Biographies of the five Irish riders selected for the Samsung Nations Cup squad who will compete for the Aga Khan Trophy at the Kerrygold Dublin Horse Show on Friday, August 10.
Formerly known as Jessica Chesney, she has had many successful team outings with the Irish-bred Diamond Exchange, but is now well into her second season with her new Grand Prix horse, Paavo N
She has been a notable presence on the Irish team, and took individual glory at Hickstead in '99, where she became the third Irishwoman ever to win the coveted Queen Elizabeth Cup.
Originally from Cullybackey in Co. Antrim, and a former top pony rider, Jessica is now based in Germany. Her most notable successes up until August last year had been as a member of the winning Irish Nations Cup team at Modena, and the team which came Third in the hotly-contested Aachen Nations Cup, thereby cementing Ireland's lead in the Samsung Nations Cup series.
She was then selected as a member of the team which subsequently won the Nations Cup at the Kerrygold Horse Show in Dublin last year, bringing the tally of Irish Nations Cup wins to eight in the 99/2000 series, an unrivalled achievement in the country's long equestrian history.
Later in 2000, Jessica was selected for the Irish team at Spruce Meadows, Calgary, where her spectacular double clear helped the young Irish team win a record-breaking tenth Nations Cup in September, thus clinching Ireland's place as outright winner of the Samsung Nations Cup Series 99/2000.
Jessica last year signed up with new sponsors, Aegon, and flying under her new banner won the BCM Team Championships at Dusseldorf CSI-A in October of 2000, and also took a very respectable Third in the Dusseldorf Grand Prix, riding Paavo N.
This year (April 2001) Jessica took First Place in the coveted Aegon MoneyMaxx Masters Final, winning a car, at the Monte Carlo CSI-A.
Riding <Bonita 38>, she went clear in four jump-offs.
In June, she was on the Irish team which came a close second at the Modena Nations Cup, and then a few weeks later shared Irish team glory in the Senior European Show Jumping Championships, also on <Bonita>, followed by victory in the Lummen Nations Cup in July. Jessica has now been selected for the Irish Nations Cup team at the Kerrygold Horse Show in August.
Thirty-two year old Dermott Lennon only had his first international season in 1999, but, like many of the other Irish <young guns>, soon showed his mettle by jumping a double clear in Athens in October of that year, thus helping to win Ireland's first Nations Cup in the 99/2000 series.
After a few CSI-Cs during April and May of 2000, Dermott jumped in the Irish Nations Cup team which took Third at Lucerne in June, and also took an individual class Third there on the Irish Sport Horse, <Garronturton Lady>.
Dermott also was a member of the Irish squad which snatched victory from Britain at the Anglo-Irish Challenge at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May of 2000, winning the Hallowe'en Cup.
A native of Banbridge, County Down, in Northern Ireland, Dermott jumped in the winning Irish Nations Cup Team at Lummen in July of 2000, and then beat Britain's Nick Skelton into second place in the Pavilion Premier competition at the CSI-A in Great Leighs, Essex, the same month.
Dermott took Second Place in the Traxdata Speed Class at Hickstead last year, and at the same venue was a member of the team which won Ireland's Sixth Nations Cup victory of 2000, jumping a double clear in the process.
Selected for the Dublin Kerrygold Horse Show in August, he again was a member of the winning Irish Nations Cup team, and was once more on the team in Rotterdam, where he jumped two spectacular clear rounds - picking up just half a time fault - to help clinch Ireland's ninth Nations Cup victory in the 99/2000 Samsung series.
Dermott followed this at Spruce Meadows, Calgary, in September, when he was a member of the record-breaking Irish team which won an unprecedented Tenth Nations Cup.
He also took fourth place with <Liscalgot> in one of the richest competitions in international show jumping, the $800,000 Du Maurier International at Calgary in September of 2000. For his place, he picked up prize money of $65,000 (approximately IR£40,000). This was added to the $25,000 (approximately IR£15,000) he won with a First Place in the American Airlines competition at Calgary, riding <Garronturton Lady>.
Dermott was again selected to represent Ireland in October 2000 at the prestigious Samsung Nations Cup World Final in Rome, where the team finished in Fourth place.
This year, Dermott has once again distinguished himself, first when he snatched the prestigious Modena Grand Prix held at the Pavarotti Horse Show in Italy, and prize money of £55,000 (35 million lira), and then again at Arnhem in June, where he was a member of the Irish team which won the Senior European Show Jumping Championships, for the first time in the country's history.
Dermott followed this up with a Second in the Geesteren Grand Prix, and was a member of the victorious Irish Nations Cup team in Lummen in July.
His horses are Dow Jones Courcel and the Irish Sport Horses Garronturton Lady and Liscalgot, the last two being his main Nations Cup mounts.
He has already won the Refco Speed Grand at Hickstead last month on <Garronturton Lady>, was Third at the same venue in the British Grand Prix, and his clear finishing round on <Liscalgot> was decisive in winning Ireland the British Nations Cup for the second year in a row.
Dermott will be on the Nations Cup squad at Dublin in August.
A native of Carrick-on-Suir in the very south of Ireland, 32 year-old Kevin Babington earned his spurs under the tutelage of the legenday Iris Kellett, then moved to the United States to take up what has proved to be a very successful professional show jumping career.
Currently running a yard in New Jersey that boasts over 50 horses, Kevin is a household name on the American show circuit, but up until recently, was almost unknown in Europe.
He was Leading Rider at 1999's World Cup Show in New York, and took Fifth Place in the World Cup Qualifier there. Remarkably, this is only his second year in Europe on an Irish Nations Cup team, and he was a surprise replacement for Peter Charles at Aachen in 2000, where he distinguished himself on a team that took Third Place overall in a very hotly-contested competition.
Both his main horses are Irish. Carling King is by Clover Hill, and Cruise Missile by the famous stallion Cruising, who retired to stud last year after a long and remarkable international career.
After his Aachen appearance, Kevin earned a place on the Irish team which contested the Nations Cup at Hickstead in July, where, against all the odds, they took the trophy from the British on their home turf.
He was also named as First Reserve rider for the Irish team at the Kerrygold Nations Cup in Dublin in August, and is now a household name in Ireland after his long absence from European competition.
In September, Kevin had the honour of representing Ireland at Spruce Meadows, Calgary, where the young Irish team took a record-breaking tenth Nations Cup, thus clinching Ireland's place as outright winner of the Samsung Nations Cup Series 99/2000.
Kevin then flew back from the US in October to represent Ireland again in the prestigious Samsung Nations Cup World Final at the Piazza di Siena in Rome, where the Irish team finished Fourth.
This year (2001) he returned in some style to steal the show at Modena with a superb double clear at Modena CSIO where Ireland came a close Second, and then went on to help Ireland win, for the first time, the Senior European Show Jumping Championships at Arnhem, in June. In July Kevin was a member of the victorious Irish Nations Cup team at Lummen in Belgium.
He was selected not only for the Irish squad at Hickstead but also the Kerrygold Nations Cup team in Dublin in August.
His 16 faults in the British Nations Cup last month was uncharacteristic, and his win at the prestigious British Grand Prix at Hickstead on <Carling King> was perhaps more typical of Kevin's ability to rise to the big occasion.
The former European Show Jumping Champion has been a valuable addition to the Irish Squad since he joined them in the early 90s, following a successful international career with the British side. Since then he has been the backbone of the Irish team, and has seen Ireland progress to Nations Cup wins last year at Aachen, Dublin, Rotterdam and Calgary, and then the Irish Nations Cup win in Modena's Four Star CSIO.
Peter took Sixth Place in the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas in April, 2000, where he also came joint Second in the World Cup Final League. He took a Speed Class at Bologna in February of the same year, a Grand Prix at s'Hertgenbosch in March, was Third in the World Cup Qualifier in Dortmund, and took First Place in the International Grand Prix on the last day of the new Great Leighs CSIA in Essex in July, 2000.
Peter was also on the Irish team which took Third Place in the hotly-contested Aachen Nations Cup in July, and which helped to secure Ireland's place at the top of the Nations Cup rankings.
Perhaps his finest performance last year came when he jumped last for Ireland at the Kerrygold Horse Show, Dublin, in August, knocking just one fence, and thereby securing for the Irish team not only the coveted Aga Khan Trophy, but also the eighth Nations Cup win in the 99/00 Samsung series, helping to secure for Ireland the Nations Cup Series, with a total of ten wins out of 14 competitions in which they competed.
In 2001, Peter's most shining moment so far was to be on the Irish team that won, for the first time, the European Senior Show Jumping Championships at Arnhem in June.
However, Peter has also had several other successes on the international circuit in 2001, including being a member of the Irish Nations Cup team which came a very close second to Germany at St. Gallen in Switzerland in June. He was second in the La Baule Grand Prix in May, but won the French Derby at the same venue.
He had a clear and a four fault round in the Nations Cup at Hickstead last month on <Corrada>, helping to win the Prince of Wales Cup for Ireland for the second year in succession.
At just 21 years of age, Cian O'Connor from Johnstown in Co. Kildare is one of Ireland's brightest hopes in show jumping, and also one of the new squad of <young guns> who swept all before them in Europe during the 2000 season.
Riding since the age of 14, Cian distinguished himself as an Irish Young Rider - coming Fifth in the European Championships in 1997, and winning the Young Rider European Grand Prix in Portugal in '98 - and then erupted onto the senior field in 1999 as a member of the winning Nations Cup team in Athens. He also clocked up two international wins at Millstreet.
Last year, his achievements included two international Speed Class wins in the Spanish Sunshine Tour, followed by individual and team glory in Berlin, Eindhoven and Helsinki, where he was a member of the winning Nations Cup team that also went on to take two more Nations Cups for Ireland in Falsterbo and Drammen. He also was a member of the winning Irish Nations Cup team at Hickstead in July.
Last year he competed for Ireland on seven Nations Cup teams, and this year he has maintained a high performance record. He won the opening Grand Prix of the Irish season at Sutton, and in Europe took high placings at classes in Modena and Eindhoven before riding a stunning clear round on his relatively inexperienced second mount <Irish Independent Casper> at the Nations Cup in Aachen in July, which earned him a place on Ireland's Falsterbo Nations Cup team, where he once again did the business by riding a double clear on <Waterford Crystal>, helping Ireland to a First Place.
He was selected to represent his country not only at Hickstead, but also at the Kerrygold Horse Show, where he is Fifth Man on the squad for the prestigious Aga Khan Trophy. This is his first selection for the Dublin Nations Cup competition.
At Hickstead, he was on the winning Irish Nations Cup team last month, riding <Waterford Crystal>, and had four faults and eight faults in his two rounds.