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HomeHorse WeekHorse EventsLauren and ‘Sparrow’ claim Pony Championship at Hagans Croft

Lauren and ‘Sparrow’ claim Pony Championship at Hagans Croft

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HAGANS Croft saw the start of their four-week Working Hunter League on Saturday, June 12, with a jam-packed schedule of classes and Northern Ireland Festival (NIF) qualifiers for both horses and ponies alike.

The morning started out at 9.30am, with the horse classes and the 60cm and Four-year-old class. Rachel Freil and ‘Alghan Nipper’ were the only pairing to keep all poles intact over the course, which set them up to achieve first place and the red ribbon.

Only five clears were to be seen within the jumping phase of the 70cm horse class, therefore it was down to the show phase, where Megan Houston and ‘Craigmount Sparrow’ shone through with their immaculate tack and turnout and top marks for their manners and performance. A well deserved red ribbon went to this pairing.

Moving on to a strong 80cm horse class with a total of 10 competitors, judge Fiona Young had a few hard decisions to make! Few marks separated the top four placings, but there were two competitors who stood out. First place was awarded to Aimee McKeown and ‘Russel’, who finished on 94 points, while second went to Hannah Blakely and ‘Lougherne After Dark’, who finished on 93 points!

A new class to be added to Hagans Croft’s Working Hunter schedule was the 80cm Cob class. Only one mighty cob turned out for this class and that was Judith Auten’s ‘Kevin’, who had the red rosette in the bag. Hagans Croft would hope to see a better uptake for this class over the next few weeks.

As the horse classes were well underway, more new classes were starting up in the show field. New to Hagans Croft’s Working Hunter is the ‘minion’ classes, which are for ponies, starting at cross-pole height and moving upwards to 40cm, 50cm and 60cm classes. This course consisted of nine fences and was a nice inviting flowing course of rustic fences, perfect for those starting out on their Working Hunter journey. Currently, these classes are just for ponies, however, if there was interest, Hagans Croft would consider putting on horse classes also.

Mandy Blakely was the judge for the minions classes and Hagans Croft was delighted to have Mandy starting her judging career at this venue; competitors were also delighted with Mandy’s words of encouragement and support. Everyone was a winner in the cross-poles class, with all three competitors clear – Jessica Curran, Sofia Taylor and Pippa Leathem. All three girls rode superbly well behaved and turned out ponies!

The 40cm minion class saw Olivia Rodgers and ‘Motivator’ placing first and Tabitha Cullen riding ‘So Cool’ placing second. Both girls were delighted, as this was their first attempt at Working Hunter – let’s hope this success has encouraged the girls to attend each week!

Some difficulties were to be seen within the 50cm class and, with no entries in the 60cm minion class, spectators moved back down to the main arena for some action in the 85cm Small Horse Hunter classes. Beth Taylor and ‘Millyard Bobstar’ shone through within this class; finishing on a strong 92 points, they claimed the first place ribbon, followed by Niamh Allen-Collins in second place with ‘Lougherne Postman Pat’.

It was success again for Hannah Blakely in the 90cm horse class, this time on ‘Lougherne Kingfisher’ finishing in first place, followed by Emma Irwin and ‘Tango’ in second.

Niamh Allen-Collins gained more ribbons for their efforts in the 1m class, this time it was the red ribbon on ‘Lougherne Leo’. It was a pleasure to watch this pair in action – well done! Megan Nelson finished in second place within the 1m and went on to claim Reserve Champion Working Hunter Horse, with another grey ‘Millyard Bobstar’ ridden by Beth Taylor, being awarded Champion Working Hunter Horse on the day. Congratulations girls!

The afternoon saw the arrival of more ponies to take on the strong course of 60cm fences in the main arena. Scoring was tight within the 60cm class, however, Lauren Gordon and ‘Sparrow’ tipped Charlotte Nelson and ‘Reggie’ to the top spot.

Sophia Madeley and Brooke Rice battled it out for first and second placings in the 70cm class, with 0.5 points separating their overall scores. However, it was the red ribbon for Sophia Madeley and ‘Alfie’ and the blue ribbon for Brooke Rice and ‘Stranray Luigi’. Not to be outdone, Brooke and ‘Stranray Luigi’ upped their anti for the 80cm pony class and secured the red ribbon.

For their first time competing at a Working Hunter competition, Jessica Rodgers certainly took on the challenge of the 90cm pony class. Clear in their jumping phase, they went into their showing phase in a strong position, finishing on a score of 87 points they secured the red ribbon. Jessica and her mount have been attending the Toni Donnelly Working Hunter clinics at Hagans Croft, therefore all their hard work is certainly paying off in the show ring and getting the expert advise to gain those extra few pointers and tips to excel!

There were no entries for the 1m pony class, therefore, the last class of the day was the Pony Championship. This is judged as a separate class, where first and second placings throughout the pony classes on the day are eligible to take part. Fiona Young had some very hard decisions to make, therefore, it came down to very minor details. A delighted Lauren Gordon and ‘Sparrow’ were awarded Champion Working Hunter Pony and Sophia Madeley and ‘Alfie’ Reserve Champion Working Hunter Pony. The smiles on the girls’ faces as they cantered their lap of honour was super and what a way to start the weekend!

Hagans Croft would like to thank everyone who supported this first leg of Hagan’s Croft’s four-week Working Hunter league and NIF qualifiers. This League is made possible with the following people’s help: judges – Fiona Young and Mandy Blakely; scribe – Jenny; stewards – Harriet, Lindsey and Samantha.

Thanks also to Black Horse Photography for covering the event. All photographs can be viewed and purchased from the Black Horse Photography website.

This league runs every Saturday until July 3 and is open to everyone, especially those wanting to qualify for the NI Festival at Cavan. This event is pre-entry only, with entries taken via Hagans Croft’s website: or you can download and enter through the Hagans Croft App. Entries close each Thursday at 8pm prior to Saturday’s event and start times are posted online on Thursday evenings.

To qualify for the final in week four, each horse/ pony and rider combination must compete in three out of the four weeks and within the same class. Competitors must compete in the final to be eligible for league placings, prizes and the overall league horse and pony Working Hunter Champion and Reserve Champion. Placings will be based on a points system. The final is open to everyone, with a separate prize giving taking place for competitors on the day and league competitors.

To find out more about the league, please contact Gillian on 07849 106453 or go to the website:


Saturday, June 12

Working Hunter League & NIF Qualifiers


Class A – Cross-Poles – Clear rounds: Jessica Curran, Hightopps Busy Bee; Sofia Taylor, Pepsi Coca Cola; Pippa Leathem, Silver Jubilee.

Class B – 40cm: 1) Olivia Rodgers, Motivator; 2) Tabitha Cullen, So Cool; 3) Annabelle Gill, Gracie.


Champion Working Hunter Horse: Beth Taylor, Millyard Bobstar; Reserve Champion Working Hunter Horse: Megan Nelson, Fancy.

Class 1 – 60cm Working Hunter Horse & Four-year-old Working Hunter Horse NIF: 1) Rachel Freil, Alghan Nipper; 2) Hannah Ogle, Casements Cavalier; 3) Shane Doyle, Sofia.

Class 2 – 70cm Working Hunter Horse: 1) Megan Houston, Craigmount Sparrow; 2) Michelle Strange, Quality Galore; 3) Jessica House, Khalasar; 4) Sarah Skelton, Ballyneety Quality; 5) Neil Knox, Let’s Get Down To Business; 6) Danni Froemling, Ralphie.

Class 3 – 80cm Working Hunter Horse NIF: 1) Aimee McKeown, Russel; 2) Hannah Blakely, Lougherne After Dark; 3) Megan McCambridge, Honey of Mourne; 4) Emma Leathem, Drumcill Step to Harmony; 5) Gill McAreavey, Marley; 6) Michelle Strange, Quality Galore.

Class 4 – 80cm Working Cob: 1) Judith Auten, Kevin.

Class 5 – 85cm Small Working Hunter Horse NIF: 1) Beth Taylor, Mill Yard Bobstar; 2) Niamh Allen-Collins, Lougherne Postman Pat; 3) Ellie Johnston, Moreno VIII; 4) Sarah Kilpatrick, Snooki; 5) Aimee McKeown, Russel.

Class 6 – 90cm Working Hunter Horse NIF: 1) Hannah Blakely, Lougherne Kingfisher; 2) Emma Irwin, Tango; 3) Lucy McGuinness, Duchess; 4) Shane Doyle, Doyles Romeo.

Class 7 – 1m Working Hunter Horse NIF: 1) Niamh Allen-Collins, Lougherne Leo: 2) Megan Nelson, Fancy; 3) Hannah Blakely, Lougherne Quintessential; 4) Laura Napier, Hazeldene Etch a Sketch.


Champion Working Hunter Pony: Lauren Gordon, Sparrow; Reserve Champion Working Hunter Pony: Sophia Madeley, Alfie.

Class 9 – 60cm Working Hunter Pony NIF Starter Stakes & M&M: 1) Lauren Gordon, Sparrow; 2) Charlotte Nelson, Reggie; 3) Alex Hemsley, Vinnie.

Class 10 – 70cm Working Hunter Pony NIF Starter Stakes & M&M: 1) Sophia Madeley, Alfie; 2) Brooke Rice, Stanray Luigi.

Class 11 – 80cm Working Hunter Pony NIF 133cm also M&M: 1) Brooke Rice, Stanray Luigi; 2) Zara Smyth, Killucan Boy; 3) Hannah Blakely, Ardgaineen Sparrow; 4) Jessica Rogers, Knockbridge Magic Moments; 5) Sophia Madeley, Alfie; 6) Megan Cooney, Princess Dusty.

Class 12 – 90cm Working Hunter Pony NIF 143cm also M&M: 1) Jessica Rogers, Knockbridge Magic Moments; 2) Zara Smyth, Killucan Boy; 3) Eva Kennedy, A Little Touch of Pepper; 4) Megan Cooney, Princess Dusty; 5) Chloe McLaughlin, Teddyboy.

Bree Rutledge

If you would like to find out more about Horse Week, Bree Rutledge can be contacted by email: or or by telephone: +44 (0) 28 9033 4493.




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