High Hopes for Another Strong Series Performance from O’Neill

  • 14 August 2020, 15:30
Ger O'Neil and MHS High Hopes are presented with their sash and rug after winning the second leg of the HSI Premier Series

Ger O’Neill and MHS High Hopes pictured after winning the second leg of the HSI Premier Series at Mullingar (Photo by: Laurence Dunne/jumpinaction.net)

This Sunday, August 16th we head into the third round of the 2020 Horse Sport Ireland Premier Series which takes place at Balmoral. This will be the last round before the series final which takes place in Portmore Co Antrim on September 6th and where one athlete will be crowned National Champion for 2020.

The series has so far been dominated by the Castlefield Sport Horses team, 19-year-old Jason Foley got off to an incredible start claiming first and second place with Castlefield Vegas (ISH) and Castlefield Cass (ISH) respectively at Barnadown. Foley has been based with Ger O’Neill at Castlefield Sport Horses since the age of 16 where he has won World Championship Gold, European Championship individual Gold and European Championship team Bronze medals for Ireland.

Speaking about Jason’s performance in the first round of the series, O’Neill said: “Jason really holds his nerve on the big days, he’s not fazed by big jumps or big names and we’re very proud of Jason and all that he has achieved. His parents have been a huge support to him all through ponies and on to horses. He is currently at a show in Holland where he just recently won a Young Rider class with Castlefield Cass.”


MHS High Hopes and Ger O'Neill soar over a wide oxer

MHS High Hopes, ridden by Ger O’Neill, is a full brother to MHS Going Global who represented Ireland at the RIO Olympics with Greg Broderick (Photo by: Laurence Dunne/jumpinaction.net)

O’Neil and MHS High Hopes (ISH) finished third behind Foley at Barnadown and went on to win the second leg of the series at Mullingar putting them seven points clear of their nearest rival on the leaderboard.

Legendary Irish Course Designer, Alan Wade had built a big, challenging track but under O’Neill’s expert guidance MHS High Hopes made it look easy, commenting on the horse’s performance O’Neill said: “MHS High Hopes is a full brother to MHS Going Global (ISH), he’s a bigger horse so he has taken a year longer than MHS Going Global did to develop but he’s going down the same path as him so far. I don’t have him too long, Jack Brennan did a fantastic job producing him up to this level and I’m just lucky that a horse like him has come into the yard and that I can ride at a higher level. I’m delighted with how he has performed so far in the series, for a big horse he has proven himself to be very quick. He has a massive stride and I can really use that to my advantage.”


Though O’Neill hasn’t had the horse long, his aim from the outset was to win the series: “Horse Sport Ireland have been brilliant supporting the shows with prizemoney and the venues for the series are excellent which means we as riders can really aim our best horses at the series. My plan from the start of the year was to aim MHS High Hopes at becoming National Champion and the first two shows couldn’t have gone any better. He’s in unbelievable form, I schooled him during the week ahead of Balmoral and he went very well – I’m feeling very confident, so hopefully it goes well for us this weekend.”

It’s still all to play for with Ballypatrick’s Kevin Gallagher and Ballypatrick Flamenco (ISH) on 10 points going into the third leg, followed closely by the Army Equitation School’s Captain Geoff Curran and Glengarra Wood (ISH) on nine points.

The Horse Sport Ireland Premier Series at Balmoral is being live-streamed so that spectators can enjoy the sport from the safety of their homes, be sure to follow Horse Sport Ireland’s social media pages to join in on the action.

The entries for this week’s leg of the series at Balmoral are now available and can be viewed on SJI Live.

Horse Sport Ireland Premier Series Standings:

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