Little did Denise O’Brien know what lay ahead when she set off for the Connolly’s RED MILLS AIRC National Show Jumping Championships in Mullingar Equestrian, Co. Westmeath on Sunday as her jeep caught fire on the M4 motorway near the toll bridge.
The Blessington resident was lucky as they had a fire extinguisher and managed to put out the fire and she said, “I was just about to call and withdraw when Liz Power, a member of another club, pulled up and offered me a lift to Mullingar.”
O’Brien went on to win the Open and Advanced Open Derby when she registered the only clear round on Tommy B Good over Michael Keaveney’s 16 fence track with 18 jumping efforts.
Her 20-year-old ISH bay gelding also recorded the quickest round of the competition when they crossed the line on 115.83.
Ross House’s Lisa Noble (Texas-Lukos) was next best on 8 penalties with Stracomer’s Tara Fergus Sheridan in third place after Tirconaill River Rose returned with a total of 16 penalties.
O’Brien said afterwards,
I arrived with no time for a course walk for my championship class where I was told the course but Tommy jumped brilliantly and we claimed second place in that competition but we ended the day by winning the derby.
“Everyone was so helpful and patient and I want to thank Liz Power for everything she did for me,” she added.
Elsewhere, Liam Keogh continued his dominance in the derby arena after he won the Advanced Intermediate section on Queen Ruby.
The 19-year-old ISH chestnut mare completed the course with the only clean sheet in the competition in a time of 100.05, well inside the time allowed to leave the Mo Chara rider the deserving winner for a third time after previous wins in the Open and Advanced Open Derby in 2017 and 2019 when the championships last took place.
12 riders were tied on four penalties where Tom Whyte was fastest on Ardagh Dun N Dusted who finished under 100 seconds in a time of 99.61 for Mosstown. Rathangan’s Abbie Walker completed the podium on If Ever a Rogue on 102.75 seconds in third.
The Burke sisters from Benbulben Riding Club claimed the top two places in the Intermediate Derby which saw a field of over 30 starters. Rachel Burke secured her second derby title on Rookery Blue who was quickest of the nine clear rounds.
Her time of 98.91 on her 20-year-old ISH piebald gelding put her streets ahead of the rest as the Sligo based rider had over seven seconds to spare over her sister, Avril Burke who took the runner-up spot on Rookery Luna in a time of 106.32.
Derry Walker was next best on Attila in a time of 106.81 for the Kildare based Rathangan club.
The Benbulben club continued its winning run in the Advanced Primary Accumulator where Amy Anderson came out on top out of the 17 starters. Anderson was among seven riders who completed the track with maximum points but was just 1.30 seconds off the optimum time to claim the honours on her 6-year-old ISH bay mare, Casadh Na Taoide.
Her clubmate Finola Murphy (Pot O Honey) was just over 2 seconds off the target to claim the blue ribbon with Meath’s Shirley Fox in third place on Larkins Dun Santa.
Only two riders achieved maximum points in the primary division where Teresa Ward claimed the spoils on Carnelee Boy. The Cheval rider was just 0.29 seconds off the target with Clonshire’s Michelle Kelly in second place on Donatello Dreamer. Amanda Ryan was third after Blue Mist recorded 61 points.