Billy Twomey and Lizziemary had all the answers in the Longines King George V Gold Cup Cup at Hickstead today when swooping at the finish to claim top spot after a thrilling jump-off, writes Mike Dunne.
Already a winner three times this week, and a member of the Irish nations cup team which shared second place on Friday, Twomey landed the top individual prize in some style after a succession of riders had pushed the target seemingly to the limit. “I’m very proud to be amongst the great names who have won this class,” said the Irish rider, who had followed his brilliant Dublin showing with an even better haul at Hickstead.
Twomey wasn’t alone to carry Irish colours into the decider, as Bertram Allen (Molly Malone V) and Shane Breen (Golden Hawk) also progressed. Ireland’s other two riders in the event, Paul Kennedy (Cartown Danger Mouse) and Anthony Condon (Aristio) missed the cut after four-fault rounds.
The pre-jump-off talk seemed to be all about Allen as the favourite to take the trophy, and he didn’t let his followers down when shooting into the lead. That happened after Britain’s Tim Stockdale (Fleur De L’Aube) had knocked American Katherine Dinan (Nougat Du Vallet) off top spot with a time of 41.91. Allen, as expected set off in chase with Molly, and the spectators’ sense that hopes of a home win were about to end proved well-founded as the Irish rider got his mount safely clear in a new target of 40.25.
It looked like a formidable lead, but it came under threat shortly afterwards from Shane Breen who was zipping around on his nations cup mount Golden Hawk, but the pairing failed to clear the second-last, negating the value of their 38.84 time which was not bettered.
Allen’s lead lasted until Dutch rider Wout-Jan Van Der Schans brought in Capetown and the pairing fired up the crowd again by going clear in 39.92. American Lillie Keenan then produced a storming effort with Super Sox, which fell short by just 0.13 of a second and slotted her into second ahead of Allen.
Last into the affair was Twomey with Lizziemary, and Van Der Schans could only look on as the Irishman added more drama to proceedings. Once again the crowd sensed some magic in the air as the pairing chased around the jump-off course in hot pursuit of the leader, and the venue erupted as they brought the clock to a halt in 39.46 with all obstacles standing.
“I’m delighted with the mare,” said Twomey. “It’s been a bit of a slow process. She’s got her own mind, but I’m delighted with her, absolutely delighted.”
Longines King George V Gold Cup
1. Lizziemary/Billy Twomey (IRL) 0/0 39.46
2. Capetown/Wout-Jan Van Der Schans (NED) 0/0 39.92
3. Super Sox/Lillie Keenan (USA) 0/0 40.05
4. Molly Malone V/Bertram Allen (IRL) 0/0 40.25
5. Fleur De L’Aube/Tim Stockdale (GBR) 0/0 41.91.