Co. Louth’s Mark McAuley was 25,000 euro richer tonight when he piloted his girlfriend’s horse to victory in the five-star Grand Prix at Lyon in France.

Competing against a top class international field, 30 year-old McAuley – who has ridden successfully on several Irish Nations Cup teams this year – was one of 13 to go through to the jump-off tonight from a startlist of 48.

His mount, the 13 year-old grey Miebello, is normally ridden by his Swedish fiancée Charlotte Mordasini, who has had to spend some time out of the saddle this year due to an injury, and McAuley rode the borrowed gelding to a convincing win over the 1m60 track at the five-star show, stopping the clock just over a third of a second faster than runner-up, Switzerland’s top 20 world-ranked Steve Guerdat, with the bay mare Bianca.

France’s Penelope Leprevost placed third in the Grand Prix with the celebrated stallion Vagabond de la Pomme, with the USA’s Lauren Hough in fourth aboard the bay mare Ohlala.

Ireland’s five riders at the French show will get a further chance at prize money, together with valuable ranking points, when the Lyon World Cup competition takes place on Sunday afternoon.

Jack Burns