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Sheehy's Mayfly Lands Grand Prix on Debut

Last weekend saw the second leg take place of the Inaugural Leinster Indoor Show-jumping Championship Series. This time it was the ponies turn to take centre stage in the Kathleen Flannelly Memorial Arena at Kill International Equestrian Centre. With over 650 pre-entries made from all round the country for the show it promised to be busy weekend, with a lot of good jumping in store as the five members of the European Bronze Medal winning team were competing.

Saturday saw competitors ease into the groove and familiarise themselves and their ponies to the impressive new complex with customary D, CD and ABC classes for each height categories. Familiar faces who popped up in the winning line up on a number of occasions on Saturday morning in the 128cms classes included Joseph Sweeney (Theo Lite and Rags to Riches), Gerard Clarke (Jo's Dancer and Drishogue Brandy), Bertram Allen (She's Pretty) and Lucy Bowler (She's Pretty). However, the 128 that caught the eye was the impressive combination of Daniel Mullins and I'm Otto who won the 128cms ABC with over two seconds to spare from Jenny Brennan taking both second and third on Sprinter's Magic and Woodlouse respectively.

The 138cms classes were the quieter height category of the weekend but those who did compete put in a good showing, especially James Brennan who was most consistent in dividing the CD class on Village Song Bird before going on to take the ABC on his other mount Buzzin Billy. Second place in this event went to Michael Hutchinson piping Heather Browne and Some Kinda Mr Wonderful by .15 seconds in a time of 34.15 whilst Paddy McDonagh and Ballybur Bart took fourth a mere .46seconds further back.

The largest classes of the weekend were the 148cms events. Both novice classes were well supported and saw some very good rounds and consistent riding which was encouraging to see. However, things only began to heat up when a large field used the 148cms ABC as the warm-up for Sundays more competitive action. All the big names took part in Saturday evenings event and Mark McCauley couldn't have asked for a better start to the weekend when he made it a 1-2-3. Fourth into the ring in the sixty plus field with Dalestown Susie Q, Mark set a time of 24.91. This time was to be too good for the rest of the field, even for Mark and his other two mounts. Sara Coyle and Sonic Fx enjoyed second place very briefly until Mark made that his own on Cool-E-O and was to further relegate Sara by posting a time of 25.60 on Ardfert Dancer. Eventually Sara had to settle for sixth behind Fiona Dowling on Sorrell Knight and Heather Purcell on Enoville Flight.

The remainder of the evening was fun all the way. First off the saw the relay classes combined and run as a handicap, which meant the 128cms combinations went first followed by the 138cms and 148cms. The leaders coming through from the 128cms section were Megan Sweeney on Sister Kate and James Gilmartin on Knockbeg Delight coming home in a time of 53.29. Although the bigger ponies wouldn't be able to make the turns the fleet footed 128cms' did they would be able to cover the ground and take out strides along the way. However, none of the 138cms combinations could make up the ground, with Mili McIntyre on The Masters Lady and Conall McLoughlin on Cappagh Unique coming closest and going into second place on a time of 54.30. Now it was the turn of the 148cms and anxious moments lay ahead of the Sweeney and Gilmartin connections from the West. Round by round the 128cm duo were counting down the remaining pairs as nobody could touch their time. However, with only four pairings remaining their nerves, or moreover their parents nerves were tested to the hilt. Shane Mulligan on Split Times and Heather Purcell on Paris Texas went flat to the board coming home in a time of 54.11 which was good enough to go ahead of the 138cms pairing but still not good enough to beat the dynamic duo, Sweeney and Gilmartin. Following them came what was to be the last serious threat to their time. Downey Brogan and Kilmaryl Pride set off with real intent and were in touch at the half way stage when handing over to Aidan Kileen on Kiltiera Fionn. Aidan couldn't have gone any faster, taking out strides and making the tightest of turns, only to stop the clock just over half a second outside the time of the 'little ones'.

The Fancy Dress class was divided between bareback Indian Joe (Richard Howley) and a fantastic looking Robot (Tom Foley). Whilst the last class of the night was the retiring riders, which saw Heather Purcell on Paris Texas edge out Eadaoin McLoughlin on Mr Vivo. During the presentation to Heather her father Michael was asked to enter the arena and was presented with a set of crystal glasses as winning parent of the retiring rider. This was well appreciated and indeed was a jesture of recognition to the part all parents play in producing our show-jumper of the future.

Sunday morning saw the 148ABC's back in the ring this time in a head to head speed challenge. The first semi-final saw Nicola Fitzgibbon and Kinda Groovy take on Paris Texas and Heather Purcell. This pairing were inseparable throughout and the judges had to call a re-run to decide the winner. In the meantime Cappagh Cruise and Claire Condon who was impressive throughout the previous rounds was squaring up to the previous nights winner, Mark McAuley and Dalestown Susie Q. In an exciting semi Claire went through to make it an all girl final to meet the winner of the other semi-final replay. This time Heather and Paris Texas just didn't have enough in the tank but left on a winning note by taking third when beating Mark McCauley in the third/fourth play-off. The final pair had both being most impressive throughout and was very difficult to pre-empt who the favourite was. But coming into the home straight Nicola Fitzgibbon, the Leading 148cms rider of 2003, coming straight from winning the Grand Prix in Portlaoise the previous weekend, edged ahead and never looked back.

The 138cms ABC Table C Speed class saw early leader Emmet Mullins and Pulp Panic taking the honours when posting a time of 31.18 with Niall Flynn coming closest 1.50 seconds off the pace on Class Action. The 128cms ABC Speed was to see the Mullins name take the honours again. It was a sense of Déjà-vu, as this time Daniel Mullins winner of the opening days ABC and I'm Otto made it a brace of wins with Jenny Brennan and Sprinter's Magic and Woodlouse who was also second and third on Saturday repeat their performance.

The 128cms CD Championships went to Gerard Clarke and Drishogue Brandy ahead of Shane McAuley and Neil Maguire on Scarletts Footsteps and Jazz Beat, whilst Daniel Mullins made it a hat track of wins, when landing the 128cms AB Grand Prix. The consistent James Brennan continued his form through from Saturday when winning the 138cms CD Championship on Village Songbird ahead of Louise Murphy on Harcourt Lass and Gerard Clarke on Fudge Ala-moy. Eight made it through to the 138cms AB jump-off and Mili McIntyre was first to post a clear round in a time of 26.37 riding The Masters Lady. Niall Flynn blitzed home in a time of 22.68 but had the second last down, giving him eventual third with Class Action. With the remainder of the jump-off field having at least one down last in David Blake went for a steady clear which was good enough to give him second placing on Annaghmore Boomerang.

Anthony Condon and Cappagh Chino took the lead half way through the 148cms CD on a time of 29.87 and was still in pole position with only three left to have a crack against the clock. Sara Glynn duly did and took nearly two and a half seconds off his time but Gerard Clarke was yet to go and he made the title his own when posting a time of 25.48 leaving the fences standing. The final event of the day, the 148cms AB Grand Prix again saw eight make it through to the final round to go against the clock.

The pace was set by Nicola Fitzgibbon and Glenkeen Champagne Charlie, who were first in, and clear in 33.64. Heather Purcell was to better the time with Acupulco but had left the third last on the floor. Heather was followed in by Aine Sheehy and Blessington Mayfly, who were making their Grand Prix debut. Aine in recent weeks had won two ABC classes at Kill International and this was to show as she came home clear in 32.59. Anxious moments lay ahead for Aine and her family from Kilkenny as Alan Symth and Knockbeg Aladdin looked as if her lead was to be short lived when in came home in a quicker time but knocked the last. Cappagh Cruise and Claire Condon, runners -up in the opening days event had the quickest round of the jump-off but also left one on the floor whilst Nicola Fitzgibbon and Miami Bound couldn't make a turn and had to circle which meant Aine was to deservedly win her first Grand Prix at her first effort.

This was a fantastic end to the weekend to see what this meant to an ecstatic Sheehy family from Blessington just outside Thomastown. Speaking before the competition Aine's mother Ann was nervous and hoped that Blessington Mayfly would jump well for Aine. Little did she think that her home bred 8 year old connemara by Ashfield Miller would take home the main event of the weekend.

Incidentally, Blessington Mayfly's dam was by Carna Dunn, who was by Little Heaven who was the sire of the great Dundrum. The Sheehy's bought the Dam Leam Misty from neighbour Justin Barrett over ten years ago and were only to bred the one foal which Aine has broken, ridden and brought through the ranks to win her first Grand Prix. They also have bred one foal from Blessington Mayfly, now a four year old by Silver Cloud, Blessington Silver Millar who divided the D class on Saturday. Once again Aine has accumulated over 100 points this season on this four year old gelding. And as one season draws to an end keep in mind the names, as Blessington Mayfly and Aine Sheehy is one combination that will feature strongly next season.



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