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Trainer Gerald Ryan has made a successful return to the saddle, winning the Celebrity Challenge at the Sydney International Horse Trials.

Competing in the showjumping arena on Sunday for the first time in more than 40 years, Ryan showed young jockeys Brenton Avdulla, Josh Adams and Kathy O’Hara he had lost none of his skill.

Ryan edged Avdulla for the title after both had a clear round over eight jumps in the ring.

“I really enjoyed it,” Ryan said. “I haven’t competed since I was 14 and went off to become a jockey.

“As I get older, it’s something I think more about doing again.

“Brenton did very well for someone who has never jumped horses before.

“We had a jump-off and we both went clear again then our other team members had a pony race to get me the win.”

On Monday Ryan will be back at the track in the early hours of the morning to put his team through their paces.

With the Sydney autumn carnival over and a Group One trophy courtesy of Peggy Jean’s Sires’ Produce win in his cabinet, Ryan is now shifting his focus to Queensland.

“Angel Of Mercy will run in the Hollindale Stakes on Saturday at the Gold Coast,” Ryan said.

“My foreman Stirling went up to see her last week and she has done really well since her last-start win.”

Angel Of Mercy won a 1600m Listed race at Doomben on April 19 and will step up to 1800 metres in the Group Two Hollindale.

She has only been tried beyond 1600m twice, having excuses both times when she pulled up lame.

Saturday’s Randwick Group Three winner Hot Snitzel will also head north for two races over the carnival.

“The races we are considering are the BTC Sprint, the BTC Cup, the QTC Cup and the Stradbroke Handicap,” Ryan said.

“He will run in two of them but which two we haven’t decided yet.”

A decision has yet to be made on the immediate targets for Group One winner Snitzerland who ran third in Saturday’s Victory Stakes at Eagle Farm.

“I thought she would be quicker off the corner,” Ryan said.

“I’ll talk to the owners over the next couple of days as to where we go next.”

 
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