and the cross country and castle on the other — two very different feels in a close proximity,” Sinead said. “The staff and stewards here have been wonderful, and as an added perk there is wifi in all the barns.”
Tadhg Ryan and the wonderful Millstreet media team will be posting tons of photos on the event’s Facebook page all weekend long, so be sure to give them a “like” to keep up with the competition. Keep scrolling down on this post to see a photo tour of the cross country course, plus a beautiful drone video that gives a bird’s eye view of the venue.
EN will be following along with all the action at Millstreet on what is a very busy weekend for eventing around the world. We’re also covering Richland Park Horse Trials in Michigan and the penultimate leg of the Event Rider Masters series at Blair Castle in Scotland, so keep it locked on EN for all your eventing news. Go Eventing.