Balmoral Show 2019: Showjumper Carberry is well in the mix on opening day
The Balmoral International Showjumping Arena saw a steady day for national hunt jockey and showjumper Paul Carberry, while veteran Great Britain rider Geoff Billington was all smiles.
"I've been coming here for more than 30 years and won the Grand Prix back-to-back during the Eighties," said Billington. "It's just great to be here and get round, but I would love to win the Friday Grand Prix."
Jonathan Smyth (21) from Victoria Bridge, Strabane showed his usual consistency by taking runner-up in the speed international on his 14-year-old mare Charlton Clio in a time of 68.31.
He lost out to Scots rider James Smith on Simply Splendid, who had a superb time of 66.58.
"I have six horses in Balmoral this week and am delighted with Clio," he said. "I have ridden her for 10 years and she brought me to international level and the European Juniors. This is a great start to the year and her first 2019 international class."
Cookstown rider Emily Turkington finished fifth overall on her brown gelding Legend, clear in 70.29. She is the daughter of Neil Turkington and the late Kerry Turkington, both Balmoral showjumping winners.
Londonderry showjumper Olivia Roulston kept national hunt jockey Carberry on his toes when she beat him by over a second to win the Balmoral Show Dengie Six and Seven-Year-Old Championship on the opening day.
Seven horses went through to the second round, which was won by Roulston on the home-bred mare Miss Valent, owned by Lisa Rosbotham from Dromore, County Down.
Roulston's clean pair of heels in 39.04 clinched the victory ahead of Carberry on his own horse Cranny West, who produced a fast clear in 40.78 for the runner-up slot.
Mayo rider Deane Rogan with Declan McGarry's De L'Oiseliere finished third in 43.38.
Anahilt-based Edward Little partnered HSK Sunny Jim, bred and owned by Magherafelt physiotherapist Heather Crawford, for fourth place.
Carberry was still in the money when, aboard Brandonview First Edition, he galloped to third place in the 1.35m Grand Prix, won by Vickie Anderson on Oliver Anderson's Zach.
Seven horses jumped off in the second round from 16 starters, with Anderson's clear in 40.81 well ahead of Casey Phair with her own Metralis, clear in 44.88.
Carberry would have won the competition with the fastest time of 37.93 but for tipping a fence and dropping to third.
Kilkenny showjumper Tom Hearne and Joanna Curran's Wiedum were victorious in the Bluefrog five-year-old final.
Seven riders produced opening clear rounds ahead of the jump-off, where Hearne and Wiedum were unstoppable in 55.82.
Stacey Waitling with Ashlee Brown's Omard Sansa took second place in 59.58.
Today sees the Connollys Red Mills International Spectacular start in the main arena at 9.30am followed by the Supreme hunter final at noon. The Rydale International Speed challenge kicks off at 1.15pm with the young event horse championship in the main arena at 4.30pm.
At 7pm, the Clifton Connemara High Performance class will attract many spectators as the best ponies congregate to show their athleticism and scope.