Equestrianism: Chesney makes her point: Top Irish rider dropped for Calgary

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The Independent Online
JESSICA CHESNEY'S victory in yesterday's Silk Cut Tankard, on the opening day of the Derby meeting, gave her a prize of pounds 1,500. Though the cheque was welcome enough, it did serve to rub salt in the wound over her omission from the Irish team who compete in Calgary in two weeks' time.

Chesney, 24, was the leading woman and the best of the Irish riders when finishing 10th at the World Equestrian Games in The Hague on Diamond Exchange earlier this month. But, because she has only one international horse, the Irish selectors have chosen four others (Gerry Mullins, John Ledingham, Peter Charles and Eddie Macken) for the lucrative meeting in Canada.

The Calgary Grand Prix carries a world-record first prize of pounds 110,000 and Chesney believes Diamond Exchange would be capable of winning it - if only he were given the chance. Such riches would give the unsponsored Co Antrim rider the wherewithal to add to her string of horses.

Meanwhile, Diamond Exchange, a giant of more than 18 hands, continues to give an enthusiatic answer to every question she asks of him. 'That was just a hack for him,' Chesney said, after yesterday's win on the 11-year-old gelding.

Chesney defeated Sarah Bowen, the 20-year-old daughter of David Bowen who finished sixth in the same contest. Sarah was riding Yorkshire Gent, her partner since the end of February, who lives up to his name by being 'a real gentleman'. She hopes to qualify the horse for Monday's Silk Cut Derby - the first she will have competed in - when she rides him in today's Derby Trial.

Chesney, who won the trial two years ago and was fifth in the derby itself, will have another attempt at lifting the pounds 35,000 first prize on Monday with her great horse.

Geoff Luckett, who won the later Silk Cut Challenge, has two possible partners in Everest Tout Espoir and Vantage. The eight-year-old French-bred Tout Espoir, owned by the Belgian dealer, Francois Mathy, was Luckett's successful mount yesterday.

SILK CUT DERBY MEETING (Hickstead): Silk Cut Tankard: 1 Diamond Exchange (J Chesney, Irl) clear, 49.73sec; 2 Yorkshire Gent (S Bowen, GB) clear, 52.30; 3 Lahorna Queen (G Mangan, Irl) clear, 52.80. Silk Cut Challenge: 1 Everest Tout Espoir (G Luckett, GB) 44.01sec; 2 Goliath (R Runge, Ger) 44.85; 3 Blue Bird (J Popely, GB) 46.19.

(Photograph omitted)

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