The rider from Thurles, Co Tipperary, has based himself in Switzerland for the past nine years, and opted for the Cork fixture to benefit a student, but gained most reward himself when riding Quite Zero to victory in the €50,000 contest.
“I haven’t been to Millstreet since I was 17. I was coming for [the shows in] Hickstead and Dublin, but I have a student with me, Bruno Martins Costa, so I came to Cork to give him experience,” said Ryan.
“This is my biggest grand prix win and it’s great, but the fact it happened with Quite Zero, my No 3 horse, is brilliant. He’s 10, but he has the competition age of an eight-year-old, as he was out injured with two hernias.
“He’s always been my favourite, since I started riding him from a young age. It’s taken a long time to bring him on, so it means a lot, plus it’s only his second grand prix. It’s been worth my while being patient with him.”
The 29-year-old was one of 12 riders from 45 starters called back for the second round. Last to go, he saw last year’s winner, Briton Ellen Whitaker, go into the lead with Le Beau, notching up a single time fault. Ryan then produced the only double clear of the competition, to lift the €16,500 top prize.
“Most of the time, I am confident he will jump a clear. He is a spooky horse and there was a lot going on in that arena, so it took him a couple of days to settle.
“I saw Ellen and saw that she added a stride to each fence compared to me. He covers ground, so I just had to repeat what I did in the first round and I knew I would be OK.”
Earlier, Billy Twomey was at his best with Codarco, a horse showing star potential when winning the prestigious Diageo Boomerang Final.
The young-horse class saw 10 six-year-olds first into the arena for the jump-off. Britain’s Laura Renwick sported two mounts, but it was the OBOS Quality-sired Washingtonn IX that gave her the lead when last to go, with a time of 40.73 seconds. When the first three of five riders aboard the seven-year-olds faulted over the raised course, it would have been reasonable to assume the prizemoney was going across the Irish Sea, though only the uninitiated would discount Twomey, particularly with a gelding showing maturity beyond his years. The pair were as one and lacked any sense of fuss with a smooth and steady display that produced a time of 40.59 seconds for a popular win.
Twomey said it was his first real time to test the Darco-sired horse and he showed all the traits required to make the big time.
“He has a really good mentality. He’s really with you around the course. He has a lot of experience; I’ve had him in a lot of the seven-year-old classes abroad, for example in Glock in Austria he was clear every day. So he’s got plenty of miles up,” said the Nottinghamshire-based Corkman.
“That’s actually the first time I half set him alight and he was even more sharp when I went quick, which is a good sign,” said Twomey, who bought Codarco last year from Tomas O’Brien and noted that the horse had won the Millstreet championship for four-year-olds.
On Saturday, Vincent Byrne and his connections were delighted with his fast clear early in the Speed Derby on Mr Rockefeller, but were convinced with many big names to follow, it could be bettered.
They were wrong and the Horseware/TRM Grand Prix League leader won the one-round class with ease.
“I’m very happy. Absolutely. There were a big number to follow, I think I had to watch 30 after me. It was a long wait, but thankfully, it worked out,” said 22-year-old Byrne.
“He has a big stride and it suited him, as there were 17 fences in the course, which obviously is a lot more than you would see in a jump-off,” said the Kilkenny native.
Byrne’s five wins with the 10-year-old bay gelding in the Horseware/TRM National Grand Prix League sees him with a three-point lead on Alexander Butler with two legs remaining. Saturday’s win boosted his belief he could hold off any challenge. “The horse is in good form and that win will definitely help his confidence. There are two legs left, Coilog in a fortnight, but with points-and-a-half available in the final at Barnadown, a good result there is essential.”
Earlier, Hallmark Elite showed a quick turn of pace to carry Dermott Lennon to victory in the Millstreet Masters.
The former World Champion and the bay gelding had almost three-quarters of a second to spare on Daniel Coyle aboard the 10-year-old stallion Zuidam, a horse the Derry rider rates highly.
Meanwhile, an inaugural foal auction saw one consignment knocked down for €15,000. Tipperary’s Greg Broderick and his business partner and fellow show jumper Ger O’Neill were the purchasers of lot four, a half-brother to the former’s grand prix horse MHS Going Global. By OBOS Quality, it is out of the Cavalier mare Gowran Lady and was sold by Mill House Stud, Kilkenny.
The Irish junior eventing team’s show jumping prowess saw them come from behind yesterday to claim gold at the European Championships for the second year in a row.
Cathal Daniels was the hero, his clear round as anchorman clinching the team medal, while also earning him the individual silver in the competition held at Bishop Burton, England. The 17-year-old Galway rider’s display on Rioghan Rua was matched by his team-mates Susie Berry (Carsonstown Athena), Nessa Briody (Tomboy) and Lucy Latta (Cleo Ferro) for a team total of 149.1 penalties. This was good enough to overtake Germany, who had held pole position after cross-country and dressage, but added 12 faults in yesterday’s show jumping to finish on 151.2pens. France held off Britain to claim bronze.