A COMBINATION of sunny weather and good ground, were among the winning ingredients for a much-applauded event fixture at Hillcrest last Sunday.

Marking the opening of the Munster region season, the O’Donnell family’s popular event featured a number of new upgrades which included two new all-weather dressage arenas and a second water complex.

As organisers and hosts, Rodney and Beth O’Donnell have transformed this venue since its launch at the end of 2019, and in yet another fresh, and much appreciated move, the dressage ran in two sessions, so that those in the later classes did not have such a long day.

The regard in which this event is now held has had a knock-on effect, in that the increase in numbers has extended the logistics of running it successfully. “We are really grateful for all our volunteers,” commented O’Donnell. “We had lots of new faces and they all had a very long day.”

Foot perfect

Following such a disrupted start to the season, riders bound for this weekend’s international at Ballindenisk were keen to clock up some mileage. One such competitor was Lucy Latta who, having made the long journey from Co Wexford was rewarded with a good win in the EI 115 (O).

Teaming up with Lesley and David Crampton’s CCI3* bound RCA Patron Saint, Latta shared second spot on the flat, before delivering two foot perfect jumping rounds with only six seconds to add. The former pony and junior international rider now splits her time between working full-time in Dublin and her home in Wexford, where she currently has two horses on the circuit.

“I also work remotely from home when I can which helps,” said Latta, who was delighted with the son of Grafenstoltz. “He has taken a little time, but was really consistent in all three phases today. It was a lovely track, with plenty of hills and one that needed a fit horse. Another thing I really like is the fact that they ran the EI 115 show jumping before the cross-country – which training wise is brilliant.”

In a class in which the time across the country was hugely influential, a slower round by dressage leaders Alex Donohoe and Guidam Roller demoted them to second, from Daniel Meagher with A Classic Sportsfield.


The EI115 restricted winner Dominic Furnell had far less distance to travel from his home in Crecora, and filling three of the top five placings on his first outing this season will have been rewarding.

In a class where none of the seven runners achieved the time allowed, Furnell sped around on Thomas Jones’ home-bred Ivanhoe, to produce the fastest time of the class and move up from an opening fourth spot. The eight-year-old Ivanhoe is by the German thoroughbred Wounderwall out of Amazon Cruise by Cruising.

A half-brother to the 1.30m Belgium based jumper Go Cruise, and also to the American campaigned event horse Call The Law (CCI2*), Ivanhoe has been with Furnell for two years. He has been quietly campaigned in the interim, and now heads to the Millstreet international in May.

“I’m happy with him,” stated Furnell. “He’s a machine across the country, and is getting the hang of the show jumping. He still gets a bit tense in the dressage, but he was relaxed today and he’s going in the right direction. This was a really good track, with plenty of skinnies and two water jumps – a proper prep for a four-star.”

Time penalties proved expensive both for the second placed Alyssa O’Neill aboard the consistent Danos Lola, and also for Emma Hosey who completed in third spot with her dressage leader Borris Kings Quality.