Kevin Mackey overcame several obstacles to win the Intermediate championship at the Connolly’s Red Mills National Hunter Trials Championships at Annaharvey Farm, Co. Offaly last Sunday.
The Horetown member, who was travelling with his wife Carmel, nearly missed out after his jeep broke down near Portarlington but thankfully a local man came to their rescue and brought them and their two horses to the Offaly based venue.
The championships were run differently to other hunter trials, as it is based on optimum time rather than speeding against the clock. Competitors were given a 20 second window to complete the course but if they finished outside of this, they incurred a time penalties.
Competitors were faced with up to 26 jumping efforts over Sam Deverell’s 20 fence track where almost 50 riders took to the field in the intermediate championship when Kevin Mackey had a razor-sharp victory.
Mackey was among fourteen riders who ended the competition with nothing to add leaving the clock to decide the placings. The Wexford rider crossed the line just one second over the optimum time of 5 mins 24 seconds on his 13-year-old ID bay gelding, Mister Diamond.
The time was very tight as second placed Gary Monahan was just two seconds quicker on Blackabbey Boy for the Castle Hill club ahead of Devils Bits’ Antoinette Connolly (Baronstown Lady) and Benbulbens Gavin Keenan (Ardgaineen Waltzer) in joint third place.
Mackey was delighted with his win and said afterwards, “I had a great day after we almost didn’t make it but I fancied my chances and had a plan heading out on the course but luck was definitely on my side. The course was fantastic and the optimum time suited us.”
“So many people helped us out on the day as they got us out of a jam and I just want to thank them for their help including the organisers, the Deverell’s and Connolly’s Red Mills,” he added.
Mackey partnered up with his wife Carmel in the Intermediate Pairs where they were also in the ribbons in fifth place. Nuenna Farm’s Jillian Maher (Lux Like Zeus) teamed up with Tir Conaill’s Maria Doherty (Iseult Valentine) at the last minute to claim the spoils after both of their partners could not make it.
Another Wexford rider filled two of the top three places in the Open and Advanced Open Championship. Christine Keymer claimed the spoils after the Carne member finished 6 seconds off the target on her 12-year-old bay mare, Just A Butterfly (IRE).
Laura Schneider (Chloe Lass) denied the Blackwater resident from claiming second place after the Donegal Gaeltacht rider crossed the line one second ahead of Keymer’s second horse, Ridgewood Ben.
Leonard Reamsbottom picked up a winners ribbon for the third year in a row when the Oakleaf rider stopped the clock on the optimum time of 5’06” on board Lightening Spirit to claim the spoils in the advanced intermediate championship.
The Castlecomer resident was one of seven riders who finished the cross-country with nothing to add while Annaharvey’s Billy Guinan followed closely behind on Curracloe Caesar, who was just one second adrift.
Brigid Neill won the newly introduced young horse competition after the Castle Carraig rider was one of just two riders who completed the two-kilometre course with no jumping penalties. The Gort resident riding her four-year-old dun gelding, Stephens Bubba, finished ahead of Celbridge’s Sarah Conway (Robinse) by just three seconds.
Benbulbens Finola Murphy overcame stiff opposition in the advanced primary championship to claim the title out of a large field of almost 45 riders. Murphy, on her five-year-old dun mare, Pot O Honey, was just two seconds off the target to finished ahead of Warrington’s Joan Byrne on Nancy’s Boy.
Meanwhile, Thomastown & District Riding Club had a double victory in the pairs competitions as the Kilkenny club retained the advanced primary division while they also picked up the mixed pairs title. Margaret Wallace (Monaveen Bill), who was a member of last years winning pair, teamed up with Margaret Walsh (Dollar Boy) on this occasion to retain the title after they crossed the line one second off the target on a zero score ahead of the Clonshire duo of John and Martha Buckley.
The husband and wife pair of Kieran and Niav Cahill won the remaining mixed pairs division after they were just two seconds ahead of the target with nothing to add. This kept them ahead of Ballinasloe’s Danielle Murphy (Thornfield Dubh) and Jack Guinan (Sharragh Kylemore Swatch).