Kilkenny’s Vincent Byrne secured his place on top of the Horseware/TRM leaderboard last Saturday as he rode to victory at Connell Hill. Riding Mr Rockefeller, Byrne took home the winner’s share of the €5,000 in the Connell Hill Stud & Equestrian Centre sponsored class. Byrne, who was neck and neck with fellow Kilkenny rider Ger O’ Neill after Bannow & Rathangan is now seven points ahead on the overall standings after his win.
On duty, course designer Raymond Jess designed a fair track for the 29 starters. With riders clearly up for the challenge 12 proceeded to the jumpoff and from those, eight delivered double clears. It was one of the most competitive jumpoff’s, with the top six riders coming home clear within the 37 second barrier.
Fourth to go in the jumpoff, Emily Turkington wasted no time with Willem and she answered all the questions when she delivered a clear in 35.64. This good performance saw her take the lead and later the runnerup spot. Turkington’s lead look under threat when five horses later Peter Smyth riding Tunmore put in a blistering round, but despite a good effort a clear in 36.14 saw him finish behind Turkington.
Double handed in the jumpoff Antrim rider Luke Campbell delivered his best result with Trebra Douglas when he crossed the line fractions behind in 36.40, which would later see him finish in fourth place.
Liam O’ Meara put in a gallant round with Mr Coolcaum, but their time of 36.97 saw them slot into sixth place.
The penultimate rider in, the pressure was on as Ger O’ Neill was looking to add valuable points to his tally. Setting off strong with Isacorada, he didn’t hang about and negotiated a series of tight lines. Despite the good attempt however, a clear in 36.77 proved only good enough for fifth place on this occasion.
Last to go, all eyes were on Vincent Byrne as he took it on with Mr Rockefeller. Setting off in a calculated pace, Byrne made up time from the water tray back to the double. A daring turn back to the last which allowed him to take out a stride saw him stop the clock in 35.09 seconds to take the win.
Delighted with the win, Byrne said; “ Delighted to win here at Connell Hill, it was a long trip but it was worthwhile. I had watched five or six go and I decided that I had to have a go at it. A steady clear was not going to feature in terms of points, so I just had to go for it. There is still a few rounds left and anything can happen”.
This is the fourth win of the series for Byrne having won at Thomastown, Charleville and County Clare. The pressure will now be on Byrne to maintain this lead as little separates the top five riders on the leaderboard as the series comes to a conclusion. Riders will now have a break for the Dublin Horse show, but the battle to take the title will resume at South County show on the 30th of July
Horseware/TRM Grand Prix at Connell Hill result.
1st Vincent Byrne /Mr Rockefeller 0/0 35.09
2nd Emily Turkington/ Willem 0/0 35.64
3rd Peter Smyth/ Tunmore 0/0 36.14
4th Luke Campbell/ Trebra Douglas 0/0 36.40
5th Ger O’ Neill / Isacorada 0/0 36.77
6th Liam O’ Meara Mr Coolcaum 0/0 36.97