A FIRM favourite at Dublin is the amateur championship which took place on Saturday after the Land Rover Puissance had held the main arena spellbound. Following two nail-biting amateur qualifiers, 12 worthy finalists had booked their place at the RDS. Taking the win was Adrian Gilmartin and his 15-year-old mare Carnaval Cocktail.

Bred by Mr and Mrs KR Cooper, the mare is by Kannan out of the Carnaval Drum-sired Carnaval Supreme. This is the second time this combination has won this championship, having claimed it in 2019 and also taking second in 2018. They had gone in as hot favourites, having won the earlier qualifier class that morning.

A thrilled Gilmartin said: “It is always a great privilege to get to ride in the main arena in Dublin and to win there is very special. I would like to thank Cathal McMunn from Lock Rinn Stables for looking after my horse and for all the training. I would also like to thank Paddy Mullins, who could not make it to see this class this evening. Paddy has put so much into the amateur category and helped keep the final of the amateurs in the main arena in Dublin.”

Setting the course was international course designer Tom Holden who designed a fair and balanced course, with the vertical to the Longines oxer catching a few out. Spectators didn’t have to wait for the first clear as first in Caelinn McCabe and Kuda answered all the questions and a further three combinations joined her in the jump-off.

First to go against the clock, McCabe set off strong with Kuda ( Luidam x Ard VDL Douglas) and opted to take the inside line from the Horse Show Blanks to the double at six. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as planned as she faulted at the boat fence proceeding the double, crossing the line in a time of 36.28 for third place.

Next to go with the home-bred Ballinaguilkey Heritage (Heritage Fortunas x Ramiro B), Laura Walsh had a win in mind after she finished fourth place in the earlier qualifier. Cheered on by the crowd, she took all the tight lines, but a daring turn gallop to the last vertical saw it fall to the floor, but she took the lead as she clocked 34.99.

It was certainly a busy week for the Walsh family as Tracy Walsh was in action in the the six-year-olds with the home-bred Ballinaguilkey Fusion Exchange. Trainer and breeder Pam Walsh was also on hand to offer help and encouragement to both sisters.

Egle Zakaraite also set off in a blistering pace with Talbot Siss (Metropole x Chippison) and looked to be up on target. However a sharp turn to the Dublin Blanks cost her as she faulted at the double and then the boat fence, to cross the line in 40.68 for eventual fourth place.

Last to go all eyes were on AA rider Adrian Gilmartin and Carnaval Cocktail. A former winner of this Championships, Gilmartin knew that he had to strike the right balance with a clear round but fast enough to beat Walsh in the event of faulting. The Sligo rider set off at a calculated pace and kept it tight. There were anxious moments as Carnaval Cocktail took a big jump over the second last oxer, but they came home clear in 40.05 to take the win.

Alice Martin-Jones slotted into fifth place with Paloma V/D Padenborre (Quidam de Revel x Chin Chin) when fastest of the four-faulters in a time of 59.66. Completing the top six was Aideen Kirby and Derg Masterpiece (Lancelot x Clover Hill) when she also had one down in the first round, albeit in a slower time of 59.67.