Reigning champion Greg Broderick got his defence of the TRM/Horse Sport Ireland new Heights Champions series off to the perfect start when winning Sunday's opening leg at The Meadows Equestrian Centre outside Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Ten combinations from a line-up of 48 progressed to the second round but just Rio Olympian Broderick and Ciaran Nallon managed to jump double clear. Riding the Mary Ellen De Ruschi-owned 10-year-old gelding Duco, Broderick crossed the line in 47.69 seconds with Nallon on Arkino Z leaving all the fences intact in 48.33.
Former World Champion Dermott Lennon took third place with the fastest four-fault round (43.75) aboard Gelvins Touch while Kenneth Graham finished fourth with George (43.75) on which he had won Saturday's national Grand Prix. Army rider Captain Geoff Curran, who had been eventing the previous day, placed fifth with Shannondale Rahona (44.04) as the 2017 European Pony team gold medallist Kate Derwin completed the top six on AHG Whiterock Cruise Down (46.49).
This year’s Irish Sport Horse Studbook show jumping series also got under way at The Meadows where the Thomas O’Brien-ridden Paciro won the seven-year-old section with the fastest of seven double clears. The Pacino gelding, who is owned by Lorna Daly, was bred in Co Leitrim by Patrick Flanagan out of the Ramiro B mare Ramiro View.
Following the cancellation of the Ballindenisk international horse trials in Co Cork, Britain’s Holly Woodhead travelled north to Tyrella, Co Down where on Saturday she won the open intermediate class with Parkfield Quintessential. On board E Warrantsson in the intermediate section, Woodhead had to settle for fourth place behind three young Irish riders headed by Stephanie Stammschroer on Master Swatch.