Clarke jumps into third with victory at Dun Laoghaire Show

A capacity crowd watched Galway's Olive Clarke snatch the Grand Prix title at the Dun Laoghaire Show on Monday, riding John Melia's Butler's Pantry Spitfield.

Clarke, who added 10 points to her Ireland National Grand Prix League tally, and also won the leading rider award, said afterwards: "I am very pleased with the horse, and of course the result, and it couldn't have been more perfect because my sponsors were here to watch us today."

Only four riders made it through the jump-off with the runner-up spot going to Stephen Smith on Robert Hancock's Laraghlease Western Desert who registered the only other zero score of the final round.

Meath-based Cian O'Connor had two horses in the final six, and it was Splendor which took third place in a dazzling time of 51.06, but with a single fence down in the process.

A fifth place at Dun Laoghaire by Tholm Keane with Warrenstown Well Aware gave him enough points to overtake Grand Prix League leader Francis Connors, but with five more rounds to go in the 2008 series the title is still up for grabs, with Olive Clarke now just 10 points behind Keane in third place.

At the Connacht Summer League Carl Hanley was crowned the Fahy Sales League champion for the third successive year, thanks to a fourth place finish in Sunday’s final round at the Claregalway Equestrian Centre.

Athenry’s David O’Brien was the surprise winner of the final round, winning on Fortuna thanks to a superb effort in the jump-off. The 18-year-old’s efforts also helped secure him the league young rider award to crown a fine season.

Hanley finished a solid fourth after a clear round in the jump off which was enough to take the outright title. His main challenge this season came from Ballinasloe’s Damian Griffin, who entered the final round aware that a result that bettered Hanley’s by at least two positions was needed. Crucially, however, Griffin managed to get just one of his horses through to the jump-off leaving Hanley in pole position with three qualified.

The jump-off was high on drama with 16-years-old Jessica Burke from Gort setting the pace in the 20-horse jump with a real marker of 38.42 on Amanda 202. That ultimately was enough for third, which confirmed her position as top junior rider ahead of Irishtown’s Niamh Quinn.

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