Sligo rider on song at AIRC National Hunter Trials Championships

AIRC National Hunter Trials BR Farm
HUNTER TRIALS DOUBLE: Karl Dolan notched up two wins out of two at the AIRC National Hunter Trials Championships at Flowerhill Equestrian Centre in Galway. (FW40-531NN) PICTURE: courtesy of Sagittarian Photography

STRACOMER rider, Karl Dolan picked up his first win of the day in the Young Horse class aboard his five-year-old brown gelding, ‘Kardoen’, in perfect underfoot conditions and glorious sunshine on Sunday, September 20.

Dolan registered one of three clear jumping rounds in the competition over Oliver Walsh’s 18-fence track, which included 24 jumping efforts, but his time of 5 minutes 37 seconds left him on a total of 13 penalties, as the Sligo rider was ahead of the target of 6 minutes.

James O’Meara was next best on ‘Abington Lady’, a five-year-old chestnut ISH mare. The Anvil rider flew around the course, but racked up 62 penalties for being too fast across the country.

The championships used an optimum time rather than against the clock, while competitors were given a 20 second window to complete the course, however, if they finished outside of this, they incurred time penalties.

Dolan notched up his second win of the day in the Mixed Pairs class, with his clubmate Tara Fergus Sheridan (‘Tirconaill River Rose’). The Stracomer duo were the only pair to finish on a clean sheet, after Tynagh’s Thomas Daniels (‘Barnaboy Jackeen’) had to settle for second place for the second year in a row with his teammate Stephen Greene (‘Indian Puzzle’) from Tir Conaill on five time penalties.

Karl Dolan was delighted with his results: “I have owned ‘Kardoen’ since a he was three-year-old and he wouldn’t have seen many cross-country fences before Sunday, so he stepped up to the challenge exceptionally well and answered all of the questions asked of him.

“In the pairs, I had a great lead from Tara on her experienced mare, so all I had to do was keep up and stay clear which we did, and Tara judged the time to perfection,” he added.

Denise Murphy jointly won the Advanced Primary championship with Anne Nixon, where clear jumping rounds were plentiful among the field of 54 competitors. Only 12 riders, however, completed the course on a clean sheet when time was factored into the equation.

Denise Murphy (‘SHL Point Taken’) and Anne Nixon (‘Its Miller Time’) both crossed the line in a time of 5 minutes 42 seconds to share the spoils between Earls Well in Cork and Mosstown in Longford.

It was Anne Nixon’s second time of asking, having picked up time penalties last year, while it was Denise Murphy’s first national outing for the Cork club.

Springmount’s Jenny Jakeman completed the podium after ‘Black Comedy’ stopped the clock three seconds ahead of the optimum time.

Murphy said afterwards: “I was delighted to win on Sunday, it’s my first year in the riding clubs, so my first time in Flowerhill and I have to say the event was brilliantly run. Although the course was challenging, which was to be expected, the foot perfect conditions made it a lot easier and I think my horse enjoyed it more than me.

“It was a brilliant atmosphere all day and there was a great buzz around the whole grounds, so the win was really just an added bonus,” she added.

Over 50 riders contested the Intermediate championship, where the top six riders all finished on a clean sheet.

With such a large field, accuracy was needed to negotiate the 18-fence track, where time proved to be hugely influential as the top two riders were both a second off the target of 5 minutes 12 seconds.

Anna Burke claimed the spoils, however, after ‘Rookery Blue’ crossed the line one second ahead of the target for Benbulben, while Ciara Shannon had to settle for the blue ribbon after her 10-year-old chestnut gelding, ‘Browneshill Barney’, stopped the clock on 5 minutes 13 seconds for Coole Lane in Carlow.

There was double delight in the Advanced Intermediate championship, where two riders shared the spoils after they could not be separated.

Five riders came home with nothing to add, leaving the clock to decide the winners. Kilrainy’s Roisin Gilsenan (‘Emerald Delight’) and Knocknamana Country’s Bernadette Decourcey (‘Lisrua River’) both registered five minutes flat and bang on the target to share the spoils.

Meaths’s Ian Quinlan was next best on ‘Cruise Control II’, with a time of 4 minutes 55 seconds to claim the yellow ribbon.

Meanwhile, in the remaining pairs competitions, a Kilkenny based club won the Advanced Primary section for the sixth year in a row. This time it was the turn of Thomastown and District, who filled the top two places. Margaret Walsh (‘The Unknown Soldier’) and Lisa O’Neill (‘Mon Petit Chou’) laid claim to the red rosettes after they were the only pair to finish their round with nothing to add.

Their clubmates Aine Nolan (‘Persian Knight’) and Jade Douglas had to settle for second place after they picked up two time penalties for their time of 6 minutes 12 seconds.

Clear jumping was plentiful in the Intermediate section, but only three pairs came home within the allotted time to finish on a clean sheet.

Siobhan Connell (‘Dravid’ (GB)) and Dermot Hebron (‘Derisney Glen Cool Dancer’) claimed the win for Mosstown.

Letterkenny’s Rachel Carton (‘Aughavannon Merlin’) and Anne Chambers (‘Condors Lucky Star’) were next best in a time of 5 minutes 34 seconds to take the blue ribbons home to Donegal.

Almost 45 clubs from around the country took part in the Association’s first national championships of the year after all of the other remaining championships fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic or weather.

The Association would like to thank everyone for their co-operation in abiding by the Covid-19 protocols, as the event ran very differently to previous years with reduced volunteers, reduced contact with individuals, social distancing while competitors arrived, competed and went home again.

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