DRAMATIC weather hampered what promised to be an exciting day’s show jumping at this year’s Coolmore/SJI Premier Grand Prix in Tattersalls last Sunday afternoon. As usual the show organisers had the main arena well prepared and looking superb; but nothing could stop the high winds and massive downpours which featured over both days.
The first round of Sunday’s €20,000 feature class was interrupted several times because fences which had blown down had to be reassembled, and heavy showers impeded the visibility of both riders and judges.
Despite this, young rider Niamh McEvoy, who is enjoying the best results of her career of late, once again showed her moxy guiding Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick to victory in the 42-strong 1.50m class which included former World Championship and Olympic riders.
Speaking after the win, a thrilled McEvoy said: “I’m delighted with my horse today. She just got back from the European championships in Oliva, Spain where she was on the bronze medal-winning team.
“I was lucky, I was early, I was second to go so I missed the downpours which followed. She (Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick) was jumping really well in the first round. It was a really well built track and the ground held up really good.
“I was first to go in the jump-off. There were only five in it. I suppose I wanted to go in and just do a nice round and maybe get some league points but it worked out she was in great form and jumped absolutely amazing.
“She is such a consistent mare; she won two of the two-star Grands Prix, Mullingar and Balmoral and I think she is now in the lead in the Premier Series so hopefully that means she get to go to Dublin where I think she will be a fantastic competitor.”
Owner Robin Bingham added: “We are over the moon. She has been so consistent. Every day she goes out she just keeps jumping and jumping. We bought her as a four-year-old. Peter Smyth brought her on the old fashioned way; nice and slowly. He wouldn’t run her against the clock, kept everything nice and slow and waited on her.
“The waiting worked out well because it meant we had something for Niamh. Peter contacted me and said he didn’t really have a whole lot of time for her but he knew someone who could bring her on further. We didn’t want to sell her so that worked out for us all. We couldn’t be happier with how it’s going. It’s phenomenal.”
Just five of the 42 combinations which started posted a first round clear to make it into the jump-off.
McEvoy was the pathfinder and set the target, clear in a time of 47.45. Second to take it on was the Army Equitation School’s Lt James Whyte riding Hawthorn Hill (Cardento x Limmerick). The final two fences down in 49.20 left them on eight faults to add and in eventual fourth place.
Next in Comdt. Geoff Curran and Kilrue (Balou Du Rouet x Beach Ball) also collected eight faults, theirs coming at the third and second last fences in 54.86 for eventual fifth place.
Lee Carey riding Luxity (O.B.O.S Quality 004 x Lux Z) were the penultimate pair to go. They came closest to catching McEvoy with the only other double clear to secure the runner-up spot.
Last to go Jason Foley and Cnoc Rua Chinook (Pacino x Ramiro B) recorded a good time of 46.86 which would have been enough for first place but a single fence down cost them four faults and they had to settle for third place.
McEvoy’s win promoted her to the top spot in the series on 23 points as we head into the fifth and final round in Mullingar tomorrow (Sunday July 31st).