LAURA Higgins landed the RC 80 Championship title at the first time of asking after a hard fought contest at Connolly’s Red Mills-sponsored AIRC National Show Jumping Championships at Mullingar Equestrian, Co Westmeath last Sunday.

Higgins on Ballyegan Bart, a 13-year-old bay gelding, recorded the only double-clear round of the competition to claim the spoils for the Barnacarroll club in Mayo.

Higgins was delighted with her win, saying: “It’s still sinking in really as I never dreamed of winning! This was my first time entering the championships. I have had my mare for two years and she felt fantastic on the day. She was jumping really well in the warm-up, conditions were difficult as it was so hot and I didn’t know how she would react. She is young and has low mileage but she took everything in her stride.

“We competed together at the AIRC Riding Clubs Festival and I think that definitely gave us both confidence coming into this competition. I am lucky to have access to a great facility on my doorstep at Barnacarroll and the support of a brilliant club with access to some great coaches. It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to jump in top-class facilities like Mullingar, and that is down to the work of the Association.”

At the championships, riders had to jump two rounds over two different tracks with those equal on penalties for first place, jumping-off for the honours.

Elaine Wilson, winner of the RC 100 championship at the Connolly's Red Mills AIRC National Show Jumping Championships at Mullingar Equestrian Centre \ Jane Emilly Potter

Win for Wilson

Elaine Wilson landed her first championship title in the RC 100 division after a four-way jump-off.

The Gurteen resident took victory on her nine-year-old bay ISH gelding, Mermus Hill, who produced a clear round in a time of 35.13. This gave the Benbulben member a narrow winning margin over Sally Cunningham on her 20-year-old, Graf Landlord who was also clear in 35.66 for Tara Hill.

Wilson said afterwards that “he’s an honest horse with a great attitude and has a heart of gold.”

Peter Dargan returned to winning ways after the KIlrainy rider won the Connolly’s Red Mills RC 110 & RC 120 Championship on Ballivor Man.

Dargan was almost two seconds faster than Benbulben’s Louise Walsh (Doonaveeragh Claire) who also made it through to the jump-off to claim the honours after both riders kept all fences intact over the three rounds.

The Dargan family are no strangers to winning at the championships after Peter’s daughter Ruth won the RC 90 title last year, while Peter was a former champion in 2015.

Barnacaroll RC's Laura Higgins and Ballyegan Bart, winners of the RC 80cm class at the Red Millls AIRC Championships at Mullingar EC, presented with her prize by judge Heather Camblin \ David Abbott

Hotly contested

Some 35 riders contested the Connolly’s Red Mills RC 90 division where nine made it through to the jump-off after the two rounds of jumping.

Less than one second divided the top three places in what was a hotly contested competition, with Margaret Corry taking victory on the 14-year-old brown gelding Quitano B. The Burren rider was clear in a time of 37.64 which was just enough to land the title ahead of Tynagh’s Grace McCarthy on Take Flight in 38.13 who was also clear over the reduced track.

It was Corry’s second title in a row after the Burren rider won the RC 80 championship last year.

Michelle Kelly claimed the Connolly’s Red Mills RC 70 title after a 10-way jump-off where the Clonshire rider stopped the clock, 5.40 ahead of the target of 53 seconds, with all fences intact on Donatello Dreamer. Castle Carraig’s Monica Hegarty was next best with a clean sheet in a time of 58.68 to take the blue ribbon back to Kilfenora.

RC 90 winners at the Connolly's Red Mills AIRC Championships at Mullingar Equestrian Centre, The Burren's Margaret Corry and Quintano B, presented with their trophy by judge Heather Camblin \ David Abbott

Two riders made it through to the jump-off in the Young Horse competition Sandra Hannigan’s five-year-old bay mare, Yukon Clover, claim the spoils for Cheval.

The Cheval rider had an almost two-second advantage over Kilrainy’s Roisin Gilsenan on Major Tom Franklin after both riders left all of the fences intact over the shortened track.

The championships also featured derby competitions where there were wins for Tinahely’s Denise O’Brien (Tommy B Good) in the RC 110 division, Carne’s Emma Roche (Hayesland Sunrise) in the RC 100 division and Rathangan’s Derry Walker (Attila) in the RC 90 section.

Elsewhere, Mullingar’s Donna Brennan (Cygne) won the RC 80 accumulator while Sharon Shanley (Sam) claimed the RC 70 accumulator for the Lakelands club.

Pictured at the Connolly's Red Mills AIRC Championships at Mullingar were the RC 70 winners Clonshire's Michelle Kelly on Donatello Dreamer being presented with their prize by AIRC chairman Tony Ennis \ David Abbott