The SJI Autumn Grand Prix kicked off this weekend as Mullingar Equestrian hosted two rounds of the series.
On Saturday, the 1.35m saw 69 combinations taking on the Alan Wade-designed course. There were joint winners in the opening round, with Sligo’s Richard Kerins and Wicklow’s Brendan Murphy sharing the winner’s share of the €2,000 on offer.
Kerins, who was riding the 10-year-old mare Achonry Carie and Murphy, aboard the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse Immun Ocean Ogara, both stopped the clock, clear in 30.74 seconds.
There was nothing between the next placing as John Floody and the Irish Sport Horse Ballyknock Diamond also produced a clear round in a slower time of 31.01 seconds for third place.
Derek McConnell is proving to be a dominant force on the Underwriting Exchange Grand Prix circuit and he made his mark when claiming fourth place, riding Izzy, as the combination kept the poles in place in a time of 31.65 seconds.
John Floody took another share of the line-up when he partnered the Kevin Thompson and Geralyn Thompson-owned Donevan Erkindale to a clear in 31.81 for fifth place.
Longford’s Robert Harrison and the Robert Fagan owned Ballycarrick Lass completed the top-six line up when he crossed the line clear in 32.19 seconds.
Sunday’s 1.40m Autumn Grand Prix
On Sunday, 48 combinations lined out to contest the 1.40m €6,000 Horse Sport Ireland sponsored class.
With competitors up for the challenge, 11 combinations booked their place against the clock.
Ger O’Neill and Keatingstown Z Wellie Two, who were the fastest of nine double clears in 35.91 seconds, took the win. The Sharon Fitzpatrick owned and bred nine-year-old has proven successful at home and abroad under the guidance of Fitzpatrick and more recently under O’Neill.
Fellow Kilkenny young rider, Séamus Hughes Kennedy took the runner-up spot when he piloted his mother Clare’s eight-year-old, Cuffesgrange Cavadora, a half-sister to the class winner, Keatingstown Z Wellie Two, to a clear in 40.49 seconds.
Third place went to another young rider, Jennifer Kuehnle and Tullibards Miss Optimistic, when they stopped the clock in 41.03 seconds.
Philip Gaw came home in fourth with a clean sheet aboard Ardnacashel Coovella in 42.06 seconds, as did the next placer, Capt. Charlene Kehoe and Shannondale Rahona, who clocked 42.08 seconds.
Kilkenny rider Vincent Byrne delivered a clear with Cocoblue in a time of 42.23 seconds for sixth place.