Lennon's Royal pride as he celebrates a stunning triumph in International
A Tyrone bred bay mare named Mullabrack Royal Pride, partnered with former world champion Dermott Lennon, made her mark at Balmoral yesterday when she won the Connollys Red Mills International.
It has been a remarkable month for the mare who won two classes at Hamburg Horse Show last week before triumphing again yesterday at the Royal Ulster.
Lennon also won in Hamburg with Victoria Loan's Gelvins Touch.
Bred by Cyril Ferguson, the mare Mullabrack Royal Pride was competed formerly by Markethill man Conor McEneaney for Zoe Harvey from Gilford, before moving to the Banbridge farm of Lennon at Ballyskeagh.
Now Mullabrack Royal Pride is tipped as his potential major championship horse.
He explained: "The mare was brought on gently in her early career by Conor McEneaney, she came to me at Christmas and I am taking her slowly through the ranks.
"She excelled in Hamburg and now a big win at Balmoral.
"She is my hope for the Grand Prix and then we have Mullingar International. She will get experience at Grand Prix level and the bigger shows."
British rider Keith Shore was second to Lennon in the Red Mills International, but nobody was more delighted than Canadian rider Rebecca McGoldrick - and Fleur IV - to finish third.
McGoldrick trains in Banbridge with Lennon and gave him a run for it in Balmoral.
He added: "Rebecca has been training with us for five years and her bay mare was just over a second slower."
Tom Jones from County Cavan made the journey to Balmoral to cheer on Lennon since his stallion Aldato is the father of Royal Pride.
"It has been a great show, I have a few horses competing here with my breed lines and I have come up to support the riders," he said.
Another up and coming star from the Lennon camp is Vivalgot, which finished 10th in the Rydale Speed and Power class.
"He is bred by Vivaldo, owned by Lady Georgina Forbes in Longford out of my world championship winning mare Liscalgot. The syndicate in Northern Ireland who own him are delighted with his progress and this horse will go all the way," he said.
Ulster breeders can take pride in the high class of bloodstock on view in the main arena this week.
Neat Krakatoa, bred by Nicola Tang from Maghera and now competing with Federico Fernandez for Mexico, competes in La Baule Nations Cup show this weekend and is heading to Dublin Show in August. Now renamed Guru, he started his early career at Balmoral Show.
US rider Veronica Tracy, who took over the ride on the Donegal owned stallion Zuidam which won many events in Balmoral with Derry's Daniel Coyle, claimed the Rydale International Power and Speed event at the Maze show.
When Coyle was contracted to showjump in the USA where he has been winning consistently, Paul Carr from Letterkenny sent the horse to Greg Broderick whose pupil Tracey took the reins.
Carr was ecstatic when Tracy steered the chestnut stallion to victory in the power and speed class which had 41 starters.
The father of two breeds 20 mares a year on his farm on Fanad Head and has celebrated too many Balmoral wins with Zuidam - who gave a foot perfect performance - to name.
Paul Barker and Happy Boy, winners on Wednesday, were runners up to Zuidam while McGoldrick again occupied third place with the bay gelding Duco.
The power and speed class required riders to go against the clock for the first half, then in the second half exhibit their power over six vertical fences two strides apart. It was the line-up of verticals which saw many riders kick out poles.
Carr, whose late father bought many foals at the Zangersheide auctions in Belgium in the early 80s, has kept all the bloodlines and Zuidam is the superstar.
"I have horses with Greg Broderick and Zuidam has had so many wins with Daniel Coyle that I have lost count. To win in Balmoral is a great feeling and the grass arena gives horses a real prep for Dublin Show," he said.
John Chambers, Federation Equestre Internationale-affiliated and former Olympic steward at the Athens and Beijing Olympics, is the official starter in the showjumping arena at Balmoral.
The Omagh native, and former showjumper, said: "I have been to two Olympic games as an official steward and visited Aachen and many other leading venues, but I can truly say that this footing at Balmoral Park is probably the best grass footing I have seen. You wouldn't see a mark when the horses jump, it has plenty of 'give'."
Showjumping today sees the AON Risk Services Accumulator start at 11.30am in the main arena; Racehorse to Riding Horse, 12.45pm; and the RUAS and Bottle Green HSI Grand Prix at 2.15pm
The Inter Hunt Chase, sponsored by Wilsons Auctions, is a crowd favourite and will take place at 4pm.
Results: Connollys Red Mills International Spectacular: 1 Dermott Lennon IRE Mullabrack Royal Pride 0-0 42.70; 2 Keith Shore GB Iron Lady Van T Meulenhof 0-0 43.60; 3 Rebecca McGoldrick CAN Fleur IV 0-0 43.74
Rydale International Speed and Power: 1 Veronica Tracy USA Zuidam 0 39.84; 2 Paul Barker GB Happy Boy 0 39.89; 3 Rebecca McGoldrick CAN Duco 0 40.94.
Holmestead Saddlery International Stakes: 1 Kerry Brennan GB Wellington M 0 0 40.77; 2 Graham Lovegrove GB Alfie 192 0 0 41.29; 3 Capt Geoff Curran IRE Hallowberry Cruz 0 0 41.76