It was a well worth trip from Donegal to Louth last weekend for Kenneth Graham as he took the honours in the opening round of the Showjumping Ireland National Grand Prix at the Horseware Louth County Show last Saturday (22nd April). Graham was certainly on form having just returned from a successful stint away on the European Circuit, competing at Olivia and Lanaken with a full team of horses.
Riding the William Lapsley owned George he lodged the winning round of clear in 38.10 seconds. Not content with the win, Kenneth Graham returned to take another share of the prize fund when he took fifth place with his own 11 year-old Limmerick sired mare Lyrical, when clear in 39.29 seconds.
George is a 14 year-old ISH gelding by Touchdown by the Cloverhill sired mare Solas Dubh. Last year, the combination took the honours in the Gain/Alltech Grand Prix at Cavan after a short time together. This year the combination got off to a good when they took sixth place in the Connolly’s Red Mills Spring Tour in Cavan. Last February the combination were in the ribbons at Olivia with a series of good results at CSI3* level.
As expected there was a good turnout for the first round with 58 combinations battling it out in for their share of the €5,000 on offer. On duty, course designer Tom Holden set the challenge and with riders up to the task, 12 of those proceeded to the timed round.
Just back from competing in Olivia, Neal Fearon was looking to make his presence felt on home soil and he didn’t disappoint when he crossed the line aboard the Stateside Farm owned Cohiba VDL in 38.44 for second place. Winner of the Spring tour in Mullingar, James Hogg was on form when he slotted into third place with Always On My Mind when he delivered a foot-perfect performance in 38.67 seconds. Gemma Phelan didn’t put a foot wrong with Loughnavatta Indigo in a time of 39.29 for eventual fourth. Opting for the safe routes paid off for Matt Garrigan as he crossed the line with MHS La Scala with nothing to add in 41.68 for sixth place.
1. Kenneth Graham, George (38.10)
2. Neal Fernon, Cohiba VDL (38.44)
3.James Hogg, Always On My Mind (38.67)
4.Gemma Phelan, Loughnavatta Indigo (39.29)
5.Kenneth Graham, Lyrical (39.69)
6.Matt Garrigan, MHS La Scala (41.68)