JUST nine months after going through major knee surgery, a young Omagh woman has played a starring role in helping an Irish equestrian team capture prestigious silverware in an international competition in Norway.
Back in September last year Jenny Rankin damaged cruciate ligaments after falling off a horse. But four months after an operation, the 23-year-old was back in the saddle and last weekend Jenny, as part of a young four-man Irish team, clinched the 3-star FEI Nations Cup in Drammen.
Fourteen teams took part in the international event but after two rounds it was the Irish team of Ger O’Neill, Susan Fitzpatrick, Shane Carey (Chef d’Equipe), Aidan Killeen and Rankin which stood proudly on top of the podium.
Rankin, riding Deirdre Bourns-owned Bennys Legacy got the Irish off to an excellent start, jumping clear with just a time fault and after the first round was completed Ireland and Norway were level pegging with five faults apiece.
In the second round though Ireland took control after Rankin completed a brilliant performance by jumping clear inside the time and when Killeen and Fitzpatrick both recorded just a single fence down each, Ireland began to take control.
In securing the victory O’Neill then completed his round with just a time fault on his Irish Sport Horse to clinch a magnificent victory ahead of Poland and Norway. It was a memorable triumph and one that has certainly enhanced the growing reputation of Rankin as one of the best young riders in the country.
Despite her outstanding individual performance, the Omagh woman insisted it was very much a team effort.
“Yeah I was happy how I had performed but these competitions are all about the team,” she said.
“We had a young team this year but I was quietly confident that we would do well.”
This coming weekend the same Irish team competes in a similar Nations Cup competition in Denmark and after that the Omagh woman is off to Hamburg, Germany for a 4-star show.
Last year Ireland finished third in Denmark and Rankin, who is based at the stables of Richard and Deirdre Bourns in Belgium, is hoping that lightening will strike twice for her team.
“Last year we finished third which was my first Nations Cup, so yeah we would like to go two better!” she continued.
FULL STORY IN THIS WEEK’S ULSTER HERALD