THE dreams, aspirations and optimism of a young County Down couple came to fruition on Saturday, when Andrew and Laura Napier opened the gates of their Ballynahinch farm for a Northern Region event at Hazeldene.
It was patently obvious that blood, sweat, tears and many long days and weeks had been spent building a huge variety of fences suitable for the three tracks, which were overseen by Jonathan Hagan.
The craftsmanship and presentation of the fences rivalled many an International event and certainly belied the fact that this was Andrew’s inaugural foray into hosting an event.
It was a ‘team’ effort in the broadest sense, with Andrew’s father, Nigel, co-ordinating a team of car parkers; sister, Lynsey, fence judging; and mother, Hazel, organising the hospitality, while Laura’s mother, Marian, was responsible for the floral dressings. In addition, many of the Hazeldene liveries were on hand to help with a wide range of duties.
There was a large attendance of Southern riders and the overwhelming consensus was that Team Napier had provided a fabulous educational day of sport.
It was another very successful outing for Gilford rider, Steven Smith, who was ‘maxed out’ with his five rides and gained three wins, a second and a third! He claimed the first of his victories in the EI 110 Open with Virginia Maguire’s ‘September Storm’ gelding, ‘Handsome Starr’, which led from the outset and finished over five points clear of Amanda Goldsbury riding ‘Fernhill Inspector’, a 10-year-old gelding owned by Nicola Roden.
It was particularly pleasing to see Ella Boyle making a successful return to the sport, after an absence of almost a year following a serious accident.
Steven Smith also topped the leaderboard in the EI 110 class with ‘Urneypark Big Cat’, a six-year-old gelding, which climbed three places after dressage following an unfortunate four faults show jumping by the early leader, Nicola Ennis and the Jim Bolger-bred gelding, ‘Dawn Arrival’, who had to settle for runner up.
Five of the six entries in the EI 110J class were Southern based and, sadly, Cliona Mitchell who was leading going into the final phase, suffered a fall just after the final fence, which left the path to success clear for 17-year-old Anna Cox from Dublin on her father’s grey gelding, ‘Frankfort Ronnie’. They held a whisker of an advantage over Susana Mullen and the very accomplished 16-year-old gelding, ‘Miracle’.
There were just three starters in the EI 110 Amateur class, where Denis Currie had a runaway victory on ‘Arodstown Aramis’, replicating his result from the previous week at Tullylish. Aoibheann Morgan, who has just returned from London for her summer break, took second place on ‘Hey Aussie’, her Thoroughbred gelding by ‘Reefscape’, who were making their first appearance in almost a year.
Jayne Moore, no stranger to success, received the best dressage score of the day when awarded a 17 (83%) in the EI 100 Amateur class with her 10-year-old ‘High Roller’ mare, ‘Laylas Way’. Despite adding 4.4 time penalties, she still had an advantage in excess of eight over second placed Rachel Keys on ‘Drumnaconnell Bellagio’, another combination getting back out after a break of almost a year.
15 competitors took on the challenge of the course in the EI 100J class, where Southern based riders occupied the top two positions. Taking centre stage was 17-year-old Charlotte McSharry from Ballsbridge and ‘Global Fairy of Hearts’, who added nothing to their first phase mark to finish with a miniscule margin over Co. Meath’s Amelia McCarthy and ‘Tillystown Girl’, who finished clear and inside time in both jumping phases.
Sibling rivalry was at its best in the EI 100P class, where 14-year-old Josh Williamson, also from Co. Meath, riding ‘Ardeo Fireman’, fended off his sister, 12-year-old Carla and her mother’s lovely chestnut gelding, ‘Galco’ to take the win by a margin of four.
Steven Smith dominated the top placings in the EI 100 class, where he secured a one-two. There was never any doubt about the win, which came on ‘Lavori’, a five-year-old gelding owned by Tessa Westbrook, sired by ‘I’m Special de Muze’, which is showing excellent consistent performances with three wins, a second and a third in its last six outings. Second place went to Susan O’Shea’s six-year-old gelding, which has an equally impressive record since its initiation this year.
Smith Brothers Eventing Yard again claimed rosettes in the EI 90 class, where Casey Webb took the honours with ‘Our Pollyanna’, David Mitchell’s five-year-old home-bred mare, by ‘Yeats’, out of an Irish Thoroughbred mare, ‘Scrabo’. ‘Our Pollyanna’ made its debut under EI rules just last month and is certainly making its presence felt in the results table. It was very pleasing that David and Hammie, were keeping a watchful eye while fence judging for the third consecutive week. Stablemate, ‘Half a Chuckle’, came in just over four points behind, ridden by Scottish vet student, Emma Webster. Emma located to the Gilford yard last year to do a veterinary placement and enjoyed it so much that she returned this year.
The award for the most surprised, but very deserving winner of the day has to go to Britt Megahey, who put his stamp on the EI 90 class with his ‘Carrick Diamond Lad’ gelding, ‘Lowhill Nice Surprise’, which was ridden to victory the week before at Tullylish by Glenpatrick Sport Horses Yard Manager, Magdalena Oleszek. Following just 0.1 of a penalty behind was Lauren Brooker riding Cindy Cunningham’s ‘Barnfield Indian Sky’. This combination occupied the exact same spot the previous week.
Back to back victories in the EI 90P class went to 14-year-old Downpatrick boy, Sam Hamilton and his mother’s ‘Westside Mirah’ gelding, ‘Cahanagh Black Flyer’. This was only their third outing as members of Eventing Ireland so, clearly, the future looks promising. 13-year-old Katie Robinson from Portadown, who just started eventing in May, took the runner up spot, with her father’s Connemara pony, ‘Duncarbery Cascade’.
Northern Region is absolutely delighted with the success of the Hazeldene event and extends a huge thank you to Andrew and Laura Napier for hosting the event and for the huge effort that went in to building the fences and preparing the courses, which were overseen by Jonathan Hagan. Thanks are also extended to the entire Napier/Turley families and the liveries at Hazeldene, together with the usual team of volunteers, without whom Northern Region could not function.
Next week, Northern Region moves to the beautiful venue of Vesey Lodge, courtesy of Ian and Alison Wilson and looks forward to another wonderful day of sport.
Saturday, July 31
EI Northern Region event at Hazeldene
EI 110 Open: 1) Steven Smith, Handsome Starr; 2) Amanda Goldsbury, Fernhill Inspector; 3) Steven Smith, Newferry Jagermeister; 4) Ella Boyle, Grafenstolz Distinction; 5) Ella Boyle, Catriona; 6) Holly Wray, Lily Mae.
EI 110: 1) Steven Smith, Urneypark Big Cat; 2) Nicola Ennis, Dawn Arrival; 3) Amanda Goldsbury, Finsceal Endeavour; 4) Amanda Goldsbury, Tullaree Ruby Tuesday; 5) Sarah Gould, Samassino; 6) Charlotte de Montmorency, Rickamore Notion.
EI 110 J: 1) Anna Cox, Frankfort Ronnie; 2) Susana Mullen, Miracle; 3) Ted O’Leary, My Ballintoghers Cracker Jack; 4) Rebekah McKinstry, Cornhill Rose; 5) Hannah Lawlor, Clougheen Cody.
EI 110 Amateur: 1) Denis Currie, Arodstown Aramis; 2) Aoibheann Morgan, Hey Aussie.
EI 100 Amateur: 1) Jayne Moore, Laylas Way; 2) Rachel Keys, Drumnaconnell Bellagio; 3) Christine McVeigh, Keeford Elamo; 4) Grainne Baxter, Cillbhrid Splash; 5) Joshua Russell, Ringmorr; 6) Lauren Brooker, CSC Indian Moondust.
EI 100 J: 1) Charlotte McSharry, Global Fairy of Hearts; 2) Amelia McCarthy, Tillystown Girl; 3) Anna White, Kilcoltrim Dora; 4) Megan Carson, Fair and Square; 5) Anna McCaldin, Rum Jumbie; 6) Lara McRobb, Courtyard Queen.
EI 100P: 1) Josh Williamson, Ardeo Fireman; 2) Carla Williamson, Galco; 3) Connie Cullen, Finding Nemo; 4) Tom Nestor, Freddie; 5) Erin McClernon, Sundance 111; 6) Eva O’Neill, Woody Sammy.
EI 100: 1) Steven Smith, Lavori; 2) Steven Smith, King-Paola; 3) Amanda Goldsbury, Comberton Coda; 4) Rachael Thompson, Govalent; 5) Casey Webb, Captain Beach; 6) Jo Andrews, The Peak Panther.
EI 90: 1) Casey Webb, Our Pollyanna; 2) Emma Webster, Half A Chuckle; 3) Aoife Gribben, Wildfire Rio; 4) Kaitie McCann, Boyher Cookies N Crème; 5) Ben Rowlatt-McCormick, Mon Ami Beauvallet; 6) Conor Savage, Doctor Pepper.
EI 90 Amateur: 1) Britt Megahey, Lowhill Nice Surprise; 2) Lauren Brooker, Barnfield Indian Sky; 3) Beth Toner, Cavalier Cobra; 4) Nichola Wray, Springhill Showman; 5) Aoife Hanratty, Newtowns Silver Bobby; 6) Nicky Nesbitt, Carrickview Saratoga.
EI 90P: 1) Sam Hamilton, Cahanagh Black Flyer; 2) Katie Robinson, Duncarbery Cascade; 3) Ruby Kinkaid, Clonberne Beauty; 4) Katie Flanagan, Son of Loki; 5) Alex Connors, Blennerville Rua; 6) Lee Bloomfield, Lonely ER VH Juxschot.