Wednesday 29 March 2017

In brief: Lofty placings for Irish quartet

Equestrian

Four Irish lady riders claimed top placings in Grand Prix competitions across Europe yesterday.

At the 5-Star show jumping fixture in St Gallen, Switzerland, Jessica Kuerten steered Lektor into fifth spot in the event won by Britain's Nick Skelton (Carlo), while Shane Sweetnam slotted into eighth with Amaretto D'Arco.

At the 4-Star show at Bourg-en-Bresse, France, 23-year-old Nicola FitzGibbon and Puissance finished fourth. And at Vimeiro in Portugal, Marion Hughes won the 3-Star Grand Prix riding Heritage Fortuna, which was quickest in the 10-horse jump-off.

Meanwhile, Anna Merveldt, produced a spectacular second-place finish in the Grand Prix Special at the 5- Star fixture in Munich on Saturday. Riding Coryolano, she scored 70.292 to finish behind British winner Richard Davison (Hiscox Artemis).

Athletics

David Gillick opened his season with a low-key 46.80 run in Florida before heading to the Diamond League in New York next weekend, writes Cliona Foley.

The DSD star, whose Irish record is 44.77, was just using the NTC meeting in Clermont as a warm-up and his Florida training partner Jason Smyth ran in 10.29 in the 100m at the same event.

Mary Cullen (North Sligo) could only finish 11th (in 33:02.77) at the European 10,000m Cup in Oslo, won by Portugal's Sara Moreira in 31:39.11. Gary Thornton (Galway City Harriers) was 13th in the men's 'B' race (in 30:402.99) but Joe Sweeney (DSD) failed to finish in surprisingly hot conditions.

Motorsport

Connacht Competition Engines Hillclimb Champion Simon McKinley increased his stranglehold on this year's series by taking another weekend double in the Carlow Sprints at Athy and Bagenalstown.

His Lant was three seconds clear of the Jedi of John Byrne on Saturday at Moat of Ardscull, but his winning margin yesterday was reduced to 1.6 seconds, giving him seven wins from eight starts this year.

Tennis

Conor Niland yesterday clinched a place in the final round of qualifying in the top-tier ATP World Tour event at the Queen's Club in London.

The Irish No 1 defeated Mexico's Santiago Gonzalez in the outdoor grass court event 1-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3.

Elsewhere, James McGee lost to Spain's Arnau Brugues-Davi 7-5 6-7 (6/8) 7-6 (7/0) in the final of an ITF Futures event in Madrid.

Irish Independent

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