AFTER four competitive rounds, the Coolmore/Showjumping Ireland Premier Series came to an exciting conclusion last Saturday at Mullingar Equstrian Centre. Claiming the final round was Co Down’s Dermott Lennon with L’Esprit Hero Z, while Kildare’s Mikey Pender claimed the series and with it the National Championship title with HHS Los Angeles.

Speaking after the class, Pender said: “I am thrilled to have been crowned National Champion today. The mare jumped really well and a big thanks to the team at home. I had planned to go faster, but it didn’t work out that way but in the end I was lucky to finish fifth. It is unbelievable to have an eight-year-old horse crowned national champion. Everyday that she comes out she is fantastic and she is a pleasure to ride.”

The title was all still to play for going in to the final, with Niamh McEvoy and Templepatrick Limmerick on top of the leaderboard after their win in Tattersalls on 23 points. Pender had gone into the final round with HHS Los Angeles in joint second place on 18 points with Tim MacDonagh and Hollypark Galloway.

However, with McEvoy and Templepatrick Limmerick failing to make the jump-off after they clocked up four faults and MacDonagh and Hollypark Galloway retiring, Pender’s hope of the titles became wide open as he booked his place against the clock with HHS Los Angeles. However, to take the title, Pender had to ensure that he finished within the top five to catch McEvoy.

Runner-up in the league and the leading young rider Niamh McEvoy said: “The mare has jumped so well throughout the series and I am very lucky to have her. I am totally delighted to get my place in the international classes in Dublin. My real aim was to secure this. I think the mare will be very competitive there and I am really looking forward to it.”

The second rider to claim their place in the internationals at Dublin was Tim MacDonagh who finished third in the league, as Pender had already got his invitation due to his international performances this year.

There was a good turn-out for the final round, with 38 of the top combinations battling it out for the €15,000 on offer. From the original starters, 17 clear rounds were delivered in the first round and from those, nine answered all the questions the second time out.

In the jump-off, the track began with a tall vertical followed by an oxer, then a tight turn back to a vertical on to an oxer. Time then was to be made up on a sharp right hand turn to the double (oxer to a vertical), followed by an oxer to the last white vertical.

Lennon clinches final win

Lennon and L’Esprit Hero Z claimed victory when they galloped home in a time of 35.74 seconds. Lennon maintained a strong pace throughout the course, and got a very good shot to the double and then took the inside line back to the penultimate oxer. Bred by Gerry Marron and Luc Henry, the 11-year-old gelding is by Lexicon out of the For Pleasure-sired Ikea Van’t Roosakker. The combination recently competed at Bolesworth CSI3* and Hickstead CSI4*.

Delighted with the win, Lennon said: “I had watched a few of the younger riders go and I saw that they all had knocked a few poles. I knew it was going to be very quick. The horse has not got a lot of experience but jumped really well today. He has been a bit unlucky in the last few rounds with a pole down, but it went our way today.”

Clem McMahon answered all the questions with TJM Amour Fou. McMahon meant business from the start and got a very tight turn back to fence three. Although they rattled the second part of the double, he moved up the pace to the penultimate oxer and then to the last, crossing the line in 36.67, which saw him take the runner-up spot.

Owned by Hilton Farm and John Connolly, the nine-year-old gelding is by Diamant De Semilly out of Cicero Z Van-sired Catani Z. This combination recently took third place in the two-star Grand Prix at Mullingar.

Cian O’Connor and Taj Mahal also put in a flawless performance and took a series of tight lines, delivering that all important clear round in a time of 37.39 for third place. This combination had recently competing overseas, taking victory in a 1.50m at Wiesbaden along with a second and sixth place finish in 1.50m. Moving on to Knokke CSI3*, they took another victory in the 1.50m Grand Prix.

Great performance

Niamh McEvoy may not have claimed the title on this occasion, but she did put in a great performance with her second mount, Aconzina PS, coming home in 37.58 for eventual fourth. Along with this placing, she finished up as the top leading young rider of the series.

Owned by Max O’Reilly Hyland and bred by Gestut Lewitz, the eight-year-old mare is by Action Breaker out of Conzina. Although only together for a short time, the combination recently claimed fourth place at the 1.40m Hive Equine Safety Initiative Grand Prix at HHS Stud.

Mikey Pender slotted into fifth place with HHS Los Angeles as he crossed the line with nothing to add in 39.79. This result was enough for him to claim the overall title and the National Championship crown. Bred by Marion Hughes, this eight-year-old mare is by Le Roi out of Cavalier Royale-sired China Cavalier. Pender had competed the mare earlier in the season in Vilamoura CSI3* and later in Vejer de la Frontera CSI4*.

Completing the top six line-up was Lt. James Whyte and Hawthorn Hill, clear in 40.63. The pair also finished on the top end of the leaderboard, having been placed in three of the rounds. Whyte is now in his fourth year with the Army Equitation School and will no doubt have his sights on more wins for the remainder of the season. Bred by Jerry Quinn, this 10-year-old mare is by Cardento out of the Limmerick-sired Tummery Limelight.

The Army Equitation School bought the mare when she was six, having been produced by Ciaran Nallon. This combination took fourth place in the National Grand Prix at the Flavours of Fingal show and were fourth at the penultimate round of this leabue in Tattersalls.