One year on and Laura Finnegan is in a much happier place after the Border Counties rider won the Advanced Primary title at the Connolly’s Red Mills sponsored AIRC National Show Jumping Championships on Sunday.
Finnegan, who suffered a back injury last year, only returned to the saddle earlier this year and went on to win the national title after a three-way jump-off.
Under a new format this year, riders had to jump two rounds over two different tracks with those equal on penalties for first place, jumping-off for the honours.
Finnegan was among three riders through to the jump-off for the optimum time but the Annyalla resident was closest to the time with all fences standing after Greenacres Buddy L’Rue, a 17 year chestnut gelding, crossed the line in a time of 44.23, just under the target of 45 seconds.
Laura was delighted with the win and said afterwards, “ Buddy is very competitive against the clock so the nice flowing courses for each of the three rounds suited him well. The format this year was very fair, giving every competitor a great chance to be in the placings.”
“Having just returned in May this year from a serious back injury which happened at the championships last year, I was very apprehensive about the show but Buddy give me great confidence on the day and we are both looking forward to more jumping for the rest of the year with the aim of moving up to intermediate,” she added.
The Monaghan club also filled the runners-up slot after Kirsten Winsrg produced a clear on Cavalier Bobby Jo in a time of 46.87. Miriam Kenna completed the podium on Kennas Cappagh Warrior in third place, they were previously runners-up in 2012.
The Lakelands club in Cavan had a successful outing at the championships after two members won two of the five titles on offer.
In the Intermediate division, 17 of the 65 starters were level with a clean sheet over Seamus Casey’s track but this was reduced to just five after Alan Lynch’s course took its toll in the second round.
Lisa Kane came out on top after the Redhills resident crossed the line clear in a time of 36.48 on Riversdale Jessie, a 22-year-old bay mare. Her time was beaten by David Molly who stopped the clock on 35.35 but with two poles on the floor the Kilrainy rider was left in fourth place behind Brian Tully who gave it everything on The Dromahaire Dodger for Lakelands in second on 45.56. Carne’s Isabelle Rouviere took the yellow ribbon on Banner Lucky after the Carne member returned with one pole down in 37.36.
The Lakelands club picked up its second national title in the Primary Championship where Caroline O’Reilly claimed the spoils on Lus Na Meala Ruby Tuesday. The ten-year-old skewbald mare crossed the beam in a time of 44.09 giving the Cavan resident a narrow winning margin over Catriona Egan who had to settle for second place on Blue Warrior. The Mosstown rider was just 0.05 seconds off the winning margin.
O’Reilly said after,” It was a great competition with fabulous atmosphere. My horse ruby was amazing but the sunshine suited us as she never put a foot wrong. The courses were strong and challenging but out luck was in thankfully.”
Sheena Kerr Mc Nally had better luck this year in the Advanced Intermediate Championship as the Castle Leslie rider improved on her sixth place last year to win the title on this occasion.
The Armagh based rider jumped one of three double clear rounds to force a jump-off where the Castle Leslie rider came out on top. Kerr Mc Nally riding her 11-year-old, Pegasus, proved unbeatable as her time of 43.61 could not be matched. Aine Mc Loughlin was closest to the time after the Mosstown rider registered a time of 46.68 but her eight-year-old Connemara left a pole on the floor to take third place behind Devil Bit’s Donal Kenneally (Killea Treacle) who was clear in a time of 55.94.
Kerr Mc Nally said afterwards, “I am very competitive and when I knew I was in the jump-off, I walked around the arena looking at where I could shave those extra seconds and if it was safe to take the turn I did to the last fence. I was last to go and I didn’t watch the other two as I had in my own head what I wanted to do and thankfully it all paid off.”
“I wasn’t sure if I would be able to compete as he picked up an injury at a recent event but he felt good on Friday. The surface in Mullingar is amazing so that helped a lot,” she added.
Two riders made it through to the jump-off in the Open and Advanced Open division where Cassandra Mc Gee jumped the only third round clear of the competition. The Donegal Gaeltacht rider, who was first to jump, set a time of 53.58 with all fences intact. Christine Keymour tried valiantly on Moon Boots but the Carne rider returned with two fences on the floor to secure the blue ribbon for the Wexford based club.
The Donegal Gaeltacht rider also won the Young Horse competition on Well Dun Welby who finished on a total of 4 penalties. Clonshire’s Emily Vial was next best on Futurama who picked up 16 penalties over the two rounds.