Irish riders run rampant with three wins out of three on opening day
The visitors didn't get a look in on the opening day of international main-arena action at the Stena Line Dublin Horse Show at the RDS yesterday, where Irish riders ran rampant, winning all three classes and filling the top-six places in the closing Sport Ireland Classic.
US-based Cormac Hanley (22), from Mayo, kicked off with victory in the Speed Stakes, pinning British-based Waterford man Anthony Condon (Zira V Kapelhof) into the runner-up spot while French rider Mathieu Billot (Dassler) slotted into third.
Then it was the turn of Meath's Cian O'Connor to throw down the gauntlet in the Dublin Airport Central Minerva Stakes, scorching home with Diego in 61.64 seconds to make it a double.
"It's always good to get a win here early in the week, it gives you a great boost," said the man who claimed bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
"Diego's a super little horse, I borrowed him from my student Nicola Pohl and I rode him in Aachen and he won the Speed Derby there, so he'll be going in the Derby here tomorrow", he confirmed.
Britain's Holly Smith (Ruby) lined up second in this one ahead of Kilkenny's Ger O'Neill (Jack van het Dennehof) in third, but it was a complete Irish whitewash in the Sport Ireland finale.
Paul O'Shea and the 11-year-old Belgian-bred Imerald van't Voorhof posted a super-fast target-time of 63.12 seconds when 28th to go of the 53 starters, and couldn't be caught.
O'Shea (42), from Kildimo in Limerick, was more than three seconds quicker than Offaly's Darragh Kenny (Romeo) in second, and lining up behind them were Kilkenny's Susan Fitzpatrick (Fellow Castlefield), Cork's Shane Sweetnam (Kirschwasser), Sligo's Richard Howley (Chinook) and Tipperary's Shane Breen (Golden Hawk).
Results - Sport Ireland Classic: 1, Imerald van't Voorhof (P O'Shea) IRL 63.12; 2, Romeo (D Kenny) IRL 66.73; 3, Fellow Castlefield (S Fitzpatrick) IRL 68.10; 4, Kirschwasser (S Sweetnam) IRL 68.94; 5, Chinook (R Howley) IRL 70.45; 6, Golden Hawk (S Breen) IRL 70.63.