CLEM McMahon and TJM Amour Fou continued their run of good form this year when winning Sunday’s feature Coolmore Stud-sponsored 1.40m Grand Prix at the Cavan Indoor Championships.
The combination proved best in the competitive 16-way jump-off to claim the lion’s share of the €5,000 on offer.
Speaking after the victory, McMahon told The Irish Field: “It was an honour to win the Hazel O’Callaghan memorial trophy. Hazel was a friend of mine so it was nice to be able to remember her.”
About the nine-year-old Diamant de Semilly gelding, he said: “I’ve had TJM Amour Fou since he was a yearling. Myself and John (Connolly) had a very good mare, Catani Z, who placed third in the Boomerang a few years ago, and he was an embryo flush. Catani was by Cicero and sold on to America when she was seven.
“I’ve produced him since the beginning and he has the makings of a top horse. He was third in the two-star Grand Prix in Mullingar, he was second in the 1.50m Premier final in Mullingar and now he’s won here. He is very straightforward and easy to ride. Nothing fazes him and he is very professional in the ring.
“I did one less stride from one to two, we were quite tight back to the double and also to the second last. It was a nice tidy round where all the first distances came up.”
Commenting on the show in general, McMahon added: “The new surface at the show was riding fantastic and it was nice to see new fences in the main ring.”
A total of 47 starters was reduced to 17 for the timed decider. Some 13 combinations had a single fence down in round one, while six had two on the ground and the remaining 11 accumulated 12 faults or more over the Stuart Clarke-designed track.
The line-up for the jump-off was down to 16 when Sean Monaghan decided to withdraw Ronnoco Jump Ltd’s gelding Mijnheer Van de Lentamel (Emerald x Toulon).
Jonathan Smyth and Ann Doherty’s Crystal Graf (Lux Z - Graf Magna) collected an uncharacteristic 12 faults to put them out of the placings. Dermott Lennnon, riding his own eight-year-old Anthem In My Heart, a winner earlier in the week, left two fences on the floor for eight faults.
Lennon was also out of luck with his other eight-year-old, All Pleasure Hero II Z (Aganix Du Seigneur x For Pleasure), incurring four faults to leave them out of the money.
Cavan’s resident rider Victoria Clarke and her own and Ronnoco Jump Ltd’s eight-year-old Major Royale (OBOS Quality x Cavalier Royale) also had a single fence down.
Junior rider Francis Derwin and his Tattersalls Grand Prix winner Deep Pockets (OBOS Quality x Cruising) really went for it against the clock and provided the fastest time of the day in 32 seconds, but one fence down denied them the win. They finished in 12th place.
McMahon and TJM Amour Fou, who is owned by the rider and John Connolly, stopped the clock at 32.67 to secure the top-spot. Robyn Moran and Vera Griffin’s Cushlas Fryday (Hector Van D’Abdijhoeve x Apache D’Adriers) came closest to catching them when breaking the finish beams in 33.01 for the runner-up placing.
Third place went to Robert Splaine riding TLK Equine Ventures LLC and Mike Kovanda’s Cambridge (Cloney x Stakkato) in 33.95. Junior rider Tommy Halford placed fourth with his mother Louise’s Greenvale Draco (Dick Z x Orsina).
Nicole Kershaw rode Lisa Rothbotham’s Belgian-bred Lotus Van’t Nachtegalehof into fifth, and Comandant Geoff Curran completed the top six aboard the Minister For Defence’s Glengarra Wood (Capitalist x Cavalier Clover Lad).