TWO rounds of the Horse Sport Ireland affiliate combined training challenge were held last weekend with Sunday’s leg being hosted by the Munster Region of Eventing Ireland at the Roscrea Equestrian Centre in Co Tipperary.

Just four combinations started in the EI110 qualifier, where Christopher Whyte completed on his winning dressage score (30.25 penalties) with his traditionally bred Irish Sport Horse mare LadyCraft.

The Puissance bay, who won an EI110 for six-year-olds at Punchestown last August, was bred in Co Tipperary by Rosemary Ponsonby out of the unraced Warcraft mare Warcraft Kate.

As Whyte and his mount had previously booked their place in the final, the first qualifying ticket on Sunday went to the second-placed pairing of Alyssa O’Neill and her six-year-old ISH mare Danos Lola (by VDL Carrera), who also completed on their flat work mark.

In spite of picking up four jumping penalties, Michelle Gilligan qualified in third with her Grade C gelding Avalon Renkum (36.5), a nine-year-old son of Porsch.

Junior rider Neli Pekkarinen fared best in the five-strong EI100 qualifier where she recorded the only sub 30-penalty dressage score on which she completed with Hans Kuehnle’s Avoca Tullibards Alchemist (29.75). Previously campaigned by Jim Tyrrell, the Christine Banks-bred eight-year-old is by Kings Master out of the Frankfort Boy mare Knockanree Nell.

The second qualifying ticket on offer went to the winner’s stable-companion, the unraced thoroughbred mare Tullibards Babs Delight who also finished on her flat work mark (34). The five-year-old by Jet Away was bred by Frances and Barbara Hatton out of the winning Lord Americo mare Lady Ramona who has bred four winners on the track from just four runners.

There was a good entry of 20 (17 starters) for the EI90 qualifier where, again, the winners, Caroline Lynch and her six-year-old Sheila Lavery-bred Golden Lariat mare Quora (29.75), had already booked their place in the final.

The first ticket on offer therefore went to the runners-up, Aisling McGreal and the Connemara gelding Killernan Rambler (31.5), a five-year-old by Loughmor Rambler, while Alyssa O’Neill booked a second qualifying spot on the day when placing third with her four-year-old Sligo Candy Boy gelding DS Candescent (32).

Three of the five entries in the EI80 qualifier met their engagement with the honours going to Marie Cross who recorded the only clear round on her ISH mare Halley Halleljuh (39.25) with whom she competes as a member of Anvil Riding Club. Bred by Martin Bohane, and first produced by Ann O’Grady, the seven-year-old bay is by Ricardo Z out of the Clover Hill mare Drishane Colleen,

Neli Pekkarinen was among the ribbons in this class as well, qualifying in second on Hans Kuehnle’s Tullibards Herself, a five-year-old by the Connemara stallion Killaloe Buachaill Mór who accumulated eight jumping penalties for a total of 46.

Small entry at The Meadows

The second of the HSI affiliate combined training challenge qualifiers staged by the Northern Region of Evening Ireland at The Meadows last Saturday was, disappointingly, as poorly supported as the first late last month with, once again, just 11 starters at the Lisburn equestrian centre.

North coast veterinary surgeon Rosie Alcorn owned and partnered three of the four entries in the EI110 class and filled the top three placings.

She qualified in first with her home-bred 2015 Jaguar Mail gelding Chrysanthos (30.8 penalties), on whom she finished second in the Michael Leonard EI105 championships for five- and six-year-olds at the Ballindenisk international last September, and in second with her 2013 Centre Stage mare, Centre Fold Belle (32.3), another home-bred.

Just one combination had a qualifying score at EI100 level and that was Nichola Wray and Springhill Showman. The 2016 bay gelding, who made his EI debut last season when he was placed on all but three of his 12 starts, has no recorded pedigree but is said to be by the Irish Draught stallion Lislap Benedict out of a thoroughbred mare.

A clear in both jumping phases secured victory in the three-runner EI90 for Hannah Thompson and Jemeela Charm (32.8) who completed their 2021 eventing campaign with victory in the EI100 (Amateur) at Castle Irvine, Necarne last August.

The traditionally bred 12-year-old mare is by the ID stallion Loughry Lad out of Karen Fleck’s unraced thoroughbred mare Night Fire (by Perpendicular). Gemma Goodrich and Remember Bea led after dressage on 30.5 but had a fence down on the cross-country phase to qualify in second. The sole starter, and qualifier, in the EI80 was Rachael Burns who completed on her flat work mark (37.8) with her seven-year-old Cavalier Cruise mare Cavalier Carry On Cruising.

The Western Region of EI is hosting tomorrow’s eighth and last Challenge qualifier at Claremorris EC with the final taking place on Sunday next, March 13th, at CoilÓg.