The $35,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stakes opener at the American Gold Cup show in North Salem, New York, saw Ireland’s Richie Moloney claim the runner-up spot and Shane Sweetnam take third place.
US winner Peter Wylde with the 10 year-old bay mare Paloma snatched first place in a time of 61.05, but Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney was hard on his heels with the nine year-old bay stallion Ypaja Yando, coming home in 61.45 seconds.
The close finish at the top of the table also saw Cork’s Shane Sweetnam finish just behind on 61.88 seconds, riding the eight year-old chestnut gelding Main Road.
Though vital qualifiers for the main event will take place over the next few days, all eyes will be directed towards the feature class of the prestigious show, Sunday’s Longines American Gold Cup, part of the World Cup Jumping series, where prize money totals $216,000 (192,000 euro).
Ireland has a sizeable representation at the show. Along with Moloney and Sweetnam, other contenders are Andrew Bourns, Capt. Brian Cournane, Lorcan Gallagher, Darragh Kerins, Kevin McCarthy, Paul O’Shea and Conor Swail.