Showjumping season prepares for thrilling finale

The Fahey Sales Grand Prix league is set for a thrilling finale in the coming weeks with three of the region’s leading riders battling it out for top honours. Darragh Kenny from Offaly won Saturday’s Loughrea Grand Prix but it was the performance of Ballinasloe’s Damian Griffin that proved crucial as his second place finish moved him within five points of overall leader and reigning champion Carl Hanley.

Claremorris native Hanley leads on 38 points ahead of next weekend’s penultimate event in Turlough Castlebar while Griffin has 33 and Crossmolina’s Matt Gordon is on 27. The league will finish in two weeks time in Claregalway with points and a half on offer for the top 10 riders.

Saturday’s Grand prix in Loughrea was in keeping with an all round tremendous show. Niamh Quinn from Irishtown was again to the fore in the €3,000 Grand Prix, the 16 year old finished fifth edging out some of the province’s leading challengers.

In the amateur class Ciaran Feeney from Mervue secured a memorable second place on board Carna Valley behind winner Lorna Conroy. Tynagh’s Ollie Staunton finished fourth on Bendeas. The other main events also had some competitive action with Ballindine’s Eric Glynn pulling off a fine all round display, fourth in the 1.10 metre and winning the 1.20 metre class on Illy Dequinncy.

Sunday’s events were reserved solely for ponies and two Galway winners stole the headline. In the 128 ABC Tim McDonnagh on Ratherwood Dinty Toy took first while Headford’s Raphael Lee finished second on Silver Legend. Paul Lynch from Kiltormer came fourth. In the 138 ABC class Jessica Lee from Headford took first place on Eye Wonder with Martin O’Brien from Loughrea in second on Lavally Dancer.

Next weekend two of the region’s leading pony riders will be heading for Switzerland to represent Ireland in the European Pony Championships. Jessica Burke from Gort and Sligo’s Richard Howley will be part of the Nations Cup team going for glory and all Connacht equestrian fans will be wishing them luck with their endeavours.

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