Riding Stellor Rebound against a stellar line-up, the Meath-based rider lay fifth after dressage on 41.1 penalties, before adding just 6.8 time penalties in the cross-country phase to leave the likes of World No1 William Fox-Pitt in her wake.
“That’s the hottest class I’ve ever been in and to win is amazing. I’m in shock,” said Ennis. “I’m sitting in the lorry here and none of us can believe that I actually won. In fact, though, it’s a double celebration, as my husband Niki also won the prize for best groom.”
Ennis had high praise for her 10-year-old bay gelding, bought by her now-deceased mother Orla as a four-year-old. By VDL Ricochet, out of Techian, a thoroughbred mare by Parliament, he was bred by Rhona Barnwall in Swords, Co Dublin.
“It was a tough cross-country, the hills are unbelievable, but he has endless energy, which he gets from his dam. You need the right horse and he’s an amazing athlete. He can put his legs anywhere, he could do yoga. He’s a puller and he gets himself into sticky situations, but always manages to get out of them.
“He’s pretty consistent, and this year his dressage moved up due to trainer Ian Woodhead, which puts you in a position to challenge for honours. Ian Fearon has also done a super job in show jumping. I had his voice guiding me as I went around the track.”
Expectations of a good display at Badminton recently came to nought, but Ennis said yesterday’s result provided consolation. “Today definitely helps with the disappointment of being eliminated at Badminton. Now my focus is on Tattersall’s next month.”
Also in winning mode at the weekend was show jumper Alexander Butler, who rode Will Wimble to victory in the grand prix at Balmoral, while Michael G Duffy topped the leaderboard in a speed class at the nations cup show in Odense, Denmark.
At the three-star Royal Windsor Show, Tipperary’s Shane Breen and Farao van T Vennehof won a 1.55mtr jump-off, while in carriage driving, Barry Capstick won the international horse pairs class at the English fixture.
Vincent Byrne and Alexander Butler were tied at the top of the Horseware/TRM Grand Prix League going into yesterday’s fifth leg at Cavan, but victory for the former with Mr Rockefeller has given him the edge. Butler, however, finished runner-up with Riverside Ace in the 18-horse jump-off to keep the pressure on.
Yesterday’s Connolly’s/Red Mills Munster Grand Prix at Aglish, Co Waterford, saw Gerard Clarke (King’s Best), come home over three seconds ahead of Gemma Phelan (RVS Harley Ger), with Peter Moloney placing third (Ribanbelle Tame) in the four-horse jump-off that included Brian Morrison (Wilton John VDL).