LIKE the Phoenix rising from the ashes (or perhaps the Rubber Duck coming to the surface of the bath water), the All-Ireland Carriage Driving Championships 2019 went ahead at Tynan Abbey, Armagh, supported by Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Borough Council over the weekend of August 17 and 18, despite the horrendous weather thrown at the organisers in the week prior to the competition. This saw obstacles, equipment and fields submerged in water, with comments similar to Dr Foster going to Gloucester, springing to mind, as volunteers rescued the equipment from floating away.
As competitors arrived, there was some doubt as to whether the weather was going to take a toll on the event – but, under the leadership of Chairman, Alwyn Morrison, and his crew of elves performing miracles overnight the competition was reconstructed. With the assistance of the landowners and staff of Tynan Abbey and the positive input of the Technical Delegate and President of Ground Jury, the event was able to run.
The scorer and secretarial team performed miracles, rescheduling times almost instantly to facilitate a single dressage arena and a re-sited cones arena. All this was only possible with the co-operation and understanding of the competitors.
Meanwhile, the work crew re-sited five obstacles and revised the marathon course, working late into the night so that the competition could take place.
Saturday dawned to a breeze and sunshine, helping to dry out the grounds. The dressage phase for the regional qualifier classes was overseen by the President of Ground Jury, Mrs J Simpson (GB) and the Hon Mrs Sarah Mullins (IRL) in the McKinney Motors Arena. Competitors, upon completion of the dressage phase, then transferred to the Cones Arena, where they were overseen by judges Mrs Mary Bryson (GB) and Mr Ivor Harper (IRL). After a break for lunch, the roles were reversed, seeing Mrs M Bryson (GB) and Mr Ivor Harper (IRL) judging dressage for the non-qualifying classes, with Mrs Joyce Simpson (GB) and the Hon Sarah Mullins (IRL) taking over the reins in the cones arena.
Saturday evening saw competitors enjoying themselves with a BBQ and hooley in the barn, organised by the NICDA (Northern Ireland Carriage Driving Association) committee and the on site caterers, prior to the marathon phase on Sunday morning.
Again the weather was in everyone’s favour on Sunday, with the drying breeze and sun shining, helping to further dry the ground for the competition. Competitors drove a shortened marathon route, negotiating five testing obstacles, to decide the Overall Champions in each class.
The association would like to thank the sponsors for their understanding and generosity to facilitate the event: Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Borough Council; Baileys Horse Feeds; Ferguson International; Mobility Direct NI; Burren Balsamic; NAFF Equine; Carson Cider; Kingsfield Haylage; Kingsfield Equine Veterinary Group; McKinney Motors, Armagh; Sara’s Carvery; Lyons NI; The Bell Family; The Harper, Hewitt & Young Family; Donnelly Motors Dungannon; D Muldoon & Sons Funeral Services; Belfast Crystal and Horse First.
Each of the All-Ireland Carriage Driving Champions received a beautiful trophy from Belfast Crystal and a commemorative sash and rosette sponsored by D Muldoon & Sons. NICDA would extend their thanks and congratulations to all who competed and, to the Overall Champions, very well done!
CRYSTAL CLASS, sponsored by Lyons NI: Sarah Hughes.
PRE-NOVICE, sponsored by ABC Council: Georgina Morrison.
VERY SMALL EQUINE, sponsored by NICDA: Yvonne Harrington.
NOVICE SINGLE PONY, sponsored by Baileys Horse Feeds: David Morrison.
NOVICE PAIRS, sponsored by McKinney Motors: Alex Bryson.
NOVICE SINGLE HORSE, sponsored by Ferguson International: John Hughes.
PARA CLASS, sponsored by Mobility Direct NI: Emma Golding.
OPEN SINGLE PONY, sponsored by Kingsfield Equine Vets: Des Sheridan.
PONY PAIRS, sponsored by Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Council: Richard Logan.
PONY TANDEM, sponsored by Harper, Hewitt & Young family: Suzie Ewing.
INTERMEDIATE SINGLE PONY, sponsored by Burren Balsamic: Jeffery Lyons.
OPEN SINGLE HORSE, sponsored by Kingsfield Haylage: Sara Clinghan.
HORSE PAIRS, sponsored by NAFF Equine: Robert McNeill.
HORSE TEAMS, sponsored by NAFF Equine: Robert Bowman.
FASTEST COMPLETED MARATHON, sponsored by Horse First: Des Sheridan.