Ireland’s Michael Duffy produced two notable clear rounds to take third place in the five-star Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead this afternoon.

The Galway-born 22 year-old was one of three Irish riders to contest the trophy in less than ideal weather conditions, but the only one to make it through to the jump-off.

Shane Breen and CFS Vendi Cruz had one fence down in the first round, as did last year’s Cup winner, David Simpson on Unex Cognac IV, who agonisingly went clear until the last fence on the course.

Duffy, however, never looked less than confident, and when third-last to jump of the eight who made it through to the second round, briefly took the lead with the chestnut stallion EFS Top Contender in a time of 34.34 seconds.

However, the concluding two British riders then produced faster rounds, runner-up Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker by just a fifth of a second, but winner Harriet Nuttall in a more convincing fashion, knocking almost two seconds off Duffy’s time to claim the trophy.

Hickstead’s Grand Prix – the King George V Gold Cup – takes place on Sunday afternoon.

Jack Burns