SARAH Ennis, who rode both Action Lady M and Grantstown Jackson at Lincolnshire and Kronenberg last month and has the pair entered at Ballindenisk, brought four horses to Tyrella on Saturday, when the 2024 Eventing Ireland season eventually got under way after the weather-affected delays.

The quartet all fared well. Nycarlos H, who jumped at 1.20m level in Cavan the previous weekend, finished second in the EI90; Dolmen Stellor Design, “who has taken a long time to grow”, finished fifth in a division of the EI100; with 1.2 cross-country time penalties, LEB Rebelle placed seventh in the EI110; and OnceUponATime won the EI115.

Deirdre Connolly’s home-bred Irish Sport Horse mare by Barely-A-Moment led throughout that 10-runner class although a fence down show jumping, for a total of 26.7 penalties, narrowed her advantage over the Steven Smith-partnered Strangford, who completed on his first phase score (28.4). None of the eight combinations who set out over the cross-country course had a problem with the fixed fences.

“One or two of the dressage arenas were soft enough, but the show jumping was great as was the cross-country – it was just great to get out!” said Co Meath-based Ennis, who has been drawn 29th of 82 with Grantstown Jackson at Badminton. “I thought about entering this mare at Ballindenisk but, as she needed this 3* MER, I decided against it. She will now be aimed at the three-star long or short at Millstreet, with the eight and nine-year-old class at Blenheim in September being her seasonal target.”

OnceUponATime, who won the five-year-old section of the young event horse finals when the RDS national championships were held at Lambertstown in August 2021, is out of the Maltstriker mare Monicas Dream Choice. Busy at home, Connolly was unable to travel to Tyrella on Saturday but, hopefully, will have all her mares foaled by the time Millstreet comes around. Two older horses won the divided EI100.

In Section A, the honours went to the Abby Cummiskey-ridden British-bred gelding Crackerjack VIII, Sandi Thompson’s 18-year-old Catherston Gold Storm gelding, completing on the winning dressage score (22 penalties) he was awarded by Penny Sangster.

Yvette Truesdale’s winner of the flat work phase in Section B was Alex Houston with her home-bred newcomer My Atlantic Encore (27 penalties), a seven-year-old daughter of Centre Stage. However, a fence down show jumping saw them finish third behind Cathal Daniels and another ISH mare, Hans Kuehnle’s Tullibards Bennys Optima (28.3).

This eight-year-old by Tullibards Bennys Legacy is out of the Holstein mare Optima (by Carthago), dam previously of the Lux Z mare Tullibards Miss Optimistic (CSI3*) and from the family of Cavalier Royale. Last season, when ridden by Patrick Whelan, Tullibards Bennys Optima won an EI100 first time out at Kilguilkey House in August. She then finished third of 34 in the EI100 national championship at the same venue the following month and third of 39 in the CCI1*-Intro at Ballindenisk. The bay’s 2023 campaign concluded when she finished 36th of 81 in a similar international class at Kronenberg in October.

Daniels had four other rides on Saturday and finished fourth on three of them and fifth on the other.