THERE was tangible excitement at the Meadows Equestrian Centre, Lurgan on Saturday for the first of two Flexi Eventing Shows aimed at providing dressage and show jumping training before the national events get back up and running. The 400 entries were testament to how the announcement was received by competitors in both disciplines. Covid-19 protocols were well enforced, with ample hand washing stations in existence, as well as regular sanitisation of toilets etc and car parking was marked out in coned segments.
The dressage was very well self-contained in the grass arenas, where there was an abundance of floral decorations.
Action got underway in Arena 1 at 8.24am under the watchful eye of Vanda Stewart whose scribe, Claire Palmer was located in a separate car.
The leader-board of the very heavily subscribed Intro class was heavily weighted by young riders, with the top three places taken by those aged 16 years and under. The winner was Letterkenny-based Sorcha Hanly with her bay gelding, ‘My Seafield Romeo’, who scored an impressive 75.5%.
Second place went to Abby Cummiskey on ‘Crackerjack V111’, a 14-year-old gelding by ‘Catherston Gold Storm’, previously campaigned very successfully by Tola Thompson. Abby, who has enjoyed great success in the last few years including being crowned the Baileys Horse Feeds Flexi Champion for 2019, is very much looking forward to competing him when the eventing season resumes.
Another young rider, Lucy McDowell claimed third spot on board a very accomplished pony, ‘Lisnahall Miss Toffee’, previously ridden by Kerry Magill.
Judy Maxwell of Baileys Horse Feeds very kindly sponsored feed for the top three in each class and she was on hand, in her own segregated area, to make the presentations at the end of the day.
The Pre-Novice class was judged by David Patterson, who awarded his top marks from the 35 starters to Erin Barlow riding her nine-year-old mare, ‘VSS Bling Bling’, completing on a score of 71.3%. Joint second place went to Kerry Magill on ‘Bonmahon Quickstep’, a seven-year-old gelding by ‘Bonmahon Master Blue’, which has been evented for most of two years by Johnny Mulligan. Joining Kerry in that second spot was Caoimhe Crozier on ‘Kildromin Banjo’, a Connemara pony by ‘Glendine Kestrel’. This combination has enjoyed plenty of success over their two year eventing partnership.
Meantime, Vanda Stewart was also charged with scrutinising the 23 competitors in the Novice class and five Intermediate riders.
Best of the Novice class was Penny Sangster and ‘Digger’, who scored 73%. Penny, who recently moved to Northern Ireland from East Sussex, is a BHS Accredited Coach, now based with Jasper and Caroline de Montmorency.
Anna White took second place with ‘Jimmy Thunderstruck’, with whom she has claimed a number of eventing wins over the past two years, as well as successes in other disciplines. Ben Rowlatt-McCormick slipped into third place, just half a penalty point behind with ‘Barnaby’.
The Intermediate class saw victory go to Alex Houston with ‘Skyfall Echo’, her 12-year-old ‘Clover Echo’ mare, which she has evented for the past seven years. The Riley sisters, Katie and Izzy, took the next two spots with ‘Woody’ and ‘Molly’ respectively.
There were two show jumping arenas in action all day to provide lots of educational training from 60cm right through to 1.30m.
Sincere thanks go to the judges and scribes, as well as the very busy and extremely efficient Call Up Steward, Jessica Burns, who came straight off a night shift in a residential home to carry out her duty. It is this sort of dedication, as well as the willingness of scribes and judges to sit for very long sessions, that make the sport so unique.
Thanks, too, to Judy Maxwell, who is an incredible ambassador and supporter of eventing and, indeed, all aspects of equestrianism.
Saturday, June 20
Intro – Judge: Vanda Stewart: 1) Sorcha Hanly, My Seafield Romeo; 2) Abby Cummisky, Crackerjack V111; 3) Lucy McDowell, Lisnahall Miss Toffee; =4) Bronagh Stevenson, Chicca; Megan Nelson, Diamond; 6) Lara McRobb, Cheska.
Pre Novice – Judge: David Patterson: 1) Erin Barlow, VSS Bling Bling; =2) Caoimhe Crozier, Kildromin Banjo; Kerry Magill, Bonmahon Quickstep; 4) Janie Cairns, Ellie 5) Ami McNeice, Just SJ; =6) Katie Haire, Galway Girl; Felicity McConnell, Finding Nemo.
Novice – Judge: Vanda Stewart: 1) Penny Sangster, Digger; 2) Anna White, Jimmy Thunderstruck; 3) Ben Rowlatt-McCormick, Barnaby; 4) Noah Brown, Euro Jackpot; 5) Denis Currie, Arodstown Aramis; 6) Janie Cairns, Charlie.
Intermediate – Judge: Vanda Stewart: 1) Alex Houston, Echo; 2) Katie Riley, Molly; 3) Izzy Riley, Woody; 4) Denis Currie, Arodstown Aramis; 5) Alex Houston, Indy.