THE equestrian athletes definitely proved their steely worth when they braved the snowy and icy conditions to travel to the Meadows Equestrian Centre, Lurgan for the fourth leg of the Baileys Horse Feeds Flexi Eventing Series. There, they were greeted by sunshine and perfect arena conditions, as staff had worked hard all week to ensure that any frost did not take hold.
Unfortunately, there were some withdrawals as riders had been unable to exercise their horses during the week due to frozen conditions, but well over 200 combinations participated across the three disciplines.
This week organisers were privileged to have Jeremy Spring, former three-day eventer and renowned coach, judging the Novice and Intermediate classes.
In the Novice section, Wallace High School pupil, Kerry Magill proved that last week’s result was not a flash in the pan, as she gained a back-to-back victory with her ‘Song of Freedom’ pony, ‘Toffee’, who finished half a point clear of the very accomplished combination of Denis Currie and ‘Arodstown Aramis’. Denis was able to squeeze an Intermediate test in too before making a quick dash to the Aviva Stadium to watch Ireland’s defeat to England.
Jeremy awarded a score of 71.4 and first place in the Intermediate class to Abi Carlisle and ‘Monkey’, her mother’s 12-year-old gelding on which she has enjoyed much eventing success. Last week’s winner at this level, Hannah Blakely came in two points behind with ‘Clerkson’.
Meantime, the predominance of entries at Intro level meant a class split. Top of Myra Greeves’s batch with almost 75% was Lynne Spence with ‘Autumn’, her seven-year-old mare by ‘King of Mourne’. Lynne has had her since the mare was two and has enjoyed great success in many spheres, including NIF Reserve Supreme Champion as a four-year-old and numerous other Working Hunter placings. Sadly, the mare had to take a year out due to a viral illness but, clearly, has come back with a vengeance to take the win in a highly competitive class. Runner up with a score of 72.3 was Robbie Collins with his five-year-old gelding, ‘Dunrath Navigator’, who was an Intro winner in the inaugural week. One of the youngest and most consistent combinations, Abby Cummiskey and ‘CSC Apache Dove’ came third scoring 71.5 and Nicky Nesbitt riding ‘Carrickview Saratoga’ also surpassed the 70% barrier to take fourth.
The ‘B’ section, judged by Emma Andrews, saw the top seven score over 70%. Best of the bunch was Jenny Nixon from South Belfast, who gained an amazing 77% on ‘Harley’, which she bought as a five-year-old just two years ago. Jenny, who was the stalwart dressage call up steward the previous week, is very modest about her accomplishments but this is definitely a partnership to watch in the future. Runner up was a delighted Grace O’Shaughnessy with ‘Cooper’, her 12-year-old gelding, whose registered name is ‘Usice’, Irish for water. She credits her acquirement to her coach, Colin Halliday, who sourced the horse for her last September. He competed in working hunter classes with his previous owner, Caroline Chambers and Grace is hoping that he’ll take to eventing like a ‘duck to water’!
Fiona Fitzgibbon took the eye of the Pre-Novice Judge, Lucinda Webb-Graham, with ‘Donny’, a seven-year-old Warmblood by ‘Don Romantic’. ‘Donny’ is owned by Para Dressage rider, Edel Quinn. Edel is aiming him for Para Dressage from 2020 onwards following her planned surgery later this year. In the meantime, Fiona will continue to produce and compete him in preparation for greater things and, since this was just their second show as a partnership, the future definitely looks bright.
Fermanagh’s Maeve Lunny occupied second spot with ‘Okee Dokee’, her 16-year-old Welsh cob whom she describes as an ‘absolute gem’. He really is an all-rounder and, in the four years she has had him, she has competed in SJI and Dressage and ‘Okee Dokee’ is also a star of the Enniskillen Branch of the RDA, where he is suitable for all ages and abilities. Maeve says ‘what he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in attitude’! Judging by Saturday’s results, he doesn’t appear to have any difficulty in the former.
The show jumping results do not pay credence to the efforts of all, as there was a significantly high percentage of ‘four-faultitis’! However, once again, riders paid great compliments to the courses in all classes and to the educational experience gained at all levels.
The three cross-country courses were notched up a level this week in terms of technicality and difficulty and certainly created plenty of learning opportunities for both riders and horses.
Sincere thanks go to the staff at the Meadows for all their painstaking work maintaining all arenas and ensuring that the going was perfect.
Thanks, too, to all judges, scribes, call up stewards, arena parties and office staff, whose collective efforts make this a very successful series.
As always, deepest gratitude goes to Judy Maxwell of Baileys Horse Feeds for her sponsorship and dedication to the Flexi Eventing.
Dressage entries for next week’s show close at 6pm on Wednesday. Text 07876 758979 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arena 1 – Intro ‘A’ – Judge: Myra Greeves: 1) Lynne Spence, Autumn; 2) Robbie Collins, Dunrath Navigator; 3) Abby Cummiskey, CSC Apache Dove; 4) Nicky Nesbitt, Carrickview Saratoga; 5) Aislin Captain, Apache Feather; 6) Lynne Spence, George.
Arena 1 – Intro ‘B’ – Judge: Emma Andrews: 1) Jenny Nixon, Harley; 2) Grace O’Shaughnessy, Cooper; 3) Nicola Martin, Butter; 4) Rebecca Nickels, Rosie; 5) Sarah Pannasch, Amigo; 6) Shane McKeever, KHS Impact.
Arena 2 – Pre Novice – Judge: Lucinda Webb-Graham: 1) Fiona Fitzgibbon, Donny; 2) Maeve Lunney, Okee Dokee; 3) Alex Cleland, Rafa Smash; 4) Leah Knight, Beanie; 5) Abby Cummiskey, CSC Apache Dove; 6) Alex Ogle, Ronaldo.
Arena 3 – Novice – Judge: Jeremy Spring: 1) Kerry Magill, Toffee; 2) Denis Currie, Arodstown Aramis; 3) Charlotte Keers, Western Ocala; 4) Gemma Goodrich, Lisnamuck What A Cracker; 5) Orlagh Halliday, Elsarco; 6) Justine Harding, Charissma.
Arena 3 – Intermediate – Judge: Jeremy Spring: 1) Abi Carlisle, Monkey; 2) Hannah Blakely, Clerkson; 3) Helen Faulkner, Danny; 4) Denis Currie, Arodstown Aramis; 5) Ella Boyle, George; 6) Ella Boyle, Vogue.
Show jumping (double clears)
70cm: Helen Faulkner, Ebony; Abbie Wylie, Charlie; Katie Clarke, Mulvin Blue Moon; Leah Knight, Patrick; Ella Heron, Reilly.
80cm: Helen Faulkner, Kontiki; Simone Leathem, Trendy; Olivia Roulston, Tom; Katie Watson, Lissyegan Bay News.
90cm: Lyndsay Barnett, Morning de la Bouverie; Louise Houston, Tom.
1m: Hannah Blakely, Clerkson; Abby Cummiskey, CSC Apache Dove; Christina Turley, Bob; Charlotte Keers, Western Ocala; Emma Brown, Tina; Marina Hope, Dodger; Zara Keys, Fred; Olivia Roulston, Calli; Lucy Telford, Billy.
1.10m: Olivia Roulston, Linzi; Justine Harding, Joe; Rachel Rendle, Ballyvalley Bay; Jessica McConnell, Finding Nemo; Connor Savage, Teddy.
Cross-Country (clear rounds)
80cm: Katie Clarke, Mulvin Blue Moon; Katie Crozier, Colorado; Justine Harding, Mojo; Meabh McKeown, Rock the Boat; Neil Morrison, Miss Marple; Neil Morrison, Diamond; Katie Crozier, Colorado; Sophie Moore, Sunday; Bree Rutledge, Jewel; Gemma Perkins, Ted; Nicci Hall, Sunny.
90cm: Margaret Creighton, Dolly; Abby Cummiskey, CSC Apache Dove; Nicky Nesbitt, Carrickview Saratoga; Hannah Thompson, Kelly; Carolyn Avery, Bruno; Evan Hobson, Promise Me; Wendy Kirk, Bear; Vicky Henry Potter, Lily; Meabh McKeown, Rock The Boat; Lexi Kerr, Pepsi Max; Leah Knight, Ben; Laura Kelly, Drumnaconnell Dromona; Ellen Graham, Kharma; Ellen Graham, Eclipse; Clare Abbott, Sparky; Carly Douglas, Reggie.
1m: Robbie Collins, Dunrath Navigator; Gemma Goodrich, Lisnamuck What A Cracker; Emma Brown, Tina; Clare Abbott, Spud; Leah Knight, Belle; Leah Knight, Milo; Leah Knight, Brealyn; Nichola Wray, Lady Grey V1; Carly Douglas, Reggie.