SARAH Ennis took the weekend out to win the CCI4*-S at Ballindenisk but, on Wednesday, she returned to Wexford Equestrian where she maintained her excellent run of form by winning both Childéric Saddles-sponsored young event horse classes.
This was the fourth and last assessment day in this year’s Stepping Stones to Success League ahead of next Thursday’s final and, as also termed Viewing Day, all cross-country rounds were filmed and can be watched on the Irish Sport TV website. Videos of the top 10 horses/ponies in each class can also be viewed on the Stepping Stones and Wexford Equestrian Facebook pages.
In the four-year-old division, Ennis and Zena Ryle’s Ardeo Grand Slam comfortably topped the scores in the Ian Fearon and Chris Ryan-judged jumping phase with 147.5 points, moving them up from second (64.9) after dressage to win on a total of 212.4. The winners of the Mark Ruddock-assessed flat work phase, Jessica O’Driscoll and Coolcorron Beacon Hill (66.5), dropped down the leaderboard to eighth as, over the show jumping and cross-country tracks, they accumulated just 117.5 points to complete on 184.
Ardeo Grand Slam and Coolcorron Beacon Hill are on 20 points apiece heading into next Thursday’s final of the League, when points and a half are on offer, with Louise Codd lying third, two points adrift, on Trevor Horgan’s Chinook Eclipse gelding, Hidden Eclipse. That combination finished fifth (186.6) on Wednesday, just behind the League’s fifth-placed pairing on 15 points of Sean Looney and Ballinagore Maximus (189).
On Wednesday, Ennis and Ardeo Grand Slam, a chesnut by Cool Diamond Star out of an unregistered dam, finished just over 10 points clear of the rider’s sister Nicola and Carrie Meehan’s Irish Sport Horse gelding MBF Silver Bridge (202.3) who are in fourth place in the League on 16 points.
“Carrie, who lives in the States, bought the horse as an unbroken three-year-old from Meabh Bolger and Brian Flynn and left him with them for Brian to break,” reported Ennis. “I got him in late September, early October and have been tricking away with him since.” By the Dutch Warmblood stallion Silvano, MBF Silver Bridge was bred in Co Kilkenny by John Murphy out of an unraced thoroughbred mare by Beneficial.
“He is a very attractive, very nice horse and hopefully the Young Eventhorse Series and Dublin Horse Show go ahead as it’s Carrie’s ultimate goal to have a horse in Dublin!” continued the rider. “She had a mare with me last year and had her flights, etc. booked to come over for the Show only for everything to be cancelled – she has rebooked everything for this year! Carrie (Gold To Blue Sporthorses) buys a good few horses here to go to the States but likes to leave one with a professional to produce and ultimately sell on.”
Nicola and her husband, Karl Smyth, are in the process of finishing off a new yard at their home in Kilmessan with the rider/producer working for the past year out of a yard in Oldtown owned by Michele Dennigan, owner/breeder of the Ennis-ridden Novice eventer, Out Of Print. “I’ve eight horses in work (including Liam Lynskey’s home-bred DS Are You Cruising who was 10th on Wednesday), so I’ve a busy day and it will be great when our own yard is up and running and I don’t have to do so much travelling.”
Co Wicklow-based veterinary surgeon and equine dentist Aoife Quigley finished third on Wednesday on the ISH gelding Kilcandra JT (189.4). Quigley once again returned to the Kildandra Stud of Claire and Vincent Cousins to buy this son of Orestus who is out of the Orbis mare Kilcandra Lily de Noche and is thus a full-brother to the Yasmin Ingham-ridden mare Kilcandra Vanessa (CCI3*-S).
In Wednesday’s five-year-old class, Sarah Ennis finished first, third and fifth respectively on Wendy Harris’s Colandro gelding Silken Icon (201.5), Michael Phillips’s Barun Misty (192.7) and Diamond Fusion (191.5), a Tullabeg Fusion gelding owned by Eilish Arkwright and Sarah Oldum. Of the trio, the only one not previously placed in the top three was Barun Misty, an ISH mare by Cobra who was bred in Co Kilkenny by Sean Warren out of the non-winning point-to-point mare Optimistic Rosie (by Roselier).
Noel Dunne placed second with the first week’s winner, Heidi Hamilton’s Conthargos gelding The Sequel (206.4) while Amanda Goldsbury was fourth on Tullibards Stud’s home-bred ISH gelding, Tullibards Bennys Special (192.4). Heading into Thursday’s final, Silken Icon is on 20 points, The Sequel is on 19 and Diamond Fusion lies third on 18.
Tricia Bracegirdle of sponsors Childéric Saddles will travel to Wexford Equestrian for the first time this year for finals day when she can be consulted about saddle fittings, etc.