THE winners at last weekend’s Flavours of Fingal Show at Newbridge House, Donabate came from near and far with the Galway husband and wife team of rider William McMahon and owner/breeder Grace Maxwell-Murphy claiming the morning’s hunter championship with their middleweight winner, Gleann Rua Da Vinci.
The Irish Sport Horse gelding topped the original line-up of ride judges Alice Copithorne and Conor Higgins and the conformation judge, Shane McKenna and there he remained to take the red ahead of Lyndsey O’Brien’s owner-ridden Irish Draught gelding Mr Bloomfield, a six-year-old by Gortfree Hero, and Amie Garrigan’s owner-ridden ISH gelding Morning Star Loughill, an eight-year-old son of Cobra.
“Gleann Rua Da Vinci is by Camillo VDL (by Ard VDL Douglas) and is out of my mare Gleann Rua Times who is by French Buffet out of a Cavalier Royale mare out of a Diamond Lad mare,” revealed Maxwell-Murphy. “She has bred us eight foals, seven colts and one filly (by Kings Master), and this year’s foal is a big, black colt by Crosstown Dancer.
“Gleann Rua Da Vinci, who is the mare’s second produce, hasn’t had much exposure over the last two years because of Covid so it’s really exciting to finally get him out for a proper season. He won at the rescheduled Balmoral last September but we didn’t bring him there in May as we had other commitments. He was champion hunter in Athenry and at the Mullingar International recently and was also champion working hunter at both of those shows. He has qualified for the Connolly’s Red Mills final at Tattersalls later this month so we will take him there and we will also aim him at a HOYS qualifier and at Dublin next month.”
The Galway couple would have been more than happy with the judging process on Saturday but not all who competed in this middleweight class were. Three of those in the back row, whose horses had already been assessed for conformation, were asked to leave the ring without their mounts being ridden by either Copithorne or Higgins, a move which surprised those ringside and very much annoyed the three riders who were soon joined by a fourth.
The reserve champion was the small hunter class winner, the Jennifer Kennedy-partnered Assagart Angel who is owned by the rider and John Roche. Traditionally bred in Co Wexford by Michael Roche and carrying over 90% thoroughbred blood, the seven-year-old is by Kings Master out of the Nordic Brave mare Nordic Dream whose 2016 foal, a full-sister to the reserve champion, placed third in the afternoon’s amateur class under Naomi Fisher.
A delighted Kennedy reported that Assagart Angel is “a joy to produce alongside my fulltime corporate job as she only requires hacking a couple times a week to keep her fit.” At present, Kennedy’s horses are being produced between Co Wicklow and her sister Karyn’s newly-built yard in Co Wexford where David Kenna is very much involved, bringing on the younger horses, and where the newest member of the team is Amelia Bailey who hails from Jamaica.
Balrath’s Sive Ryan topped the line-up throughout in the four-year-old class on the Creggan Emperor gelding Emperor John on whom she won the four- and five-year-old performance Irish Draught class at Balmoral where he went reserve champion. The chesnut, who was bred in Co Roscommon by Hugh Hennigan out of his Carrickcottage Star mare, Manor Lady, is heading to the Tattersalls Show later this month after which he will be aimed at the four-year-old working hunter class at Dublin.
The O’Brien sisters, Suzanne and Lyndsey, had family support as they travelled up from Co Limerick and the pair were rewarded for their efforts with a win apiece.
Suzanne struck first when claiming the honours in the lightweight hunter class on her Carrick Diamond Lad gelding Prince Of Diamonds on whom she finished third in the lightweight sportsmans class at Dublin in 2019. The combination will be returning to the RDS next month, having qualified for the ladies’ side saddle championship, but before then will be heading to Tattersalls as they have also qualified for the Connolly’s Red Mills amateur final.
Prince Of Diamonds was bred in Co Kildare by Donal McKenna out of the unraced Moscow Society mare Moscow Gayle and here the bay stood ahead of two former racehorses.
Finishing second under owner and amateur jockey Helen Mooney, on his first start in a showing class, was the 10-year-old Lawman gelding Mandamus who, when trained by former international event rider Sheila Lavery, won two races on the flat. Another local rider, Jamie Buckley, finished third on the now well-known ex-racehorse Woodland Opera, a 12-year-old Robin Des Champs gelding who visited the winner’s enclosure on nine occasions.
In the early evening’s amateur class, a Connolly’s Red Mills qualifier, Suzanne and Prince Of Diamonds finished second behind Lyndsey and Mr Bloomfield who had earlier placed third in the Irish Draught class. Another by the very popular Gortfree Hero, this six-year-old was bred in Co Mayo by Peter McHugh out of the Clonakilty Hero mare, Anthonys Choice, who was always bred to ID stallions until having a 2019 colt by Royal Cruise and a 2020 filly by Castlelawn Captain Junior.