CLOVALENT, partnered by Nicole Kershaw, claimed the top-spot in last Sunday’s TRM/Showjumpers Club 1.35m Grand Prix at Cavan Equestrian Centre.
The nine-year-old mare by Valent out of the Cruising mare Cruising May Clover, has been enjoying a great run since her return to work after the winter break, adding this victory to one she earned just one week prior in Portmore where she won the 1.35m Balmoral qualifier.
Speaking after the win, Kershaw said: “We are delighted with the win. I think we made up the time towards the end of the track. We were quite quick from the second last to the last. I was tight to the vertical and then we moved up and did one less than we did in the first round to the final jump.
“She is really quick across the ground and doesn’t take too much time in the air either. She’s easy enough to ride. She is definitely an out and out winner at 1.35m, I think this year hopefully we’ll do some more 1.40m classes now that she’s nine years old.
“The plan now is to stay in Ireland and follow the Spring Tour and then the National Grand Prix series. We will head to the next round in Kernan’s on Sunday; it’s just across the road from us here so it’s a dead handy one which is nice.
“I think the long term plan with her is to breed from her when her competition career is finished. She is well bred herself so she could produce something nice,” Kershaw added of the nine-year-old mare who is owned by Lisa Rosbotham’s Keonan Stables and was bred in Co Kildare by Mary McCann.
Cavan was hosting the second Spring Tour of the weekend and, similar to Warrington, had a big turn out with 55 starting over the Stuart Clarke -designed track, of which 13 progressed to the jump-off.
The time allowed created problems for several riders, with five combinations managing to pick up a single time fault in round one to prevent them from progressing. A total of nine had one fence down in round one, while a further four collected five having one fence down plus a time fault.
Two riders finished on six, having notched up two time faults, while four more had two fences down for eight. The remaining 16 combinations totalled scores in excess of nine.
Gary Dooley and the seven-year-old mare CSF Olympic Jewel (Mylord Carthago x Clover Hill), owned by Declan Dooley, set the pace as first to go over the seven-fence jump-off track. They broke the finish beams clear in a time of 33.11 for eventual third place.
Young rider Stephen Gibbons from Claremorris was next in riding Jane Gibbons’ Cassius Z (Canabis Z x Up to Date M). They too left all the fences up but in a slightly slower 35.39 for fifth.
Sven Hadley and Jim O’Neill’s eight-year-old Castlefield Blue (Plot Blue x Puissance) matched the first two contenders when they laid down a clear round, stopping the 34.36 for fourth place.
Kershaw was next aboard the Keonan Stables-owned Clovalent. They managed to slice almost three seconds off the leading time to promote themselves to the top-spot in 31.90, a place they would maintain for the rest of the class.
Fifth to go, junior rider Jack Murphy was unlucky to part ways with his mount Dinard H on course, but thankfully the pair were unhurt and recovered quickly.
Sven Hadley and his second mount, the Belgian-bred Phenomene Bleu VDM (Diamant De Semilly x Nabab De Reve), owned by Euro Horse Axel Verloy, produced a second round clear in 37.92, which would be good enough to keep them in the money in sixth.
Cavan’s resident junior rider Camryn Clarke and Conto de Reve had one fence down in 35.93 as the seventh pair in, while Lee Carey riding Kan Cruise had two down to finish on eight faults. The next two combinations, Kenneth Graham (Beir Bua) followed by Seamus Hennessy (King Louis) both had one fence down apiece.
Danish young rider Maria Schou and the 11-year-old gelding Chandler 9 then lodged a clear round in 33.10 to claim the runner-up spot. The penultimate pair to take it on were Ausra Clarke riding the Dutch-bred Janco B and they finished with a single fence down in 32.63.
The final combination, and winners in Warrington just two days earlier, Aimee Barry and Garryndruig Limoncello also had one fence on the ground for four faults in the fastest time of the class (31.64).
The next two rounds of the Tour take place tomorrow, March 26th at Kernan Equestrian Centre in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh and Maryville Equestrian Centre in Cork. These are the final rounds at 1.35m as, from April, the Spring Tour tracks will move up to 1.40m.
Timmy Brennan currently heads the leaderboard on 42 points, ahead of Sven Hadley on 38 and Eoin Brennan on 30.