ENJOYING a double of wins as well as the bigger tracks, Co Wexford professional Patrick Whelan, together with his veteran partner Footfall, walked away with the EI 115 (O). With only four runners, the class was not the most competitive, but by producing a leading dressage mark, together with a double-clear round, Whelan could do no more.
This was the third win on the bounce for this diminutive 18-year-old who, having carried Whelan since his days in pony club, is now carefully minded. “It’s always nice to get a win on him, and it keeps him fit at the same time,” said the rider, who is still weighing up whether to run the gelding at Ballindenisk in two weeks’ time. Unusually Whelan did not make the time in the country, leaving that sole honour to second-placed Olivia Swan riding the thoroughbred Clonakilty Bay.
Another equine veteran landed the spoils in the EI 110, and this time it was the turn of the 17-year-old Garveys Joy partnered by Ward Union pony club member Ciara O’Sullivan. The Ashbourne-based rider, whose mother Claire O’Connell trains thoroughbreds under rules, was making her first appearance of the season, and also recording her first win in the EI ranks.
Having been placed fifth in the open pony club national championships last weekend, O’Sullivan plans to continue her affiliated eventing until the end of the season. “I need to get some qualifying results,” she said. “I’m delighted to have won, because I thought it was a very tough track, which took a lot of jumping.”
With six of the 15 starters incurring penalties in the country, the track was certainly not straightforward, and notably accounted for the demotion of the two dressage leaders Fraser Duffy (You Two Hotshot) and Terrence White (Frankfor OB Cruising). With just four clear rounds, the show jumping was also a test, as only four left the poles intact.
Although none of the 15 starters could make the time in the country, O’Sullivan delivered one of just three double-clear rounds, to forge ahead of second-placed Claire Farrell (King of Moveen) and Luke Drea (Novocana) in third.
Big guns in class
With 26 runners, the EI 100 was certainly the most competitive class of the day, and with age and experience once again gaining the advantage, the red ribbon went to Kildalton College lecturer Kate Solon aboard her 12-year-old Oakport Ringo Star. “I’m delighted because there were some big guns in the class,” said Solon. “I’ve had a ball with this horse, who I initially used to ride for a friend, then I finished up buying for myself.”
Bred by Michael Keane and carrying traditional breeding, Oakport Ringo Star is by the thoroughbred All My Dreams out of the ID mare Amber Rose.
Chasing Solon from the start was runner-up Nicky Roncoroni riding Paul Douglas’s Millstreet Discovery (June) five-year-old winner and former HSI Development champion Rock Island. The highly rated son of Island Commander was bred by Michael Byrne, out of the well-related Coolcoran Gypsey by Coolcorran Cool Diamond.
Also delivering a double clear to land third spot was George Russell aboard Joan Wright’s six-year-old Wexfo Indigo (by Luidam). The latter, who has kept a clean sheet from his only two runs under rules, was bred by William Gleeson, and is out of the thoroughbred mare Wexfo Dec Do by Cloudings.
The track proved to be an inviting one for these youngsters as only one combination walked home from the country.
Patrick Whelan picked up the second leg of his Frankfort double in the EI 90. Renewing his successful partnership with Julie Radden’s smart thoroughbred stallion Galileo Dance, Whelan pulled up from fifth spot to complete on his opening score of 29.0.
The six-year-old has been covering mares since his last run under rules, and already a winner at EI 100 level, Whelan is keen to upgrade again soon. He will travel to the National Championships this weekend, and hopes to perhaps take in an EI 110 class before the end of the year.
Debbie Flavin picked up a good second spot with Stephen O’Sullivan’s four-year-old Sunhill de Revel, from dressage leader Ellie Toner on the similarly aged RDS young horse finalist Belline Olympic Date.