WATERFORD’s Paddy O’Donnell made a welcome return to the National Grand Prix winner’s enclosure as he rode to victory in the Gain/Alltech Grand Prix at Bannow & Rathangan Agricultural show. Riding Miriam Quelly’s HBF-Delmar, the former National Champion lodged the winning clear in 36.35 seconds and took home the lion’s share of the €4,000 in the DGM Machinery-sponsored class.

HBF-Delmar, who will later be campaigned by O’Donnell’s student Orla Quelly, is new to the Irish circuit, having come from England. She is a 10-year-old mare by Indoctro out of the Nabuur-sired Varusa. Under O’Donnell’s command they won the Connolly’s Red Mills Munster Grand Prix at Killeagh and recently took the win in the Munster Grand Prix at Dungarvan. The mare was previously campaigned by James Smith up to four-star level.

Despite the beating sun, spectators lined the arena to watch 16 starters take on the John Doyle-designed course. With riders up to the challenge, eight of those returned to contest the jump-off and six delivered double clears.

First to go against the clock, O’Donnell set the bar high when he delivered a clear with his own Tommy Kay in a time of 41.43 seconds. Bred by Amanda Kirwan, the eight-year-old is by Condios out of Midlands Fainne Oir.

This lead held only temporarily as next up, Francis Connors and Much Loved, came home in a time of 40.42 for eventual fourth place and eventually O’Donnell and Tommy K took fifth place. Owned by Highfort Stud, the seven-year-old mare is by Luidam out of Larissa II.

Tipperary rider Andrew Hodgins was next to go with Sandra and he pulled out all the stops to come home clear in 36.82 to take the lead. Owned by Hodgins, the 12-year-old mare is by Lux Z out of Thornhill Sandy. This partnership recently won the 1.35m Mervue Equine Leinster Summer Tour at Flavours of Fingal.

Paul Beecher opted for the longer lines with Glamstone and came home in a time of 38.68. His round was not good enough to demote Hodgins, but it did put him in the runner-up spot and then eventual third. Owned by Paul’s wife Serena, the 11-year-old mare was bred by W. Nijzing, and is by Berling out of Zinedine.

Double-handed in the timed round, O’Donnell returned with HBF-Delmar with his eye on the win. He set off strong and maintained this good pace, getting a very good turn back to the third fence. He took a check to the double and then negotiated a good line back to the wall before a daring gallop to the last fence took the win and demoted Hodgins into the runner-up spot.

Last of the double clears in a time of 42.49 and slotting into sixth place was Brendan Murphy and Erne Riverrun. Owned by Hugh Fitzpatrick, the nine-year-old mare is by Antaeus out of Erne Clover Z. This is a new ride for Murphy as the mare was campaigned by Jonathan Smyth at the start of the season.

Brendan Murphy and Grennanstown Max A Million - winners of Pettitt's Championships (5/6yos) at Bannow and Rathangan \ Radka Preislerova

Murphy shines

Earlier in the day, the Pettitt’s Novice Showjumping Championship, jointly sponsored by MK Horses and Michael Moran, saw 48 combinations battle it out for the €3,500 on offer. Brendan Murphy got his day off to a good start as he took the win with the Susan Fitzpatrick-owned six-year-old Greannanstown Max A Million.

The combination was fastest of the 10 double clears in 34.84. This gelding is by KEC Maximum Joe out of the OBOS Quality 004-sired OBOS Jennifer. Tracy Walshe took the runner-up place with the home-bred gelding Ballinaguilkey Fusion Exchange, clear in 34.91. This six-year-old gelding is by Tullabeg Fusion out of Ballinaguilkey Heidi (OBOS Quality).

Young rider Alexandra Hourigan played it safe with the five-year-old Eyes on Me and crossed the line with nothing to add in 36.69 for third place. The gelding was bred by Breda Pollard and is by Olympic Lux out of IMP Clover. Wesley Ryan accounted for fourth place with his own six-year-old EL Pabilto. This gelding is by Cobra out of the Guidam-sired Ballintogher Miss Patsy. Slotting into fifth place was Tomas Doyle and the six-year-old Monbeg Conspiracy, clear in 37.13. Bred by Kevin Fawl, the gelding is also by OBOS Quality out of Caheradoo Donna.

Paddy O’Donnell was also in the ribbons, taking sixth with the Michael and John Brennan-owned MHS LasVegas, clear in 37.41. Bred by Ita Brennan, the five-year-old is by Luidam out of Lady Ligustra.