THIS year’s AIRC (Association of Irish Riding Clubs) Riding Clubs Festival, which gets underway this weekend, will embark on a new chapter as it takes place at Mullingar Equestrian Centre, just outside Mullingar in Co. Westmeath for the first time.
The two-day show, which attracted just under 1,800 entries across 70 classes in dressage, show jumping, showing and working hunter takes place on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10.
There are four main championships on offer in the Horse Sport Ireland showing rings this year, while a team representing the British Riding Clubs will compete in the feature TRI Equestrian Team Show Jumping Challenge. The dressage programme includes the Irish Field Team Dressage Challenge, along with competitions in dressage to music, long arena, musical ride and prix caprilli.
Aside from the huge number of competitions on offer, there will be a trade village with a variety of exhibitors, while the social programme of events has given a boost with many new additions. Tony’s Table Quiz will take place on the Friday night, while each region will battle it out for the Glitterball Trophy in a fun talent show on Saturday night, which will be followed by a disco.
There will be a free yoga session on Sunday morning with thanks to Physiofit Nenagh, while the dog show returns this year on the Sunday, with seven classes on offer with thanks to Centrepiece Rosettes and Feedwell Dog Foods with all monies raised going to the Irish Blue Cross.
Aside from this, the three main sponsors of the two-day show have reaffirmed their commitment to the event.
TRI Equestrian’s managing director Philip Masterson said: “TRI Equestrian are very pleased to continue our support of show jumping at the AIRC Festival. The Riding Club network provides such a valuable platform for thousands of riders across the country, we are delighted to be able to support this prestigious event. Our longstanding relationship with the AIRC is of huge importance to us and we look forward to meeting and supporting our customers at Mullingar this weekend.”
The Irish Field’s managing editor, Leo Powell, who sponsors the dressage, said: “2018 represents the seventh year of sponsorship at the Riding Clubs Festival by The Irish Field. We have never wavered in our support for the event, as it typifies all that is best about grassroots equestrianism. The camaraderie, as well as the competition at the event, makes it very special and, together with a new location in the excellent Mullingar Equestrian Centre, I believe this year’s renewal will be the best yet.”
Meanwhile, Horse Sport Ireland’s Director of Breeding and Programmes, Alison Corbally, said: “Once again, we are delighted to be sponsoring the Irish Draught and Connemara performance and showing classes at the annual Riding Clubs Festival. We are delighted to see a consistent number of Irish Draughts coming out to compete at this level and the increase of entries in the Connemara classes shows great support for our native breeds. We look forward to yet another fantastic event.”
Association of Irish Riding Clubs chairman, Tony Ennis said: “Our flagship event began in Punchestown and has taken place at Tattersalls, Goffs and more recently in Stradbally and I would like to thank Thomas Cosby for having us for so many years on his estate since 2006.
“As we embark on this new exciting chapter in Mullingar, we have almost 100 clubs attending, with almost 800 horses competing over the two days and, without the support of our three loyal sponsors, it would be impossible to stage this event. I want to thank them for their continued support on behalf of our members,” he added.