Keating claims the leading O/AO rider spoils at Masters Series Final

Meabh Keating won the open and advanced open leading rider title at the Association of Irish Riding Clubs Masters Series final last Sunday.

The Arderin rider, who won the grand prix, also added a third place in the two-phase to give her the highest points tally of 25 to claim the title.

Just two riders, Meabh Keating and Sean Kennedy, made it through to the jump-off from the starting field of 12 riders in the open and advanced open grand prix. Keating went in first but her 11-year-old bay ISH gelding, Shylock Flight, rolled the final fence to finish on 4 penalties but set a fast time of 44.72.

Kennedy opted for a slow steady clear round but this backfired on the Mosstown rider as although Zandor left all of the fences intact, his time of 56.88 was over the time allowed and left the Leitrim based rider on 9 penalties in second place.

Just three riders completed the two-phase with nothing to add where Keatings time of 49.58 left the Birr resident in third place as Clonshires Marie Crosse claimed the spoils on St Helene. Valerie Joy also bettered Keatings time to claim the blue ribbon on Cranny Chipison for Old Mill.

These two results for Keating gave her a total of 25 points to claim the leading rider title ahead of Marie Crosse in second, who was 4 points adrift.

Keating was thrilled with the win saying afterwards, “my horse (Malcolm) who I kindly have the ride of from Birr Equestrian Centre was in serious form and played a blinder. We both loved the brilliant technical course building on the day and I’m looking forward to brushing up on my skills with the fabulous training bursary awarded on the day.”

Advanced Intermediate leading riders (l to r) Jacqui Boland, Emma Carton & Danielle Murphy with Tony Ennis
Advanced Intermediate leading riders (l to r) Jacqui Boland, Emma Carton & Danielle Murphy with Tony Ennis, AIRC chairman

Donegal based riders dominated the other two divisions on the day with Emma Carton landing the advanced intermediate title after a close contest. The Letterkenny rider won the title after she accumulated 41 points giving her a one-point lead over Ballinasloe’s Danielle Murphy.

Carton opened her account with a win in the two-phase competition where Somhairle Red Tiger’s time of 39.41 gave her a commanding lead over Raynal Cunningham (Killahara Boy) who stopped the clock on 43.01 in second place.

The Letterkenny rider didn’t make it through to the jump-off in the grand prix and finished just outside the top six as the fastest four faulter. Jacqui Boland claimed the spoils on this occasion on Maverick Na Ri ahead of Danielle Murphy (Banagher Coronado).

Carton was not expecting the day to go so well saying, “it makes the win all the better. I had a great two phase and just got unlucky in the grand prix but was delighted to win the leading rider title. It’s great to get the training bursary and I can’t wait to use it over the summer. I’m getting a young horse and can use the training to educate myself and him at the same time.”

My aunt Kate who owns and bred Somhairle Red Tiger was over the moon at being able to see her compete at such a great venue. The whole show was very well run and ran smoothly.

Cassandra McGee won the intermediate leading rider title after two consistent performances on the day. The Donegal Gaeltacht rider was runner-up in the grand prix and claimed fifth in the two-phase to win the title on 46 points ahead of Letterkenny’s Dawn Hyndman (Colourado Kid) on 44.

Intermediate Leading Riders (l to r) Joe Conway, Dawn Hyndman & Cassandra McGee with Tony Ennis, AIRC chairman.
Intermediate Leading Riders (l to r) Joe Conway, Dawn Hyndman & Cassandra McGee with Tony Ennis, AIRC chairman

McGee narrowly missed out on a win in the grand prix where her club mate Roseleen McGinley claimed the spoils on Lacoda. McGinley’s time of 44.42 was just slightly ahead of McGee on Jenny’s Jigsaw on 44.53 as the top five riders jumped double clear rounds.

Earlier in the two-phase, McGee was among 7 riders who had nothing to add but her time of 45.12 left her in fifth place behind Laura Bohan who crossed the line on 42.58 for the Mullingar club.

McGee said afterwards, “I was delighted to have won the intermediate leading rider as it was an unexpected surprise. Having just joined the club this year, it was a great experience at my first national competition.”

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