Advanced Intermediate Winner Kate O’Shea with Peter Flanagan of Connolly’s RED MILLS

Kate O’Shea riding her one-eyed wonder, Send Me On, won the Advanced Intermediate championship at the Connolly’s RED MILLS sponsored National Hunter Trials Championships at Annaharvey Farm, Co. Offaly last Sunday.

31 competitors had to contend with Sam Deverall’s 20-fence course in the championship class where just three seconds separated the top three in what turned out to be one of the closest competitions on the day.

O’Shea made sure everything went to plan on this occasion as her 11-year-old ISH gelding crossed the line on the time of 5 minutes 36 seconds, with nothing to add, to land the title at the third time of asking.

The CIT final year student said afterwards: “The course was a good testing track with the second last fence, a drop bank to a skinny corner proving to be very influential. Send Me On was unfortunate to lose an eye to a tumour in 2015 but we’ve cemented a wonderful partnership together.”

Of the six riders home with clean sheets, Meath’s Ian Quinlan was next best to claim the blue ribbon after Cruise Control II came home in 5’35 ahead of Cill Dara’s Elaine Thomlinson on Ballard Big Bang on 5’37.

These championships, run by the Association of Irish Riding Clubs, used an optimum time rather that against the clock while competitors were given a 20 second window to complete the course however if they finished outside of this, they incurred time penalties.

The biggest class of the day was by far the Advanced Primary Championship where 70 competitors took to the field where just four returned home with a clean sheet.

Accuracy was needed to negotiate the course with such a large field seeking the honours but Kilkenny resident was on song to claim the honours for Nuenna Farm.

The Loughboy resident crossed the finish line exactly on the target of 6’42 with nothing to add, on his 13-year-old Irish Draught, Merry Goes Round.

Aisling Lockhart, who also put in a sterling performance on Annaharvey Royal Touch had to settle for second place on her home turf after her 15-year-old ISH bay mare came home with a clean sheet in a time of 6’37.

Mosstown’s Patricia Newman had a difficult route to victory in the Intermediate division where 65 riders sought the championship title.

Advanced Primary Winner Paul McDonald and Peter Flanagan from Connolly’s RED MILLS

Seven riders returned home with nothing to add leaving the clock to decide the honours on this occasion. Newman, however, timed her round to perfection on Nenagh, an 8-year-old bay gelding, who stopped the clock on the money in a time of 6’06.

Caroline O’Brien was next best on Tullylost Breeze in a time of 6’03 for the Rathangan club.

In the Open and Advanced Open division, Amy McDonald and Christine Keymer battled it out for the title after both riders had nothing to add across the country.

Keymer had previously won the title in 2017 when the championships were last held at Annaharvey but the Carne rider missed out by two seconds when Just A Butterfly (IRE) crossed the finish line in 5’38. McDonald’s time of 5’36 was unbeatable after Madges Lane Jinxy stopped the clock exactly on the target to claim the spoils for the Castledermot club.

Elsewhere, the Burren club filled the top three places in the Young Horse class where Simon Probin won the spoils with his four-year-old grey ISH gelding, LNG Tally Ho. The Ballinasloe resident was the only rider to complete the course with a clean sheet.

Fellow clubmate Brigid Neill was next best in second and third place riding on Woodhaven Billy and Monaghanstown Sonny respectively for the Clare based club.

Meanwhile in the pairs competition, a Kilkenny club won the Advanced Primary section for the fifth year in a row. On this occasion it was the turn of the Warrington duo of Joan Byrne (Nancys Boy) and Ann Callanan (Ruthstown Sally Charlton) who laid claim to the red rosettes.

The Kilkenny club finished just one second adrift of the target in 7’17 which gave them the advantage over Oakleaf’s Geraldine Tynan (Fisherstown Archie) and Martin Dunne (My Secret Choice) who were 3 seconds off the pace.

Last years winners, Aine Nolan (Persian Knight) and Jade Douglas (Carrigbeg Coco) had to settle for fourth place behind Lauren McLoughlin (Actinium Lily) and Lynne Thompson (Shuttlehill Impish Lass)

Advanced Primary Pairs winners Joan Byrne and Ann Callanan

Only two pairs came home on clean sheets in the Intermediate section where Dalysgroves’ Donna Murray (Kiko Temple) and Kevin Clogher (Sin E Sham) took the spoils. Their time of 6’22 placed them ahead of Jan Boons (Arraghbeg Luidam) and Sinead Boyd (Hollpark Lady) for Slieve Bloom.

In the Mixed Pairs, Sandra Phipps (MBF Pearl) and Suznne McGee ran out victors on 6-time penalties ahead of Tynagh’s Thomas Daniels (Barnaboy Jackeen) and Benbulbens Emma Lawrence (Acrefield Romeo) on 9 penalties.

Over 60 clubs from around the country took part in the Associations first national championships of the year.