Hanley's dream comes true with brilliant day in the sun
Glorious sunshine prevailed at the Stena Line Dublin Horse Show at the RDS yesterday where 22-year-old Cormac Hanley opened the 2019 event by winning the first international of the day, having flown his horses in from Chicago on Saturday.
The rider told his father, Charles, last week that he was planning to win the opening class, having taken his 12 horses from Pennsylvania to catch a flight from Chicago to Dublin.
Hanley partnered Copain Z, owned by Heathman Farms, to win the Speed International in 59.94 seconds, beating Irish colleague Anthony Condon with Zira V, clear in 60.31, to occupy second place.
John Hales, who owns the horse, was inventor of the famed Teletubbies with the Golden Bear company and is one of the best known owners in Great Britain.
Charles Hanley said: "Cormac has ridden here for years in the ponies class but this is his first ever win in the main arena. He is based in the USA and his owners flew the horses from Chicago. They all came to the show today and are over the moon.
"When Cormac said he was going to win the opening class, I said to him just jump well all week. He is so determined, he actually has made his own dream come true."
Derry's Olivia Roulston excelled in the Young Riders jump-off class in the main arena to take a worthy second behind Jack Brennan on board MHS Central Park.
Brennan, one of three jump-off riders from 16 starters, won in 42.47, while Roulston, on board Erico, owned by Keonan Stables, was clear in 42.99 ahead of third placed Hannah O'Shea and Ciao Bella.
Cian O'Connor impressed to win the Minerva Stakes Speed International with his 11-year-old Guidam-sired gelding Diego from 33 starters, stopping the clock in 61.64 and beating GB rider Holly Smith with Ruby VIII, clear in 64.87.
Olympian O'Connor said: "It's always good to get a win early in the week here. It gives you a great boost. Diego is a super little horse. I borrowed him from my student Nicola Pohl.
"I rode him in Aachen a few weeks ago and he won the Speed Derby there so I am looking forward to the Speed Derby here in Dublin. He is brave."
Ireland's Ger O'Neill gave chase in 64.88 for third place with Jack van het Dennehof beating Olympian Ben Maher on F One USA.
Paul O'Shea kept the Irish flag flying once again to win the Sport Ireland Classic with Imerald Van't Voorhof in a class where Irish riders dominated, taking first to sixth place from 52 starters.
Darragh Kenny and Romeo 88 were on 66.73 behind O'Shea's 63.12, while the stylish and talented Susan Fitzpatrick on Fellow Castlefield slotted into third ahead of colleagues Shane Sweetnam, Richard Howley and Shane Breen.
Kian Dore won the 128cms pony class in which Moy rider India Heffron finished fourth on Dandy. Ellen Power with Bear Me In Mind won the 138cms pony class ahead of Coen Williams and Patrick Fleming, with top seven finishes for John Kirrane, Sarah Fitzgerald, Robert Russell and Jenny Dunlop.
Omagh's Niamh McEvoy was on top form to claim runner-up in the 148cms pony class with her Dublin 2019 champion Fireman.
McEvoy chased winner Rhys Williams with Keatingstown Hunky Dory on a clear in 34.61 to finish runner-up in 36.44.
The top six who qualified for the showpiece final included fourth placed Max Foley and Orla Duffy in fifth spot, while sixth went to Ellie Rose Cassidy.
Jason Foley's Dawson's Flex won the six-year-old qualifier in the main arena, with Tim Page in second on Hillcoote Border Fox and Clones rider Clement McMahon in third with TJM Amour Fou.
Today is Ladies Day at the Show. The main arena features event horses until 1pm; the Speed Derby International at 1.25pm; Santi Serra and his wild horses at 3.15pm; the Stablelab Stakes at 3.30pm; and the Centenary Stakes, Battle of the Sexes at 6.10pm.