THE second of the West region qualifiers for the AIRC National Dressage Championships took place
in the stunning coastal venue of Gordon’s Bay Equestrian in Donegal on Sunday. Run by Letterkenny Riding Club, in con-junction with their annual Orla O’Reilly memorial Derby show, the qualifiers undoubtedly suffered as a result of soaring fuel costs, limiting desire within the region for the long haul to the championships in Barnadown.
Most riders taking part were definitely present for the show itself rather than the opportunity to qualify, but that in no way detracted from the standard of riding or the enjoyment had by competitors. If anything, the atmosphere was all the better for the lack of pressure to qualify. A distinctly wet and windy Saturday had given way to a moderately less wet but much calmer Sunday, allowing competitors some peace to warm up before executing their tests. Judge Patricia Warren, ably assisted by scribe Shauna Gailey, put in a relatively quick day, as just 23 combinations presented over the five classes, with four teams having been put forward for consideration.
Show secretary Suzanne Deeney Wylie had done a huge amount of arm-twisting on the run-up to the show and the competitors reaped dividends in the form of very generously sponsored prizes. The rules regarding the ratio of competitors to prizes were thrown to the north Atlantic wind and almost every competitor headed home with a prize or award from either the dressage or the derby competitions. Main sponsors, Dug-gans Veterinary, were headlining the prizes, while co-sponsors in the form of Covetrus, Interchem, Comfort Gut, Mulroy Veterinary and Kinnegar Brewing ensured a wide variety of goodies for man and beast. TopSpec sponsored the prize for the best turned out, which was rightly won by Lauren McLaughlin of Inishowen.
The show is held annually in memory of previous club member Orla O’Reilly, who was tragically killed in a horrific road accident in 2015. Orla hailed from Kilnaleck in Co. Cavan and was born and reared around horses, being of the O’Reilly family that has the much respected Omard prefix. Orla’s life was dedicated to helping people, both through her career as a youth worker and through her hobby of horse riding. She was always on hand to help out, was a huge supporter of the grassroots rider who was starting out and would be the first with words of encouragement and cheer when things weren’t going to plan.
Her family commissioned a lovely perpetual shield to be awarded to the person who it is felt most encapsulates Orla’s cheery and supportive spirit. This year, the O’Reilly family joined her fiancé Jimmy McKinney at Gordon’s Bay to present the award to Inishowen’s Dawn McAllister, who has cheerily embraced dressage on her two mounts, as the impending arrival of Dawn Junior has put a stop to her first love of jumping for the time being. No doubt Dawn will be back at the top of her jumping game just as soon as she can transfer her bump to a wheeled vehicle of its own!
The previous weekend, Shaun Brennan and Rosaleen Harkin were justifiably proud of their daughters, Tara and Eabha. The pair enjoyed another good day at the TRI Summer Tour held at Necarne Castle on Sunday, June 19, with Éabha placing joint first in the 80cm and 90cm classes on her schoolmaster mount ‘Scully’, while Tara picked up first place in the 1.10m COH/ Juniors class, having both the fastest time and only clear round in the competition.
Long journeys and hard grind at the schooling ground are paying off for these two young ladies, both of whom learned their trade at the East Donegal branch of the Pony Club.
Letterkenny Riding Club secretary Erica Robb took time out from her ridden work to enter her young mare, Ruby, in the Potential Broodmare class at the Finn Valley show and was delighted to come second in a very strong class, where the emphasis was definitely on the Irish Draught breed. With a daunting amount of form filling and paperwork associated with any show nowadays, both Erica and club chairperson, Rachel Carton, had to forego the pleasure of participation on Sunday to ensure a smoothly run day, leaving more intrepid riders to tackle the Ryan McBride designed course. No doubt all the local riding club members were glad that at least some of the younger generation chose to migrate further south to make their impact on the equestrian world. If the older fogies in the riding clubs had to take on the young guns, who thrive on speed, the scales might be weighted well in favour of the youth!
Speed merchants Dylan Browne McMonagle, Luke McAteer and Oisin Orr are racking up the winners at an impressive rate recently. Both Dylan and Oisin enjoyed recent doubles, with Oisin coming agonisingly close to the first treble of his career, when beaten a
short head on the Richard Fahey trained ‘Dare To Hope’ at Ripon on June 16. Luke drove the locally trained ‘Alice Milligan’ to a resounding victory at Down Royal on June 17 and came close to yet another double when ‘Thunderbear’ was just touched off in the five furlong the same day.
Sunday June 26
West Region Dressage Qualifier
RC Intro A: 1) Jessie D, Hannah Doherty, Inishowen 71.2%.
RC Prelim 1: 1) Jessie D, Hannah Doherty, Inishowen 66.3%; 2) Kil-
drum Boy, Grace Rodgers, In-ishowen 64.4%; 3) Ballyclogher Queen, Clodagh Brady, Stracomer 61.3%.
RC Prelim 2: 1) Fin Rough Diamond, Amy McGarvey, Donegal Gaeltacht 71.6%; 2) Bo Peat, Victoria Hopkins, Stracomer 70.2%; 3) Clyde, Liz Potter, Donegal Gaeltacht 69.8%; 4) Coolcom Starlet, Dawn McAllister, Inishowen 68.4%; 5) Moytown Joey, Samantha O’Neill, Inishowen 65.7%; 6) Farrah, Dawn McAllister 65.7%.
RC Prelim 3: 1) Kerrykeel Darcy, Francis McNicholl, Letterkenny 76.7%; 2) Carrickfact Rocco, Lor-raine Lesley, Stracomer 75.0%; 3) Loughmore Danny, Leah Farrell, Benbulben 67.6%; 4) Cullion Midnight Blue, Lauren McLaughlin, Inishowen 66.3%; 5) Sky Punch, Mickey McHugh, Donegal Gaeltacht 57.6%; 6) Actinium Lily, Lauren McLaughlin, Inishowen 56.1%.
RCN: 1) My Pal Al, Tanya Gallagher, Letterkenny 72.1%; 2) My Boy Boysie, Emily Schneider, Donegal Gaeltacht 70.2%; 3) Rinceoir, John McDaid, Donegal Gaeltacht 64.4%.
RC Team Qualifier: 1) Donegal Gaeltacht: Fin Rough Diamond, Amy McGarvey; Clyde, Liz Potter; My Boy Boysie, Emily Schneider; Rinceoir, John McDaid; 2) Stracomer: Has-
lemere Rose, Eva McGlone; Carr-ickfact Rocco, Lorraine Lesley; Bo Peat, Victoria Hopkins; Ballyclogher Queen, Clodagh Brady; 3) Inishowen Two: Cullion Midnight Blue, Lauren McLaughlin; Moytown Joey, Sam-
antha O’Neill; Farrah, Dawn McAllister; 4) Inishowen One: Coolcom Starlet, Dawn McAllister; Blackstown Masterclass, Lynne Thompson; Kildrum Boy, Grace Rodgers.
Orla O’Reilly Derby Show
RC70: 1) Kildrum Boy, Grace Rodgers, Inishowen; 2) Ballyclogher Queen, Clodagh Brady, Stracomer.
RC70 Open: 1) Clyde, Liz Potter, Donegal Gaeltacht; 2) Blackstown Masterclass, Lynne Thompson, Inishowen; 3) Pot O’Honey, Finola Murphy, Benbulben.
RC80: 1) Clyde, Evelyn McGinley, Donegal Gaeltacht; 2) Clyde, Liz Potter, Donegal Gaeltacht; 3) Moytown Joey, Samantha O’Neill, Inishowen; 4) Above & Beyond, Lesley McMorris, Inishowen; 5) Pot O’Honey, Finola Murphy, Benbulben.
RC80 Open: 1) Killian Boy, Therese Anderson, Benbulben; 2) Sky Punch, Mickey McHugh, Donegal Gaeltacht; 3) Kerrykeel Darcy, Francis McNicholl, Letterkenny.
RC90: 1) Cullion Midnight Blue, Lauren McLaughlin, Inishowen; 2) Sky Punch, Mickey McHugh, Donegal Gaeltacht; 3) Killian Boy, Therese Anderson, Benbulben.
RC90 Open: 1) Burinex, Clemence Courcey, Donegal Gaeltacht; 2) My Boy Boysie, Emily Schneider, Donegal Gaeltacht.
RC100: 1) My Boy Boysie, Emily Schneider, Donegal Gaeltacht; 2) Burinex, Clemance Courcy, Donegal Gaeltacht; 3) Sally Clover Supreme, Cliff Haley, Donegal Gaeltacht.
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