17 January 2024
~3 minutes read
Two Galway Showjumpers in contention for Leading Rider Award in Connacht
Voting for the Leading International Rider award at the upcoming Connacht Region Awards will close next Wednesday (Jan 24th), with two of the three nominees from Galway. Jessica Burke from Gort and Michael Duffy from Turloughmore are joined in the shortlist by Richard Howley from Enniscrone in Sligo, with the leading rider announced at the awards night on Friday night week in the MacWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris. The following are the bios for the three contenders:
Ireland’s leading lady rider, Galway’s Jessica Burke enjoyed another hugely successful year in 2023. Jessica started the year with wins in the UAE, firstly a 5* win in Abu Dhabi, then taking the 5* Winning Round in Sharjah with Express Trend. This combination would also take the Winning Round in Rabat, Morocco in October as well as a 2nd place finish in the Grand Prix at Rouen. Jessica was a member of three 4 and 5-star Nations Cup teams for Ireland with 2 Podium finishes partnering the mare Nikey HH. Arriving at the 5* RDS Dublin Horse Show in top form she enjoyed 6 top-ten finishes in the International Classes including a win in the Minerva Stakes with Inpulss. A super consistent year saw Jessica take 40 top 10 finishes at 4 and 5-star shows including 8 wins, results which saw her finish the year ranked 111 in the world.
Galway’s Michael Duffy was an important member of Team Ireland on Several Occasions in 2023. No stranger to representing his country, Michael featured on five 4 and 5-star Nations Cup Teams, with 4 podium placings, a highlight being part of the prestigious Aga Khan team at the Dublin Horse Show, finishing second. Shortly afterward the team for the European Championship was named, and the in-form pairing of Michael and Cinca 3 were named, recording a stunning performance to help Ireland to team Silver. This partnership also took 5th in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix at Risenbeck. Michael was also part of the Rome Gladiators team which made it to the quarter-finals of the Longines Global Champions League Finals in Prague as well as a member of team Ireland for the 7-year-old young horse championships in Valkenswaard. other placings included 8th in the Longines Grand Prix of Ireland with Zilton SL 7 as well as 3rd in the LGCT Grand Prix with Che Fantastica and 3rd in the Hamburg Grand Prix with Cantano 32. An incredible year saw Michael ranked 79 in the world at the end of December.
Sligo native Richard Howley started the year as he would finish it with several impressive wins partnering Mansini Ltd, Fame, and Farianne, he also took a 5* win in the Cashel Palace Hotel Stake at the RDS Dublin Horse Show with Equine America Consulent de Prelet Z . As a team member of the Scandinavian Vikings Richard played a pivotal role in securing the team a Semi Final place at the Longines Global Champions League Finals in Prague, also scoring several individual top 10 individual placings along the way at legs in Monte Carlo, La Coruna, Valkenswaard and Rome. It was a Fairytale finish to the year when Howley took wins in not one but two legs of the prestigious Longines World Cup Grand Prix legs, back to back, in Oslo and Helsinki, securing valuable points towards the World Cup Final in April 2024. Howley finished the year ranked 70 in the World.
Full voting details are available on the Showjumping Ireland Connacht Region Facebook page.