THE first international show jumping competitions on Irish soil in 2022 came to an exciting end last Friday when young rider Niamh McEvoy claimed victory in the two-star £23,000 BottleGreen and Horse Sport Ireland International Grand Prix at Balmoral Show.

The 18-year-old produced a classy round to win her first international Grand Prix since moving into horses with Robin Bingham’s 12-year-old mare Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick, as well as going home with the leading international rider and leading young rider awards.

Speaking after the win, Niamh said: “I am absolutely delighted to win today in what was a very exciting class. I am also delighted for the Binghams who were here to see to see the mare win.

“We have a very strong field of young riders on the circuit at the moment and the testimony to this is how they performed this week and recently on the national circuit. I had a great week with all my horses and I am grateful to have such a good team from young horses up to this level.”

Regarding the course, she added: “I opted not to take one stride out from one to two, but I knew the mare was scopey to get the turn back to the double. She is very quick and careful which is a good combination. My plan is to continue with the National Grands Prix and Premier Series and hopefully qualify a few more for the RDS.”

Competitive field

Thirty-three combinations lined out over the Klaus Holle-designed track and eight of those managed to produce a clear in the first round. It was extremely close in the jump-off with the top four combinations all coming home with the 48-second mark. The timed round started with a big oxer down to a vertical, before turning left-handed in front of the tent to two oxers on a related distance.

Then came a tight turn back to a vertical in the middle of the arena, followed by a left-handed turn to an oxer-vertical double. The last line was an oxer down to a final tall vertical to finish; those wanted to win needed to be daring down to the last.

Riding Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick, the Omagh teenager was one of five double clear. She kept up the pace from the start. She got a very tight line back to the double, turning between the judges’ hut from the green vertical and galloped home on nine strides, breaking the beam in 47.18 secs to claim victory.

Owned by Robin Bingham and bred by Dorothea Wilson, the 12-year-old mare is by Limerick out of the Lux Z-sired dam Go Lucky. The pair are enjoying a fine run of form, picking up third place in the previous week’s 1.50m Premier Series at Barnadown, as well as fourth place in the opening round at Portmore Equestrian.

Current National Champion, Kevin Gallagher, chased McEvoy home aboard the GBBS Int Ltd-owned Ballypatrick Flamenco. He took a similar route to the winner and was just fractions slower in 47.32 secs. By Je T’Aime Flamenco, Ballypatrick Flamenco was bred by Dr Noel Cawley out Cruise Leaf (Cruising).

Another talented young rider is Max Wachman who took third place. A winner of a 1.45m earlier in the week, Wachman rode Coolmore Showjumping’s 13-year-old gelding Quintini to a clear second round in 47.40, just hundredths of a second behind the first two.

Winner of the international class on Thursday, Emma McEntee and TFM Blue added to their haul when they came home with nothing to add in a time of 47.43 for eventual fourth. Owned by John Hoyne, the Cheers Cassini-sired 13-year-old mare was bred by Deirdre McGuckian out of Tullibards Ask Benny.

The final double clear round came from Britain’s Louise Saywell with Ian Dowie’s nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse Kingsborough Kasper (Kannan x Revenge) who was bred by Cliodhna Carroll. Their time of 48.03 was good enough for fifth place and best of the non-Irish riders.

Britain also took sixth place through James Smith who guided Simply Splendid to a four-fault round in a time of 50.00. Smith also claimed the title of champion speed rider of the show and was awarded the Billy Roulston trophy which was present by the Causeway Coast Showjumpers.

In seventh place for the USA was Charlotte Jacobs with the Irish Sport Horse Rincoola Milsean (Aldatus Z x Cruising), bred by the late Harold McGahern. They faulted once in a time of 52.88. Jason Foley had 10 faults against the clock with Clyde VA to finish in eighth place, while Edward Doyle Junior (Guru) and Cian O’Connor (Taj Mahal) both picked up a single time fault in the first round to finish ninth and 10th, respectively.