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Balmoral Park's GP show backed to be big success



Horsesport Ireland chief Ronan Murphy

Horsesport Ireland chief Ronan Murphy

Horsesport Ireland chief Ronan Murphy

Balmoral Park stages this weekend's triple Grand Prix show as the Ulster Region hosts two days of Championship showjumping at the world-class Maze venue.

Horsesport Ireland chief Ronan Murphy has welcomed the behind-closed-doors event, which features the Horsesport Ireland Premier Series €12,000 (£10,800) Grand Prix, the penultimate leg before the final at Portmore, Aghalee in September.

"We are very much looking forward to the HSI Premier Series GP at Balmoral Park, although it is a pity spectators cannot enjoy the competition during these times. But we are happy that athletes and owners have a chance to compete for a significant prize fund," he said.

Murphy added: "We wish all the athletes and owners the very best of luck and thank Sport Ireland, Sport NI and the NI Executive for their help in getting our sport up and running."

Committee member Michael Cave commented: "To have a show with no less than three Grand Prix events, Ulster Tour and National Tour plus Grand Prix finals for all heights is fantastic for the sport.

"Everyone has worked incredibly hard to ensure horses continue to compete. There is strict protocol and riders know the rules."

Former world champion Dermott Lennon, London Olympic bronze medallist Cian O'Connor and a host of European pony gold medallists, including Kate Derwin (Athlone) and John McEntee (Banbridge), will be among those contesting the opening Underwriting Exchange National 1.40m Grand Prix.

Crumlin teenager Annie Courtney Caddam, with LCC Empty Pockets - owned by her mother Linda - and Moy rider Frank Curran, with Cliodhna Breen's Ard ragh Chekoff, are locals on the starter list.

Fintona's Rolex Young Rider squad ace Jenny Rankin, who made her name with Benny's Legacy at the Global Champions Tour, Chantilly, has no less than three in the Grand Prix for Malahide owner Barry O'Connor. She moved to the Malahide yard before lockdown and has 14 horses in her charge.

Jonathan Smyth, with multiple Grand Prix winner Crystal Tom and his other jumpers Charlton Clio and Kilderry's Diamond, will pose a strong challenge, as will another local pair in Dr John McLaughlin (Derry) and Lower Ballinderry's Luke Campbell.

Derwin has three horses owned by the Derwin family and 18-year-old Enniskillen rider Katie Conlon brings Ping Ball, who was fourth recently in the Premier GP series.

Rising stars Kenneth Graham of Moville, Omagh's Mackenzie Healy and Portmore GP winner Campbell are all in the mix as well.

Smyth's uncle Peter is a strong contender, as is National Hunt jockey Paul Carberry with his multiple-winning Brandonview First Edition.

Girl power now dominates Irish showjumping with strong challenges expected from Rebecca McGoldrick, based in Banbridge, and Susan Fitzpatrick with her team. Both women have already had impressive GP wins this season.

Tomorrow sees the Ulster Tour 1.35m GP including a whole host of rising stars such as Olivia Roulston, Laura Brown McCann, Caitlin Taggart, Casey Phair, Charlotte Harding, Ellen Thompson, Ellie Humphries and Natasha Carolan.

There are 53 riders scheduled for the HSI Premier GP, with a five-star line-up including the consistent Elizabeth Power and Doonaveragh O One, Smyth and Crystal Tom, Capt Geoff Curran with the Ministry of Defence showjumping team and Cian O'Connor with his new French horse Careca.

Leading trainers Campbell, Angela Waras, Johnny O'Connell, James Kernan and Barry O'Connor have all donated training bursaries to winning young riders finals.

Belfast Telegraph