BRITAIN’s Ailsa Wates will long remember April turning into May 2022 as she not only won the CCI2*-S at Ballindenisk on her first visit to the Fell family’s Co Cork venue but this victory on The Lancer Stud’s Fonbherna Lancer provided her with a breakthrough success at international level.

“It was a really great event!” said the rider. “The arena is wonderful, with such a great surface, and the going across the country was perfect with good cross-country courses. There was also very good stabling so I will definitely come again. What more can I say? Lovely place, lovely people and a first international win, it doesn’t get much better than that!”

Wates and Fonbherna Lancer led the 42-runner class on 25.8 penalties after Germany’s Gerd Kuest (C) and Ireland’s Yvonne Monahan (B) had judged the dressage phase and, despite being two seconds over the time across the country on Sunday, they won comfortably on a total of 26.6. For good measure, the 24-year-old rider also finished third with the same owner’s First Lancer (31) who, too, picked up 0.8 of a time penalty over the fixed fences.

A 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve, as is First Lancer, Fonbherna Lancer was previously campaigned by Izzy Taylor under whom he competed three times in Ireland in 2019. The combination finished third in the CCI3*L at Tattersalls in May, won the CCI4*-S at Millstreet in August before placing second at a similar level at Ballindenisk the following month.

Unfortunately, Taylor and the grey suffered a heavy fall last autumn in the CCI5*-L at Pau where Wates made her five-star debut on Woodlands Persuasion, an Anglo European gelding on whom she has competed twice at four-star level in Millstreet, finishing fifth in the CCI4*-L there last August.

“I’ve started riding some of The Lancer Stud’s home-bred youngstock and they offered me the ride on this fellow as well to help me have another horse to compete at a higher level,” revealed Wates who, before setting up her own yard in west Sussex, worked with Michael Jung in Germany and with Shane Breen at Hickstead.

“It’s great that he was campaigned in the past at a high level by such good riders as Izzy and Piggy (March). We have to do a three-star long together and I might do that at Millstreet because, like here, there is a very good surface in the arena and they always ensure good going. I’ll probably take First Lancer there as well as he also has to do a three-star long.

“I was delighted with my old horse, Woodlands Persuasion, who’s 17 now, in the CCI4*-S. He needs good ground which is why we brought him here but he slipped slightly at a drop fence and my foot went through the stirrup. All those time penalties we picked up (14.4) were because of that. I’m aiming him at another five-star. My poor mare (Ophelie van Prinseveld) just had bad luck in the three-star-short and that’s a run best forgotten.

“I’d like to thank my groom Natalie for all her hard work at the event. She had all four horses looking great and was under pressure with three of them in the same class. I was very lucky that my mother Pip (who first produced Woodlands Persuasion) came over for the event as did one of my owners, Claire, and both mucked in when needed.”

Wates has a few Irish-bred horses in her yard including Nicola Coe’s Coronea May who has been placed twice in three starts this season at BE100 level.

The eight-year-old mare, who is due to have her first Novice run shortly, is by Golden Lariat sire also of the recent BoyleSports Irish Grand National winner, Lord Lariat.

An Irish combination split the two Wates-partnered runners and, given the season he is enjoying to date, it was no surprise to see that this was Ian Cassells with Pat Duffy’s home-bred Irish Sport Horse mare, Brookwood Supersable. The daughter of Tolan R was having just her 10th start at Ballindenisk and while she has just the one win to her credit (in an EI110 at Kilguilkey last August), she is a most consistent sort who has never finished worse than sixth.

“The mare was first produced as a show jumper by Nicola FitzGibbon (she has 67 SJI points) and I only started eventing her towards the end of June last year,” commented Newcastle, Co Dublin-based Cassells of the seven-year-old. “She has never had a pole down since then and produced another lovely double clear at the weekend. She’ll have a bit of downtime now with the aim of doing the three-star-long at the second Millstreet and hopefully then being selected for Le Lion d’Angers.”

Cassells, who will be presented with the Karen Rodgers Trophy as the highest-placed Irish rider in the class, is most unusually taking a couple of days off this weekend and plans to relax and watch Badminton on TV.

Co Meath-based New Zealand international, Amanda Goldsbury, had an expensive pole down to place fourth with Nicola Roden’s ISH gelding Fernhill Inspector (31.1), while Co Kilkenny-based US international, Gillian Beale King, filled the following two places with Richard Ames’s RCA Royal Mist (32.2) and Rebeliant (33.1), both of whom completed on their flatwork marks.

While just nine combinations in total completed on their dressage scores, the cross-country fences caused very few problems in jumping with most penalties being picked up in the show jumping phase or for time on the final leg.