2023 Studbook Series off to a flying start in Galway

  • 2 May 2023, 19:52

The 2023 HSI Studbook Series is up and running after a fantastic opening leg in Galway Equestrian Centre which saw some familiar names and faces come to the fore.

Castleforbes Gillian (ISH), ridden by Gerard Clarke, was imperious when winning the seven-year-old class, jumping double clear and swooping late to pip Monbeg Ruby (ISH) and Tomas Doyle to top spot on the podium.

In what proved a superb class, Clarke and Castleforbes Gillian were the penultimate combination to jump and went clear in round two in a time of 33.98 seconds, replacing long time fastest duo Doyle and Monbeg Ruby by 0.31seconds.

Shane Moloney completed the podium, and was also in fourth spot in the class with Galilee Des Flagues (ISH) finishing third and HHS Disney (ISH) just behind in fourth.

Castleforbes Gillian is no stranger to success and her career arc is progressing nicely, having been named HSI Champion Show Jumping Filly Foal at the 2016 Foal Championships and hopes will be high for the seven-year-old as the season continues.

Gerard Clarke and Castleforbes Gillian jumping to victory in Galway

In the five-year-old class, Nicola Fitzgibbon was double clear on a pair for the future in Donatello (ISH) and One Day Maybe (ISH) and the former Irish Aga Khan representative told of her excitement with the young horses’ performances.

She said: “Donatello, I’ve had him since autumn of last year, he’s taken a bit of time to put things together but I think he’s extremely talented. He’s very careful and very scopey. He also seems to be very intelligent. This year he’s really turned a corner and is showing the talent I saw glimpses of. I’m very happy with how he’s progressing.

“The other five-year-old I had there, One Day Maybe, she’s a gorgeous mare by Bentley Van De Heffinck (BWP). She placed in the four-year-old final in Barnadown last year with me and I subsequently bought her off the owner. I think she’s phenomenally talented and I’m really excited about her future.”

Fitzgibbon was full of praise for the course builder and the class itself, noting its fairness and emphasizing the importance of developing these young horses.

She added: “In terms of the actual class itself it was a really nice one to start off for the five-year-olds especially. It was a really nice friendly course with nice distances. It was very inviting and all of the horses jumped well, and came out of the arena with a positive experience behind them, which I think is very important at this time of year. To build the courses accordingly and let the young horses start off in a positive space for the season ahead.”

She is very excited about the season to come – and the future – as she has an extremely talented crop of young horses at her disposal and is particularly fond of six-year-old Gracefield Apollo (ISH), who jmped double clear in the six-year-old class.

“I’ve a really lovely bunch of horses this year, I’m extremely lucky. I was just saying to somebody yesterday that I’m bringing six horses to the shows now and a bad round is one down or one mistake not a calamity.  It’s really nice to be in that space and I know that from week to week that can change so I’m just appreciating it while it’s there.

“Gracefield Apollo (ISH), he’s by Luidam (KWPN) and bred by Barry McCann up in the North. I think he’s an incredibly special horse. He’s only 15.2, he’s absolutely tiny. He thinks he’s 18.2, it’s ridiculous. He has the biggest personality of any horse I’ve come across and his intelligence reminds me of my old, good horse Puissance. He’s the one that I’m most excited about.

“He’s a messer, in the practice arena he can be throwing bucks and being all over the shop and even when he goes into the ring he’d be spooking and then the bell rings and you canter off and he’s foot perfect every time.

“All three of those horses have a very big future ahead of them, all three of them jumped double clear in The Meadows the weekend before in the Northern Ireland Horse Board classes. They’re quite consistent.”

Brendan Murphy completed an incredible double last year when winning both the five- and six-year old leagues and the five-year-old hero ABS Misty (ISH) returned with a double clear in the six-year-old class to get up and running nicely for the campaign.

Along with a host of others as we move on later this week to Barnadown for the second leg of the Series.

For 5-year-old standings click HERE

For 6-year-old standings click HERE

For 7-year-old standings click HERE

The HSI Studbook Series is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under National Breeding Services and is brought to you in association with Redmond Property Maintenance.