Paddy a class apart on the opening day
Waterford rider Paddy O'Donnell beat the cream of the show-jumping world when he won the opening international class on the first day of the Failte Ireland Dublin Horse Show at the RDS yesterday.
Riding the 12-year-old mare Harristown Princess, the 23-year-old from Fenor, near Tramore, devastated the opposition with a brilliant last-to-go run in the Failte Speed Stakes.
He was chasing the target-time of 71.69 seconds set by Sweden's Daniel Zetterman and Spirit Magic, and shaved more than two seconds off that to record the biggest win of his career.
O'Donnell is regularly on the national circuit, and both he and Harristown Princess have taken a step up in class during a tour of European shows in Italy, Denmark and Finland earlier this season. He was spurred on by the words of Assistant Irish Chef d'Equipe Padraig Geraghty.
He said: "Just as I was going in the ring, Padraig said 'the class is there for the taking' so I gave it everything and so did the mare -- she was great!".
The honours in the remaining two international classes went to Holland and France.
Paul O'Shea claimed fourth place on Daydream St Ghyvan Z in the Speed Stakes, which was won by Dutchman Jur Vrieling on VDL Emmerton.
The big class of the day, the €22,000 Irish Sports Council Classic, was won by reigning European Champion Kevin Staut, who pipped America's 2008 Olympic gold-medallist Laura Kraut and Cedric, for the bulk of the prize-money while Cian O'Connor came eighth with Splendor.