Paul O’Shea blitzed home on Imerald van’t Voorhof to claim the Sport Ireland Classic on the opening day of Dublin Horse Show yesterday.
The US-based Limerick rider ousted his Aga Khan team-mate Darragh Kenny who looked to have a commanding lead in the event on Romeo 88, but O’Shea’s scorching round saw him stop the clock three and a half seconds quicker.
Kenny, who won this event last year on Balou du Reventon, held onto second place while Susan Fitzpatrick claimed third on Fellow Castlefield, getting home ahead of Shane Sweetnam on Kirschwasser SCF.
The Irish clean sweep of the top six places saw Richard Howley take fifth with Chinook in front of Shane Breen and Golden Hawk.
O’Shea will partner Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu in tomorrow’s Nations Cup and will aim yesterday’s winning mount at Sunday’s Grand Prix.
There was an equally decisive win for Cian O’Connor in the Dublin Airport Central Minerva Stakes, the Meath rider zipping around on Diego to outgun British leader Holly Smith on Ruby VIII by more than three seconds.
Gerard O’Neill’s early effort on Jack van het Dennehof proved good enough for third place, 100th of a second behind Smith.
Irish riders took the top two places in the opening Speed Stakes, Cormac Hanley swooping with Copain Z to topple Anthony Condon who had led with Zira vh Kapelhof Z.
Hanley crossed the line clear in 59.94, over a third of a second faster than Condon. Mathieu Billot, the only French representative at this year’s show, made his presence felt with third place on Dassler.
The draw will be made today for the starting order in tomorrow’s Nations Cup for the Aga Khan Trophy, while the Thursday feature class is the Stablelab Stakes, won last year by Shane Sweetnam and Indra van de Oude Heihoef.