Twenty-two year old Galway rider Michael Duffy took first place in tonight’s five-star speed class under floodlights at Valence in France.

With maximum fence height set at 1m50, Duffy was 25th to jump in a field of 30, and piloted the 12 year-old bay stallion Millfield Ultymate through the beam in a time of 64.74, fastest in the class at that time.

Ireland’s Michael Duffy

Duffy then had to wait for a list of top international riders to challenge his lead – including Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano, Britain’s Laura Renwick, France’s Simon Delestre, Irish fellow-countryman Shane Breen and even World No. 1, the USA’s Kent Farrington – but Millfield Ultymate’s time proved impossible to equal, with previous leader, France’s Edward Levy and the mare Rafale d’Hyverniere, finally taking second place, almost three seconds adrift of the Irish combination.

Duffy picked up 7,500 euro for his win tonight, and will be looking forward to a much bigger prize pot available in Sunday’s Valence Grand Prix.

Jack Burns