The Fahey Sales Showjumping League is poised for a most dramatic final next weekend in Claregalway.
Ballinasloe’s Damian Griffin has kept the title battle alive after an almighty effort in Turlough on Sunday. He finished second behind Knockmore’s Alex Duffy who showed tremendous poise and confidence on Courtown to take his second Grand Prix victory of the season.
However it is Carl Hanley from Claremorris who remains in front in the league standings with 45 points, but his lead is now just four points over Griffin, ensuring the overall title hangs in the balance.
Mark Duffy from the Claregalway Equestrian centre is looking forward Sunday’s concluding round. “It’s an honour for us to be holding the final round this year and it should be a gripping conclusion with Damian and Carl battling for the title.”
This year’s title chase has been the most competitive yet with reigning champion Carl Hanley being pushed all the way by Tomas O’Brien, Matt Gordon, and Damian Griffin. The Ballinasloe native is the last man standing. Although just four points behind, he needs a win on Sunday and for Hanley to finish third or worst, to claim to the title in a league which is now in its third year.
“Thomas Fahey and Fahey sales have been tremendous supporters from the very beginning and they are very much committed to the league,” Duffy added. “I think the crowds and entries are bigger than ever and the event is producing more top riders from the region with our local talent getting a chance to ride competitively in the west and the best horses being available to them more regularly.”
The Claregalway show is expected to attract bumper crowds on Sunday with the Grand Prix starting at 2:30pm with a novel ‘ride and drive’ fun event finishing the day. That will include the top six riders from each of the main events and involve a course of six fences, followed by an obstacle course on a quad bike provided by Fahey Sales.
Special guest on the day will be jockey Paul Carberry who is currently out of racing action and will be taking part in the 1.20 metre class as well as the novel event to round off the day’s entertainment.
The Turlough show, just outside Castlebar, saw a total of 53 entries on Sunday with 16 horses going clear in the first round. Incredibly Carl Hanley managed to qualify five horses for the second round, leaving him in pole position to extend his overall lead by finishing ahead of Griffin - who had just the one horse in the jump off.
Griffin delivered his best round of the season, moving into second with a time of 37.23 riding the highly rate Lissy Egan Clover Diamond.
There was no shortage of drama in the pony classes at Turlough either with Clodagh Lee from Headford taking victory in the 138 ABC final on board Dandelight. Lee’s jump off time put her ahead of some stiff competition form Sligo’s Shannon Howley who finished second on Anagowan.
In Crossmolina on Saturday Jessica Lee from Headford stole the headlines with two fine victories in the pony classes winning the 138 ABC and taking first and second in the 148 5, 6, and 7-year-old class.