Co Waterford’s Francis Connors has been crowned Connolly’s RED MILLS Munster Grand Prix league champion for the fourth time in the last five years, the Kill native topping the league table after a third-place finish with Capitol Cruis in the final round at Banteer Gymkhana in Co Cork on Sunday.
2017 Connolly’s RED MILLS Munster Grand Prix league champions Francis Connors and Capitol Cruis
Just five points separated league leader Connors and Timmy Doyle in second heading into the final. Doyle and JS Bucks saw their chance of overtaking Connors end when they picked up four faults in the first round and with 15 combinations jumping clear to make it into the jump-off, they couldn’t add to their total of 35 league points.
The final round saw victory on the day going to Aglish Co Waterford-born Tholm Keane. A hugely competitive jump-off saw Keane and the Diarmuid Hurley-owned nine-year-old mare Future Storm cross the line clear in 42.28 seconds to take the win.
Keane was triple-handed in the jump-off but left it until his last mount to post the winning round:
“It took me a long time to get it right,” Keane joked, In fairness to Future Storm she is exceptionally fast and if you get a good line and a good shot at the fences she is normally there or thereabouts.”
Tralee’s Maura Counihan and Killerisk Minnie finished close behind in second with a time of 42.52. Francis Connors and Capitol Cruis celebrated being crowned league champions by finishing third on the day when clear in 43.23, while Connors also finished fourth with Newmarket Clare Lady (45.32). Another Waterford rider finished fifth, with Cappagh’s Gemma Phelan guiding GRC Acapella to a clear in 46.00, while Tipperary’s Liam O’Meara finished sixth with Mr Coolcaum (46.71).
Francis Connors and Capitol Cruis finished the season with a total of 47 points and afterwards the newly-crowned champion spoke about how important the series is on the competition calendar:
“The Connolly’s RED MILLS Munster Grand Prix league has been so important for bringing young horses through or for an older horse coming back. The competition is excellent in every way including the quality of the fences and i’m delighted to win. I want to thank the league sponsors Connolly’s RED MILLS and also my own sponsors and owners for their support.”
Timmy Doyle (JS Bucks) and Tholm Keane (Future Storm), shared runner-up spot on the table with 35 points apiece. The leading Young Rider trophy also went to Co Waterford, with Dungarvan’s Nicholas Connors taking the top prize.
Connolly’s RED MILLS Munster Grand Prix league – Final round Banteer Gymkhana held at Maryville Stables Co Cork 17/09/2017
1st Tholm Keane/Future Storm 0/0 42.28
2nd Maura Counihan/Killerisk Minnie 0/0 42.52
3rd Francis Connors/Capitol Cruis 0/0 43.25
4th Francis Connors/Newmarket Clare Lady 0/0 45.32
5th Gemma Phelan/GRC Acapella 0/0 46.00
6th Liam O’Meara/Mr Coolcaum 0/0 46.71
2017 Connolly’s RED MILLS Munster Grand Prix league – Final standings
1st Francis Connors & Capitol Cruis 47 points
=2nd Timmy Doyle & JS Bucks 35 points
=2nd Tholm Keane & Future Storm 35 points