BRENDAN Murphy and the stallion Zambia won their first Grand Prix of 2022 when they earned the top spot in the TRM/Showjumpers Club Romanov Grand Prix 1.35m, sponsored by Ballywalters Farms, at Barnadown.

Speaking after the win, the Wicklow-based rider told The Irish Field, “This is his first show back after a break, he jumped a 1.30m on Friday and he felt fantastic so we decided to go for the Grand Prix today and, once again, he felt great. We’re delighted to win here today and kick the season off in style.

“A lot of young horses jumped today. I think the time caught a lot of people; moving back into the bigger outdoor arenas and maybe taking too much time in the corners. The time allowed is always one of the biggest factors, never mind leaving all the fences up.

“The course was pretty straightforward, we just got in and got the job done. I watched the first two or three and knew that because there wasn’t a huge amount in the jump-off that a smooth forward clear with him should be enough. He is a big striding horse and covers the ground well . The main thing was to leave the fences up and let him travel.

“I think that Annie (Courtney Cadam) and Jackie (Breslin) didn’t put their horses under too much pressure against the clock, so the door was left open for me to just let to my horse go at his natural forward pace, he’s comfortable going fast so I can just let him go a bit, it makes it much easier to have a good time.

“He is a nine-year-old by Diamant de Semilly out of an Alva mother. Alan Robertson bred him, I only have him since the end of last year and he still has a bit to learn but he’s coming together all the time. He is very well behaved, you wouldn’t even realise that he is a stallion sometimes because he is very relaxed around other horses.

“Alan owns him with Gabriel Mullins and they are great owners to have. I’m delighted to have the ride of the horse. He won an Autumn Grand Prix last year in Tipperary and he keeps improving so he’s an exciting prospect for the year ahead.

“I’m based at home now in Arklow, Co Wicklow and am just getting going. I have a couple of nice horses for the season but will always welcome more good jumpers if we can get them.

“It’s great to get the win here. I think we will give them next week to take it easy and then head to the finals in Coilóg with a view to stepping him up to National and Premier leagues this summer.

“The qualifiers and Horse Board classes aren’t too far away now so that will keep me busy, I’m lucky to have some nice young horses coming through.

“I’d like to thank TRM and the other sponsors. The 1.35m league is a great way to get the horses ready for the season ahead and also a great way to step up the younger horses for the summer shows classes,” concluded Murphy.

Brendan Murphy with Gabriel Mullins and Alan Robertson's Zambia, winners of the TRM Showjumpers Club Spring Tour Romanov Grand Prix, sponsored by Ballywalters Farm, at Barnadown \ Alex Perry

Fast time

Some 47 combinations lined out for the 16th round of the 20-round league which offered a prize fund of €2,500. Of these, just seven managed to keep a clean sheet in round one to progress to the timed decider over the John Doyle-designed track.

Murphy proved best of these, stopping the clock in a very fast time of 44.61 to secure the victory.

Murphy’s time was an incredible 6.49 seconds ahead of his closest rival Jackilynn Breslin riding Jim O’Neill’s Castlefield Miss, who took the runner-up spot in 51.10. Castlefield Miss is a nine-year-old by Pacino out of Little Miss Puissance, by Puissance.

Young rider Annie Courtney Cadam and her mother Linda’s 12-year-old gelding LCC Empty Pockets (Indoctro - Cruising) were third in 55.37. Fourth place went to Sean Kavanagh riding Rosemary Reynolds Carousel Gold (Caricello - Colourfield) as the fastest four-faulter in 46.33.

Dermott Lennnon was fifth aboard the eight-year-old Millview Cicero. Bred by Harry Marshall, the gelding is by Cicero Z Van Paemel out of Royal Dutch, by Oklund.

Alan O’Regan and Emma Horgan’s seven-year-old Seaview Demonstration (FSS Corelli Bravo - Castlelawn Galloway) completed the line-up in sixth.

The next and penultimate round of the Spring League takes place tomorrow (Sunday) at Mullingar Equestrian, with the final one week later at Coilóg Equestrian.