A 2AM alarm call may not have been an ideal start to the day, but it proved worthwhile for Cathal Daniels and his partner Jennifer Kuehnle, who both enjoyed a busy but highly successful campaign at Ballindenisk last Sunday.
First up, the pair filled four of the top five placings in the feature EI 120, with Daniels landing the honours with the up- and-coming CDS Cairnview Romolu.
Running as one of only four advanced classes in the country, and in an unfortunate calendar clash, another similar class was staged at Necarne the previous day, the sector opened with a field of seven.
Heading into the cross-country, it was the blossoming partnership of Kuehnle and Sammy Davis Jnr who had impressed dressage judge John Lyttle to gain a score of 25.8.
The tight time in the country however, soon turned the leaderboard on its head and while some, including Kuehnle, opted not to chase the clock, the ever-competitive Daniels completed with the addition of just 0.4.
Progressing to show jump clear, he moved from the seventh to first, to head Ian Cassells aboard the Millstreet-bound Kelly’s Quality, as well as his own second ride Shannondale Mari.
This was a particularly rewarding win for the Curragh-based rider, who has owned the Irish-bred CDS Cairnview Romulo for the past 18 months. Sourced in England, where he had been lightly campaigned by Ben Hobday and Morgan Kent, the 11-year-old is by Omar and, bred by Geraldine Quinn, is out of Cairnview Grace by Ballinvella.
“I didn’t go out to win, but he has a phenomenal gallop,” said Daniels. “He was on the back burner a bit last year because of the pandemic and Tokyo, but I do think he will be a top-level horse and will excel over a 12-minute track.”
Another to enjoy the best of preparation for Millstreet was Patricia Ryan, who took the following EI 115 (O) with the ever-consistent The Caped Crusader. The pair led from the front, and landing their third win of the current campaign, now head for the long format three-star at Millstreet.
Boding well for their Bandon yard, her husband Michael Ryan was also clear to fill second with Claragh Mountain, reversing placings with Antonia Ward who tipped a coloured rail with Christopher Robin.
Although the cross-country and the show jumping proved straightforward, the time was again the deciding factor - as it was in the following EI 115 restricted. With 21 runners, this class was a close fought affair and while placings juggled after the cross-country, they did not affect Ian Cassells who led the field from the get go. Victors at Hillcrest the previous week, Cassells and the speedy mare Shanbo Superflex added just two penalties for time to hold their position ahead of Christopher Whyte and Lady Craft.
The latter were the only pair to return within the time, while also clear, but slower in the country Altitu made a good debut at the level under Patrick Whelan.