International showjumping found a new superstar yesterday in the Bottlegreen Horseport Ireland Grand Prix, when Omagh teenager Niamh McEvoy set the Balmoral arena alight to win on the Ulster owned and bred mare, Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick.
A star studded cast of high profile owners entered their horses in the Grand Prix, including comedian Rory Bremner and the Magnier family of Coolmore.
John Magnier, former co owner of Manchester United, was present to watch his grandson Max Wachman take third.
McEvoy (18), renowned for her calm and determined style, showed the same winning form as her mother Maeve did when as Maeve O’Neill she claimed many pony titles at Balmoral and Dublin with her pony, Streaker.
“I am over the moon,” said the unassuming Niamh, whose has taken over the partnership with the mare owned by Templepatrick farmer Robin Bingham, which has already finished third in Dublin and won the six-year- old championship with Strabane’s Peter Smith.
“This has been a tremendous journey for the mare and Niamh. We are so proud of her, what a Grand Prix,” said Bingham.
Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick was bred near Dunadry by local farmer Mrs Dorothea Wilson who has followed the mare from her youngster classes.
Niamh, who was trained by her mother Maeve, Gabriel Tunney from Tempo and international star Greg Broderick was praised by Gerry Mullins, former Irish team rider.
“She rode a very clever round, saving time and taking quick turns,” said Mullins.
Greg Broderick, who sprang to fame some years ago after selling his horse MHS Going Global for €12m to Athina Onassis, daughter of Aristotle Onassis, added: “Obviously Niamh is very talented, she had a serious plan to win this class, she had the strength and determination to see it through with a superb footperfect round saving time by turning between the judges hut from the green vertical to the double.”
Eight riders coped well with the opening round over Klaus Holle’s track.
Niamh’s winning time of 47.18 was enough to hold the lead despite a challenge from Kevin Gallagher with Ballypatrick Flamenco, the current national champions.
Gallagher and Broderick’s 10- year-old bay gelding were runners up in 47.32, with Wachman in third on his new horse Quintini by Cassandra, clear in 47.40.
Thursday’s big winner, Emma McEntee and TFM Blue,m were a fraction slower in 47.43 for fourth place ahead of Louise Saywell on Kingsborough Kasper, clear in 48.03.
Carlow showjumper Jason Foley, who finished eighth in the Grand Prix, was on top form earlier winning the The Accumulator speed class with Tara Coffey’s chestnut gelding Cnoc Rua Chinook.
Champion speed rider of the show was Kircudbright’s James Smith who finished third, and accumulated the most points over three days to take the Billy Roulston silver tankard presented by the Causeway Coast Showjumpers.
Klaus Holle, the German course builder concluded the show with super praise. “I think this is the best grass arena, We have nothing like this in Germany. I hope some day to see a Nations Cup in Balmoral or a European championship.”
Results: International Accumulator: 1 Jason Foley IRE Cnoc Rua Chinook score 65 53.54; 2 Kevin Gallagher IRE Arcadia LVS 65 55.34; 3 James Smith GB Good Friends 65 60.29; 4 Keith Shore GB Leila Van Het 65 61.95; 5 Edward Doyle IRE, Renkum A Toast 65 67.2; 6 Daniel McAlinden IRE AHG Whiterock Doctor Cruise 54.35
The Bottlegreen and Horsesport Ireland International Grand Prix: 1 Niamh McEvoy IRE, Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick 0-0 47.18; 2 Kevin Gallagher IRE Ballypatrick Flamenco 0-0 47.32; 3 Max Wachman IRE Quintini 0-0 47.40; 4 Emma McEntee IRE TFM Blue 0-0 47.43; 5 Louise Saywell GB Kingsborough Kasper 0-0 48.03; 6 James Smith GB Simply Splendid 0-4; 7 Charlotte Jacobs USA Rincoola Milsean 0-4 ; 8 Jason Foley IRE Clyde Va 0-10 71.65.