An impressive performance from Sally Cunningham saw the Tara Hill rider reclaim the Open and Advanced Open title, which she last won in 2015, at the Connolly’s RED MILLS National Show Jumping Championships last Sunday.
Cunningham, who earlier won the qualifier, was last to go in an eight-way jump-off to decide the spoils. Killossery’s Aoife Maguire, who was fourth in, set the target of 43.18 with all fences standing on Mane Attraction.
Second last to jump, Brian Cassidy, improved on this with a new time of 39.26 on Looks Easy leaving it all down to Cunningham.
The Drumree resident didn’t disappoint and was relentless around the reduced track and crossed the line in a time of 37.29 to claim the spoils on Graf Landlord.
Cunningham was delighted with the win and said afterwards, “Lord was absolutely amazing and I could not have asked anymore from him. We didn’t have much chance to prepare for the championships so we just tipped away at home but Kay Nolan put us through our paces on Friday night beforehand.”
“I was extremely nervous heading into the qualifier, even more so in the final. It was hard not to be against strong competition and an intimidating course but we got there in the end. It was a very strong competition and the courses were big but rode very well. I’m absolutely over the moon with the result, very unexpected,” she added.
Clear rounds were few and far between in the Advanced Intermediate championship final where just four riders made it through to the jump-off.
Pathfinder Thomas Daniels set a target of 35.57 with all fences standing on Barnaboy Jackeen and was followed by Connie Noone who bettered his time on Kilcorban Diamond Flash but returned with two poles on the floor.
Lorraine Trenier went into the lead when Castletara Trendsetter crossed the beam on 33.29 but her lead was short lived when Rebekah Tansey (Brighten Up Your Day) shaved almost 0.80 seconds off her time when the Benbulben rider stopped the clock on 33.29. This left Trenier in the runners-up place for the second year in a row.
Corrib’s Aisling McGrath, who won the qualifier earlier in the day after a twelve-way jump-off, finished in sixth place in the final as the fastest of the four faulters.
The Benbulben club picked up another national title in the Advanced Primary championship where Katherine O’Brien won the title on her recently acquired Oscar.
O’Brien was among four riders who progressed to the jump-off in the final where the Sligo resident was 6.55 seconds off the optimum time to claim the spoils on her 10-year-old skewbald gelding which she only bought in the past three weeks.
Corrib’s Victoria Molloy (Bouncer) jumped the only other clear round to take the runner-up slot ahead of Anne Granahan (Clarina Princess) who had won the qualifier earlier.
The intermediate championship attracted a large entry of almost 70 riders who took part in the qualifier.
Samuel Lydon Glynn, however, won the title after a thrilling eleven-way jump-off in the final. The Corrib rider was second last to jump against the clock and shaved over two seconds off Coolbell’s Fran Mangan who had just set a time of 35.52 on Parkmore Boher Belle.
The Corrib riders time of 33.26 ensured that the championship title headed West to Galway with Mangan having to settle for the blue ribbon on this occasion.
Pamela Steenson, who had earlier won the qualifier on Golden Bready, didn’t feature in the final line-up after the Mullaghmore rider had a pole down.
In the primary championship, Ciara McKeown won the title after she was one of nine double clear rounds in the final. The Castle Hill rider was closest to the optimum time on Carnalynch Snowman with Laura Fitzsimons (Kilronan Duff) in second place with Cheval’s Teresa Ward (Carnelee Boy) taking third place. Ward had earlier won the qualifier earlier in the day.