FOURTEEN competing members, together with a contingent of non-competing members and supporters from the Armagh/ Louth-based club, Ard Lú Riding Club, headed off to Mullingar Equestrian Centre to take part in the Association of Irish Riding Clubs (AIRC), Riding Clubs Festival on Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9.
The AIRC Festival is one of Ireland’s biggest amateur equestrian sporting events and attracts sponsorship from The Irish Field, TRI Equestrian and Horse Sport Ireland. Over 80 dressage, show jumping, showing and working hunter classes, for all equestrian abilities take place over the two days, this year the entries surpassed the 2,000 mark!
Huge congratulations to all those who were placed in their classes, what a tremendous achievement. There was some seriously stiff competition and large entries in classes, so to win or get placed is a very special occasion indeed and there was quite the haul of rosettes and crystal heading northwards on Sunday evening.
For still such a fledging club in the AIRC, Ard Lú Riding Club really do have some amazing members and horses, with an abundance of team spirit and moral support for everyone.
In all, 26 different classes were entered by members across the various disciplines; the first rosettes for the club were secured on the Saturday morning by club Chairperson Dianne Kelly and her 20-year-old mare ‘Highdell Titania’, who competed in the Veteran Horse (18-20-year-old) to place sixth, followed by Riding Horse (under 158cm) and placed fifth, this combination also competed in three dressage classes over the weekend, including Advanced Primary Dressage, Team Dressage Challenge and Veteran Dressage where they narrowly missed out on a placing to finish joint seventh, only 3.79% off the first place score.
Saturday was a hugely successful day for Club Treasurer Rosie Hollywood and her gelding ‘Blitzen’s Dream’, who competed in the Advanced Primary Dressage class, which due to the volume of entries was run over three separate arenas. Rosie finished first in her arena of 35 starters; the top two placings from each of the three arenas then had to compete in the Final in the afternoon, in front of the same judge in a ride off. Rosie and ‘Blitzen’ finished in an impressive second place overall. Not finished with collecting rosettes and crystal, this duo participated in three disciplines on the Sunday – Team Dressage Challenge, Intermediate Team Show Jumping and the Traditional Irish Cob showing class, which they were champion of – and resulted in them being called back to take part in The Eddie Fowler Memorial Championship.
New member Kerry Murphy and her cob ‘Rivval’s Apollo’ secured fourth place in the Cobs (Lightweight and Heavyweight) class, with ‘Apollo’ giving the judge a beautiful ride.
Another new member, Wendy Byrne and ‘Meadowfield’s Silverdust’ had a fantastic weekend, placing sixth in the Primary Performance Hunter, fourth in the Handy Horse (Primary) and third in the Primary Show Jumping.
In only their third ever dressage test, this combination missed out on a placing in the Team Dressage Challenge and finished ninth out of the 20 teams. To finish off their weekend, they took part in the fun Primary Prix Caprilli Dressage, which sees competitors perform a pre-determined test with two small jumps.
It was a real family effort when Emma Bell competed with her daughter Laura’s mare ‘Woodside Kiss Me Quick’, who placed fifth in the Handy Horse (I/AI/O/AO), retaining Emma’s placing in this class from 2018. This new combination also competed in Intermediate Dressage, Intermediate Long Arena Dressage and the Team Dressage Challenge over the weekend, with lots of improvement in scores.
Keeping it in the family, ‘Woodside Fire Dancer’ (full brother to ‘Woodside Kiss Me Quick’) competed with Clodagh McKevitt in the Intermediate Show Jumping and the Intermediate Team Show Jumping. They rode two lovely rounds, but unfortunately didn’t make the placings. This was the first time for both at the AIRC Festival and was a great learning experience.
The final member of the Intermediate Team Show Jumping was Deirdre Vallely and her super star gelding ‘Flagstaff Dream’, this was their only completion of the Festival and they did not disappoint with a super double clear.
Keeping with the show jumpers, Orlagh McParland and her gelding ‘Woodie’ took part in Advanced Intermediate Power and Speed Show Jumping, Advanced Intermediate Show Jumping and Advanced Intermediate Table A Speed Show Jumping. In the Working Hunter (AI/O/AO), they rode a lovely clear in the International Grass Arena, but unfortunately didn’t pick up a placing.
Sisters, Kerri and Hannah Rafferty, together with their respective mounts ‘Laerswill Lily’ and ‘Cor Ramler’, competed in a total of six classes. With Kerri and ‘Laerswill Lily’ producing some beautiful work between the white boards of the Advanced Intermediate Long Arena Dressage and Advanced Intermediate Dressage classes, this combination also participated in the Handy Horse (Advanced Primary) to claim a fourth place finish.
Hannah and ‘Cor Ramler’, true to form, left the arena parties with nothing to do in the Advanced Intermediate Show Jumping, Advanced Intermediate Table A Speed Show Jumping and Working Hunter (AI/O/AO), leaving all poles intact, but were unlucky not to pick up a ribbon on this occasion.
Megan Bradshaw and ‘Rockmarshall Diamond Oscar’ rode a lovely test in the Intermediate Dressage to score 67%, on the Sunday of the Festival they took part in the Novice showing and the Team Dressage Challenge.
Another new member to Ard Lú Riding Club this year, Sue O’Gorman and her gelding ‘Ross House Tyson’, had three competitions over the weekend, Handy Horse (Primary), Primary Dressage and their team finished ninth overall in the Team Dressage Challenge.
Aisleen Keenan and her dun mare ‘Uisce Beatha’ competed on the Sunday of the weekend, with their first class the Working Hunter (Cobs and Small Hunters) where they had an unlucky pole down. In the afternoon, they took part in the Team Dressage Challenge, the team finished ninth overall.
Lastly, the ever-consistent combination of Linda Nulty and ‘My Man Oreo’ rode a lovely test in both the Advanced Primary Dressage and the Advanced Primary Prix Caprilli Dressage. They placed fifth in the Handy Horse (Primary) and, in their final competition of the weekend, their team finished ninth overall in the Team Dressage Challenge. In this competition, they individually received the ninth highest score out of 75 starters.
Congratulations to all the other clubs and their members also – plenty of new friends were made across the regions. There is already great excitement for the 2020 AIRC Festival. The attention of the club has since turned to the Dressage Championship Qualifier, which took place on Sunday, June 16 at Killossery Lodge.
For more information on Ard Lú Riding Club, contact email@example.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.