KILGUILKEY event organisers Danny and Michelle Dulohery found themselves in an unenviable position last weekend, when having taken the plunge to run, the couple were later forced to abandon the event after just four classes. The Co Cork venue had received a huge amount of rain on the run up to the fixture, but drying fast, the track was deemed usable in the preceding days. “Hindsight is a great thing,” remarked Dulohery. “People who needed the qualifications rang me all week pleading with me not to cancel. We told everyone the ground would be heavy and, if it had stayed wet, we probably could have kept going. Instead, we had a very hot day and, as a result, the drying ground got so sticky the horses couldn’t jump out of it. It was disappointing for the riders, but every cloud has a silver lining and everyone came home safely.”

Setting out across the country early in the day, the majority of riders in the feature EI120 did complete. For some, it was to be a final run before the local international, but not for winner Molly Evans (Wellan Grafitti), who will be competing in the British international at Bicton in Devon this weekend.

Keen to have a spin before making the journey, Evans opened well in fourth place on the flat and, despite lowering a pole, retained a narrow advantage over Sarah Gilkinson with Lush Upgrade. “We don’t often run in this sort of ground,” commented Evans. “But Kilguilkey has always been a lucky venue for me. I walked the track and decided to let the mare go at her own pace, and was prepared to pull her up if necessary. In the end, she was game for it and, despite the going, the track itself had plenty of questions and combinations and gave me an ideal prep run both for Bicton and Bramham.”

Having bought the 13-year-old Wellan Graffiti from her breeders Margaret and Jim Newsam, Evans has owned the daughter of Grafenstoltz for eight years and has produced her throughout. Very well-related, she is the third offspring out of Wellan Cavalier (Cavalier Royale), who is a half-sister to Jim Newsam’s own five-star ride Magennis.

In second spot, fellow Northern region rider Gilkinson and the diminutive Lush Upgrade were one of only two of the 10 finishers to complete on their dressage scores, the other being Molly O’Connor, who filled third with her Ballindenisk CCI3*-S runner up HSH Has It All.

The initial start list of 14 was reduced to 11 after dressage and, while only Clare Abbott and Mr Mighty picked up jumping penalties in the country, others – including dressage leaders Ian Cassells and Master Point, opted to take their time.

Winner of the EI115 Open class at Kilguilkey House was Momo Sheehy with TMX Herby \ Justin Black, Horse Sport Images

Round up

In what proved to be a good day for the young riders, Momo Sheehy enjoyed a well deserved win in the EI115 (Open). Although many of the leading contenders opted not to run across the country, Sheehy and her junior squad partner TMX Herby were clear and fast and, by adding just 2.4 time faults to their opening score, they headed the six remaining runners. Faster in the country, but adrift on the flat, Godfrey Gibbons filled second with Milchem Free Spirit, from Emily Barrett and Oakfield Cooley. As the only other starter, Rebecca Scott and Athea Clover Dew took a heavy fall at the last, but fortunately both walked away unscathed.

Winner of the EI115 class at Kilguilkey House 1 Tom Nestor riding Cooley Diamond Dancer (ISH) \ Justin Black, Horse Sport Images

The on-form pairing of Tom Nestor and Cooley Diamond Dancer are proving hard to beat this season and, racking up their third win on the bounce, they recorded a convincing victory in the EI115. Carrying four penalties from the show jumping, but still completing with a 15-mark advantage, the Co Kildare duo headed second placed Jessica Reid (Ballyorney Bubbles), as well as Heidi Hamilton aboard the seven-year-old Cavaliers Cruiz. Just five completed.

Kilguilkey was also an allocated venue for the DAFM age group series, so it was unfortunate that only the seven-year-old sector was able to run. Just four opted to take part, with the honours falling to Jack O’Haire riding Penelope Guinness’ home-bred mare Jamaica Rose.

The oldest progeny of the James O’Haire-ridden four-star mare Nancy Belle, the Pointilliste-sired Jamaica Rose led from flag fall, to better Joseph Murphy with Dstud Flirtation and Ian Cassells, who was similarly steady with Inquisitor.