EIGHTEEN-year-old Niamh McEvoy ended a breakthrough three weeks at the Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera by making her senior Nations Cup debut and winning her first three-star Grand Prix on Sunday evening with the brilliant Irish Sport Horse mare Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick.
McEvoy, who was in Spain with the Ballypatrick Stables team who she rides for, was handed her Nations Cup debut by Irish team manager Michael Blake on Friday, producing a second-round clear helping Ireland to a fourth-place finish.
Sunday saw her compete in just her second ever three-star Grand Prix and she landed a superb victory to finish her international season, which saw her ride in the five-star classes at the Dublin Horse Show, on a high. Some 12 combinations made it through to the jump-off when, early to go in the second round, McEvoy posted the fastest time of 32.06 seconds to claim the top prize of €12,835.
She held on to win despite a late challenge from Cian O’Connor and Susan Magnier’s Kilkenny (Cardento x Guidam) who, last to go, slotted into second place with a clear in 33.51 seconds. USA’s Mavis Spencer finished third with Carissimo 25.
Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick is a 12-year-old mare by Limmerick out of Go Luckey (Lux Z), bred by Dorothea Wilson and owned by Robin Bingham. She was produced in Ireland by Peter Smyth before McEvoy took over in 2021.
Speaking afterwards, the Omagh native, said: “I was so delighted with my mare, she jumped amazing. The first round I thought was very strong, there was a few very difficult lines at the start of the course but she tried hard as always so I was so happy with her.
“She jumped so amazing in jump-off. The first line I got up on a stride less; she tries so hard, she is so careful and so brave. This is only her second three-star Grand Prix so I am totally over the moon. It’s been a great end to three really good weeks. It is my first time here at the Sunshine Tour, it’s been a great experience.”
McEvoy added: “She definitely deserves a good break now so we will get her back to the field. Hopefully next year we will get into some bigger shows and hoprefully we can keep going up the ranks a bit.”
Earlier in the week, McEvoy won a three-star 1.50m with Max O’Reilly Hyland’s eight-year-old mare Aconzina PS when best of eight clear rounds.
Twomey wins two-star Grand Prix
At the same fixture in Vejer, there was also an Irish winner in the two-star Grand Prix. Cork’s Billy Twomey, riding Lady Lou, finished in a share of first place after crossing the line in exactly the same time (39.69) as USA’s Mavis Spencer with Carayuno.
“I’m delighted with my win and really happy with my horse as she has been off work for some months and it has been nice to bring her back to the Tour to get her back up to some fitness. The facilites here are fantastic, it is brilliant for the horses to have three weeks here to build them up.”
Billy also thanked his long term supporter and owner Sue Davis who couldn’t be at the show but without whom, he believes his career wouldn’t have been as successful. “I am very, very grateful to her for everything,” he said.
Seventeen-year-old Aine Shortall enjoyed an excellent run of form in Vejer, winning twice last weekend with Killerisk Can Ya, a 10-year-old gelding by Can Ya Makan out of R Umonia 14 (Mermus R) and bred by Kerry show jumper Maura Counihan.
The pair won Saturday’s two-star accumulator before landing victory in Sunday’s 1.25m Table A with a double clear in 38.61 seconds. Carol Gee finished in second place with her own Fernhill Balou Beau, an eight-year-old by Sligo Candy Boy who was bred by Donal Clarke out of Miss Mac Car (Cavalier Royale).
Kevin Gallagher was runner-up in Saturday’s three-star 1.50m aboard Ballypatrick Flamenco (Je T’Aime Flamenco x Cruising), bred by Noel Cawley. The pair was among 17 double clear rounds from 61 starters, breaking the beam in 28.99 seconds behind USA winner Mimi Hochman with Celina BH (0/0 27.89).
Gallagher won two one-star 1.30m classes with the Elicia Edgar’s six-year-old mare Vino Bianco van Overis Z, while Niamh McEvoy won Saturday’s one-star 1.30m with Triple T Calamando Blue, a six-year-old gelding by Calmando who is owned by Gary Hazelwood.
Dermott Lennon was runner-up in Friday’s three-star 1.45m aboard his own eight-year-old mare All Pleasure Hero II Z (Aganix du Seigneur x For Pleasure). The combination were one of seven clears in 39.32 seconds, just fractions slower than Britain’s Louise Saywell and Carlina D’Argouges.