Donegal rider surprised by Connolly’s Red Mills Hunter Trials title win

Rachel Carton was more surprised than anyone else by her win in the Intermediate championship at
the Connolly’s Red Mills National Hunter Trials Championships at Flowerhill Equestrian Centre, Co.
Galway last Sunday.

Carton did not have an easy pathway to Sunday’s victory as the Rathmullen resident broke her arm last November and missed the hunting season. Rachel asked her daughter Emma to keep Aughavannon Merlin ticking over at her base in Kilkenny and said he came home in marvellous condition after he was feed on Connolly’s Red Mills Horse Care Cubes while at Jim O’Neill’s Castlefield Sportshorses so she kept him on the feed ever since.

The Association of Irish Riding Clubs championships were run differently to other hunter trials, as it was based on optimum time rather than against the clock and competitors were given a 20 second window to complete the course however if they finished outside of this, they incurred time penalties.

Competitors had to contend with a 20-fence track across the country at Oliver Walsh’s Flowerhill where 65 riders took to the start line for the intermediate championship where just three riders came home with a clean sheet 

It was a close contest as three seconds separated the top three riders but it was the Letterkenny rider who finished on top after her eight-year-old brown ISH gelding, Aughavannon Merlin, crossed the line exactly on the target of 6’30 seconds to claim the spoils.

Tir Conaill’s Courtney Green had to settle for the blue ribbon on Gortahork Brid who was just a second off the target while Shaun Brennan took third place on Santa Cruz Lady for Donegal Gaeltacht.

Carton who only made it to the championships by the skin of her teeth said afterwards,

I had been waiting for a knee operation which was postponed to Monday 11th of April, so to win was a dream
come true

“My psychotic and neurotic steed can enjoy a good long break on the hill now as I try and get through physio as fast as possible so I can get back in the saddle. I have to say a very special thanks to everyone who wished me well and also to my husband Raymond, who has been hugely supportive and will be looking after Merlin and I for the next while,” she added.

Carton also featured in the ribbons in the intermediate pairs where she teamed up with her sister Libby (Fenway) to claim fifth place. Slieve Bloom’s Amanda Hehir (Aztlan K) and Arderin’s Andreena Purcell (Greenhall Manuka) won the class after the pair crossed the line just one second short of the preferred time of 6‘54 seconds with nothing to add. Slieve Blooms’s Jan Boons (Arraghbeg Luidam) and Sinead Boyd (Hollpark Lady) took second place after they were the only other pair to come home with no penalties to add.

Another Slieve Bloom rider won the Open and Advanced Open Championship where Mary Hogan had a clear jumping round on Watervalley Hogan. The Slieve Bloom member, however, picked up 50 time penalties but her clear jumping round kept her ahead of last years runner up, Laura Schneider (Chloe Lass) for Donegal Gaeltacht who had to settle for the blue ribbon again.

Schneider had better luck in the mixed pairs competition where she partnered up with her sister, Emily on My Boy Boysie, to claim the honours. The Donegal Gaeltacht duo were one of three clear jumping rounds of the 31 starters but their time of 6’15 left them with 5-time penalties. This was enough, however, for them to claim the spoils ahead of Stracomers Karl Dolan (Diamond Lillie) and Tara Fergus Sheridan (Tirconaill River Rose).

Jason Deward picked up the winners rosette in the advanced intermediate championship after the Tir Conaill rider crossed the line on his 10-year- old chestnut ISH mare, Leahs Lady Rose, just 8 seconds adrift of the target, 6 minutes, with nothing to add.

Rudy Schneider took home the runners-up prize after the Donegal Gaeltacht rider finished next best on My Boy Boysie with just 3-time penalties on the scoreboard.


Mosstown’s Sue Moles with Tom Curran of Connolly’s RED MILLS

Mosstown’s Sue Moles overcame stiff opposition in the advanced primary championship to claim the title out of almost 50 riders. Moles, on her 10-year- old black gelding, Captain James T Hook, finished best of the two riders who completed the course with nothing to add 


Her time of 7’05, just 5 seconds adrift of the optimum time, ensured victory for the Ballymahon resident. Anvil’s Andrea Culbert was a further five seconds adrift on Moyodo Dancer to claim the blue ribbon.

Moles said after her win that, “it is was one of the longest courses I’ve seen, and it was definitely a riders course with many turns. It was more technical than I had expected having never been to Flowerhill before but what a delight it was to ride.”

“It’s the first red rosette we’ve ever won, and I couldn’t have been more surprised when the results went up.” She added.

Thomastown and District Riding Club continued its winning streak in the advanced primary pairs division which the Kilkenny based club won for the fourth year in a row. Aine Nolan (Persian Knight), who last won the title in 2016, and Jade Douglas (Carrigbeg Coco)
continued the clubs winning record in the competition when they finished best of the 6 pairs home with no jumping penalties.

The Kilkenny duo, however, picked up 31-time penalties, but it was still good enough for the victory
ahead of Dalysgrove’s John Miland (Huntingfield Holly) and South Roscommon’s Wendy Condon in
second place.

Thomastown and District Club chairperson Margaret Walsh said, “We are absolutely delighted to win this competition for the fourth year in a row. This is a great achievement for both Aine and Jade who worked hard and never missed a training session with our trainer Louise Lyons.”

Elsewhere, Donal Kenneally filled the top two places in the young horse competition with his five-year-old chestnut ISH mare, Killea Storm, in first place after the Devils Bit rider completed the course with nothing to add.

Keneally’s Killea Alannah took the runners-up slot after the four-year-old chestnut ISH mare picked up 13-time penalties across the country.

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