With just one weekend of jumping left before the conclusion of the SJI Autumn Grand Prix, the pressure was on riders in contention of taking the title, to add some valuable points to their tally. On Saturday in Cavan Equestrian, a total of 75 combinations lined-out to contest the 1.35m Gain Equine Nutrition sponsored Grand Prix. Of the original starters, 23 pairings delivered double clears.
Following an exciting jump-off, it was Young Rider, John McEntee that took the win aboard Hip Girl, when he delivered a clear in 31.35. This was an important result for the County Down rider, as he went in to this penultimate weekend sharing the lead with Philip Gaw and Ardnacshel Coovella. The result meant that he added an extra 10 points to his tally, leaving him on 48 points.
Owned by Stephex Stables, Hip Girl is a an 11-year-old Swedish bred mare, by Hip Hop and out of the Carthago sired dam, Mysterious Girl 2. The mare has proved very consistent for McEntee, claiming two wins and three runner-up placings in this league, all of which were in Cavan.
Leitrim rider, John Mulligan was fractions of a second behind with Mohill Rosetta, clocking 31.83 for second place. A familiar face in winning line-ups in Cavan, John Floody accounted for third place with Ballyknock Diamond, when he stopped the clock in 32.39 seconds. It was a well worth trip from Waterford for Paul Beecher, as he slotted into fourth place with Danuq, when he crossed the line in 32.83.
John Floody took another share of the €2,000 fund, when he delivered a clear with Kevin and Geralyn Thompson’s Donevan Erkindale, in a time of 34.39 for fifth.
Completing the top six line-up was Longford rider, Robert Harrison, who was riding his father David’s 12-year-old mare, Landlystes Rubina, when clear in 34.62.
** Sunday 1.35 Grand Prix **
On Sunday, there was another good turnout for the 1.35m Calor Gas Grand Prix with 65 combinations going to post. Leading the victory lap on this occasion was Waterford’s Paul Beecher. Riding Danqu, which is owned by his wife Seryna, he was the was of the six double clears in the 13-way jump-off, clocking 38.05 seconds. Bred by Hans Dings BV, Danqu (KWPN) is a 12-year-old gelding, by Ustinov and out of Orame sired dam, Zamira. The gelding began his career with Beecher in 2014 and has been consistently placed in classes from 1.20m up to Grand Prix level. Last year, the combination was also successful on the European circuit, notching up wins Kronenberg CSI1*.
Taking the runner-up spot was Deane Rogan, who was riding Declan McGarry’s seven-year-old De L' Oiseliere. The combination put in a gallant try, but despite their efforts they could not catch the winner and clocked 38.46.
Third place was filled by Eddie Moloney and the TSI Equestrian owned Cruicerath Flexianna, when they raced home in 38.51. John Floody was back in the line-up, this time taking fourth place with the Denyse Hughes owned Ballyknock Diamond, when crossing the line fractions behind Moloney in a time of 38.80.
Young rider, Aisling McGuinness accounted for fifth place, when she piloted Hazel McGuinness’ Kilderrys Joint Venture to a clear in 40.21 seconds. Ger O’ Neill took the safer approach with Tim Macdonagh’s Hollypark Boom Boom and it paid off as he came home in 42.47 for sixth place.