Equestrian: Kelly fires River Foyle to victory
THE Army Equitation School's latest talent, Lieutenant Michael Kelly, stepped up to the mark to win the eighth leg of the HSI Chippison Spring Tour at Cavan Equestrian Centre on Sunday riding River Foyle.
Kelly (26) was a member of the Longford team that won the Leinster Minor Football Championship for the third time ever in 2002.
However, Gaelic Games have had to take a back seat as his career at McKee Barracks is now his priority. He has successfully taken over horses previously ridden by Captain Shane Carey, who is on a year's break.
River Foyle had an early winter break before Kelly began riding him in January, and this first victory suggests the partnership is beginning to cement.
Fourth to go of the 12 into Sunday's jump-off, they set a good target when clear in 40.67 seconds and none of the rest could better that.
"I didn't overdo it against the clock because we are still just getting to know each other, so I was even more delighted with the win," said the rider from Carrickedmond in Longford, who now plans to step up to a higher level of competition in the Premier League which begins next month.
The runner-up spot on Sunday went to Mayo's Alex Duffy and Flogas Ucorado, who were just under a second off the pace, while Linda Courtney slotted into third with HTwo. Fourth place went to former Equitation School man, Derek McConnell, riding Macushla, who is owned by RTE's Tom McGurk.
Kelly also has Carey's speed-horse Cashla Bay in his string this season along with the exciting eight-year-old mare Lough Foyle who, previously known as Major Chance, is out of the same Cruising mare as River Foyle.
Lough Foyle is showing huge promise having won the Irish Horse Board (IHB) 6/7 Year Old qualifier in Mullingar last June before taking the IHB title at Tattersalls and then winning the first 6/7 Year Old qualifier at the Dublin Horse Show.
Conor Swail was runner-up on Mojito in the Grand Prix at Vilamoura in Portugal on Sunday while Shane Breen steered Cambin to third at Moorsele, Belgium.