Taggart and Hogg put on winning show at Balmoral
County Fermanagh rider Kerry Taggart opened the 2018 Balmoral Show with a win in glorious sunshine taking the Bluefrog Five-year-old championship final with Ivira, owned by Tullyelmer Farm Ltd.
Showjumpers from Ireland, USA, Canada and GB converged on the first class international grass arena, showing their talent for guest of honour the Princess Royal who opened the 150th anniversary event.
Maguiresbridge showjumper James Hogg produced the winner of the Dengie six- and seven-year-old championship for his father Edgar, who bred the horse which excelled in the main arena to beat Derry horseman John McLaughlin on board Lincourt Luidam.
Hogg, who is a consistent winner in youngster classes on home-breds, claimed the class with a superb time of 44.90 ahead of McLaughlin on 50.03, with third place going to Oliva Roulston on Lisa Rosbotham's Miss Valent.
Edgar Hogg explained: "The horse was in great form, he has been very consistent and it is always great to have success at Balmoral in such a superb arena."
Leitrim's John Floody partnered Shalamar Cassino owned by Jim and Tony Magennis to victory in the Orthoderm 1.35m National Grand Prix with the fastest jump off time of 39.37.
Roy Craig's Beltrim Brother Ava gave chase for runner-up slot ridden by Strabane's up-and-coming star Jonathan Smyth, going clear in 43.13.
Smyth, who has been a consistent winner on the Irish circuit this year, is competing in the international arena with his uncle, Peter Smyth from Victoria Bridge.
Veteran showjumper Geoff Billington, a previous multiple winner at Balmoral over the decades, is competing this week with his wife Sarah.
Leitrim chef Donal Cadden travelled from Carigallen to cheer on his mare Cornetta 10 who finished third for Mohill rider John Mulligan. Cadden, on his first visit to Balmoral Park, praised the main arena showjumping classes.
"We were delighted to be here and finish third; this is a first-class showjumping venue, fast and efficient just like I run my kitchen," he quipped.
Markethill rider Conor McEneaney on board Moonlite Cavalier for Ireland was fourth ahead of Donegal's Kelda Morgan on Orbiting and Jonathan Smyth with Anthony Doherty's Crystal Tom.
Paul Barker, GB's long time supporter of Balmoral, took the Clive Richardson International Speed Class from 36 starters winning in the fastest time of 70.68 on Happy Boy, a Belgian-bred gelding owned by Springs Equestrian.
Ireland's Gerard O'Neill was runner-up with Castlefield Cass, a black gelding who showed a clean pair of heels in 73.55 ahead of colleague Gerard Clarke, with the Cruising sired Kellswater Crimson.
President of Showjumping at Balmoral Mrs Myrtle Peak was delighted with the warm weather and perfect footing for the horses.
"We plan each show a year in advance, and this year's has opened again with glorious sunshine which is perfect for the horses and riders," she said.
"We are pleased to have Stuart Clarke from Cavan Equestrian Centre as foreign judge, and our ground jury is Suzanne Macken, Eilish Mulholland and President of the jury Mrs Hilary McClelland."
Mrs Peak met Princess Anne and welcomed the international course builder Jason Abbs (GB), assisted by Toby Ingham (GB) and Dromore's Nigel Jess.
Competition continues today at Balmoral with the Connollys Red Mills International Spectacular, the Rydale International Speed and Power and the Young Event Horse championship.
Popular showjumper Greg Broderick, who sold his Rio Olympic horse MHS Going Global for €12million to Athina Onassis, has a full team of horses at the show.
Also competing is Clones Nations Cup-winning rider on the Aga Khan team Clement McMahon, competing with Pacifico by Pacino.
Pacino sadly died a number of years ago from a kidney problem, and Pacifico is his progeny which could be a favourite for tomorrow's Grand Prix.
The Bluefrog Five-Year -Old Final
1. Kerry Taggart, Ivira 0-0 41.17; 2. Deane Rogan, De L'Oilseliere 0-0 43.04; 3. Jonathan Creswell, EMS Perno 0-0 43.66
Dengie 6/7-Year-Old Championship
1. James Hogg, Intuitive 0-0 44.90; 2. John McLaughlin, Lincourt Luidam 0-0 50.03; 3. Lisa Rosbotham, Miss Valent 0-4 40.16
Clive Richardson Ltd International Speed Class
1. Paul Barker, Happy Boy, GB 0-70.68; 2. Gerard O'Neil, Castlefield Cass IRE 0-73.55; 3. Gerard Clarke, Kellswater Crimson, 0-74.36
The Orthoderm Clinic 1.35m National Grand Prix
1. John Floody, Shalamar Cassino 0-0 39.37; 2. Jonathan Smyth, Beltrim Brother Ava 0-0 43.13; 3. John Mulligan, Cornetta 10 0-4 42.10.