Big blow for Ireland as Kenny and Thompson dissolve partnership

The news that Ireland’s Darragh Kenny will no longer compete the brilliant string of horses owned by America’s Ann Thompson sent a shudder through the sport today. The 32-year-old Offaly native has risen to the no. 7 spot in the Longines World Rankings, thanks in no small part to the calibre of horses provided by his US patron, but in a statement today said he understands her decision to withdraw her support.

The statement issued by Jump Media reads:

Irish show jumping athlete Darragh Kenny and owner Ann Thompson of the United States have announced the formal dissolution of their partnership.

For the past three years, Kenny has competed with several horses owned by Thompson at the international level including Balou de Reventon; Classic Dream; Important de Muze; and Romeo 88.  She also owns Gelano and the promising seven-year-old young horse, Delta de la Rasse.

Darragh Kenny and Ann Thompson’s Classic Dream, winners of the $213,300 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ at Deeridge Farms in Wellington, USA in February 2020. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

“With the COVID-19 outbreak having such a huge toll here in America, I explained to Darragh that it was important for me personally to reorganize my level of involvement in the sport horse industry and concentrate on my work with animals in need,” said Thompson.  “I do not plan on leaving the sport completely, but it is time for an evaluation of my priorities.  Darragh understands my passion, and I appreciate his support for my decision.

“It has been a pleasure to support him, and to get to know the people in his circle, especially his parents whom I adore,” continued Thompson.  “Of course, I feel the sadness that comes with the ending of any meaningful partnership, but I will always have the great memories of Darragh’s accomplishments on my horses.  Darragh was not only my rider but a friend.  I’m lucky to still have my friend.”

Kenny said, “Over the last few weeks, Ann has explained to me that her priorities have changed, and that she wishes to focus on her foundation work rescuing horses.  While I am terribly disappointed as we’ve had such a fabulous partnership, I do understand.  Anyone who knows Ann will be aware of how passionate she is about animal rescue.  I am immensely grateful to Ann for everything she has done for me over the years, and I will miss her and her horses very much.  I wish her only the best and will always value our friendship.” (End statement)

BARCELONA, SPAIN – OCTOBER 06: (L-R) Paul O’Shea, Peter Moloney, Team Manager Rodrigo Pessoa, Darragh Kenny and Cian O’Connor of Ireland celebrate on the podium following their victory in the final competition during Day 4 of Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final at Real Club de Polo de Barcelona on October 06, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

Together with America’s Hardin Towell, Kenny operates Oaklands Stables which has its European base in Meijel, The Netherlands. Riding Thompson’s brilliant stallion, Balou du Reventon, Kenny was a member of the Irish team that memorably secured a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with victory at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.