THE 2019 St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride, held on September 7, was a resounding success for all involved – whether riding, crewing or helping out, it was a brilliant day enjoyed by many. With a record number of entries, the event was truly bustling with riders and horses of all ages, breeds and disciplines, enjoying the fabulous riding offered across the spectacular Lecale area. Beginning at the excellent venue of Downpatrick Racecourse, which offered ample parking, on-site stabling, camping and the ever-popular burger van, over 140 riders headed out to explore the vast routes on offer throughout the scenic County Down landscape.
Perfect riding conditions on the day made for excellent photography, picked up by the official photographer, SDS Photo. If you missed out on purchasing your photographs at the event, check out the dedicated St. Patrick’s Coast album at www.sdsphoto.pro/ ildra. All official photographs included with this article are courtesy of SDS Photo.
The St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride runs over countryside, which is both varied and beautiful. This ride has a taste of everything. All riders firstly head out towards the East Down gallops, which gave many of the horses a chance to stretch their legs at a galloping pace. Riders who chose to ride the 20-mile route, then began to descend towards the endless beaches of Tyrella to Ballykinler, which are shadowed by the impressive Mourne Mountains, before riding back up towards to the historic Old Railway line of County Down. Riders then passed by the peaceful Ballydugan Lake to join the gorgeous grassy fields of Ballydugan and the ancient Windmill Hill, which are the hidden gems of the County Down countryside and are often unseen.
Perfect ground conditions on the day allowed riders and their horses to enjoy all four of their mount’s paces, if they wished. A gentle canter or a roaring gallop through the countryside were enjoyed by many.
For riders who opted for the 10-mile option, following a racing gallop on the East Down gallops, they meandered back towards the racecourse, following a different route across stubble fields before climbing an impressive hill, which gave a sweeping view across the racetrack and Downpatrick town. These riders then passed by the old Windmill Hill and Ballydugan Lake before heading towards Hollymount Forest Park and its shaded forest tracks. Riders then crossed the County Down railway line twice through grassy fields – perfect for a warm-up canter before the riders returned onto the racecourse itself for a final gallop.
For the endurance riders, several ride distances were on offer for CTR riders, along with a 50-mile (80km) Endurance Race distance. Notably amongst the CTR (Competitive Trail Ride) and ER (Endurance Race) riders and their horses was a 100% pass rate through all of their distances and vettings. This is a true testament to the fitness and dedication to the training of their horses by the keen endurance riders on the day.
For the pleasure riders who participated, there was the option to receive an introduction to the sport of endurance riding, through taking part in a vetting to be eligible to win the Pleasure Ride trophy at St. Patrick’s Coast. Prizes were on offer for both non-member pleasure riders and member pleasure riders of ILDRA and many riders chose to try their hand at endurance and test their horse’s fitness. Pleasure riders also had the option to try their hand at competing for a Team Award this year, with groups of riders of three or four joining up to attempt to win the coveted prizes on offer from St. Patrick’s Coast’s many sponsors.
Riders simply had to invent a creative team name and declare their interest to take part and then present to the vets for a simple guided vetting procedure before and after the rides. Hopefully many will have caught the endurance bug and will try out some further endurance rides. Why not come along to this ride next year? Whether you and your horse are dressage divas or keen show jumpers, this ride is perfect for fitness training and, you never know, you might walk away with some fabulous prizes and a gorgeous trophy!
Thanks must go to the attending veterinary surgeons on the day: Stephanie Bethel MRCVS; Rachel Frew MRCVS and David Nealon MRCVS, who diligently checked all of the competitive and pleasure riders choosing to vet their horses throughout the day. All of the vets were kept busy by the number of riders keen to give endurance riding a go! Thanks, must also go to the stewards in the vetting area, who helped guide newcomers through the vetting process and the many attentive vet writers, who ably assisted the vets.
Joining St. Patrick’s Coast for the sixth year was the ever-welcome RDA. Several riders and RDA volunteers enjoyed riding along the racecourse, enjoying the rural views of the surrounding countryside. Congratulations go to all of the RDA riders who took part in this year’s ride.
A huge thank you must go to the sponsors of St. Patrick’s Coast, who have kindly supported this ride since its beginning six years ago. Many thanks to Pat Turley of Kingsfield Haylage, a long-standing sponsor of St. Patrick’s Coast, for supplying several bales of haylage as prizes and for assisting during the prize-giving. Thanks also go to Pat for his assistance during the preparation for St. Patrick’s Coast.
Judy Maxwell of Bailey’s Horse Feed also kindly supplied several bags of Bailey’s Endurance Mix as prizes, along with samples of feed and treats for all of the riders competing at St. Patrick’s Coast. Many thanks to Judy and the team at Bailey’s Horse Feed for their ongoing support.
Thanks, must go to Downpatrick Racecourse and to Richard Lyttle and the management team for allowing the usage of the racecourse’s excellent facilities and for kindly providing participants with two free entry tickets for the next race day at Downpatrick.
Thanks also go to the specialist endurance tack manufacturer Performance Equestrian, who kindly provided a voucher for a new endurance bridle as a prize for the top CTR rider.
Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant kindly provided an evening buffet meal to thank the many stewards and landowners involved in this event.
For 2019, three new sponsors joined the team at St. Patrick’s Coast, including the wonderful treat company, Likit with riders receiving a bar within their rider packs, greatly enjoyed by many horses; Coca-Cola for providing Deep Riverrock Water and Coca-Cola Zero as refreshing drinks for the many stewards and volunteers; and to Blue Frog shavings for supplying several bales of their heat-sterilised wood shavings as prizes for the riders. Thanks go to the new sponsors and organisers sincerely hope they continue to support this wonderful event as it grows in popularity.
Without the help of several stewards and volunteers on many of the road crossings, this ride would simply not exist. The organising committee of St. Patrick’s Coast is extremely thankful for their help upon the day, ensuring riders could cross safely and with care across what are busy main roads. Without their assistance, riders would be simply unable to access certain sections of the route and would miss out on some spectacular countryside views. The committee would also like to extend its thanks to the many volunteers, who have helped set up and organise the ride in the days and weeks beforehand. If you know anyone who would kindly support this ride on the day by helping at road crossings, please contact the organising committee. They will be well fed throughout the day with lunch and tasty home-baked goods of cakes and buns and they will be well thanked for their support and time.
St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride doesn’t just end with the ride. Several riders, crew, stewards, volunteers and over 40 landowners enjoyed an evening buffet at the racecourse, kindly provided by Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant. Excellent food and good company made for a wonderful evening. This meal is not only an opportunity to thank all of the wonderful landowners and volunteers involved with the ride, but it is also the much-anticipated awards presentation, where riders eagerly await to hear if they have won any of the much sought after prizes displayed in the ride office!
The Endurance Race Riders, Helen McFarland on ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ and Mary Thompson on ‘Horseware Positano’ fought a close race with only seconds between their finishing times! A true testament to both horse and rider fitness, they both completed 50 miles across the St. Patrick’s Coast routes. Several CTR riders competed at St. Patrick’s Coast to win the top CTR rider award and the chance to receive a new endurance bridle from the specialist endurance tack company of Performance Equestrian, the lucky winner of this prize was Susan Hunter on ‘Colour Cascade’.
Bree Rutledge, Horse Week’s very own editor, completed a 25-mile CTR gaining herself and her horse ‘Clovermount Rhinestone’ their Bronze Shamrock in endurance and winning the Novice Championship in this year’s ILDRA National Championships, held at St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride. Congratulations go to all of ILDRA’s CTR and ER riders on the successful completion of their rides.
Congratulations go to Gwen Jaswal and her horse ‘Queenie’, who were the winners of the Helena Connolly Pleasure Ride trophy for ILDRA members completing 20 miles. Gwen is a regular rider at ILDRA events enjoying taking part in pleasure rides.
The 2019 Kilgarry Breeze trophy, a non-member pleasure ride trophy on offer at St. Patrick’s Coast, was won by Toni Quail on ‘Susie’, who completed the 10-mile route. Several other spot prizes were awarded, including prizes for the youngest riders taking part in St. Patrick’s Coast – namely Ted Geary, Fergus Lowry and Emily Moore.
New for 2019 was the introduction of a special Pleasure Ride Team Competition event, many riders joined forces to try a vetting and have the chance to win this new trophy. Strictly Come Prancing 2 were the lucky winners of this new event – congratulations go to everyone taking part in this new class. All prize winners received a range of goodies from the sponsors, including a bag of Bailey’s feeds, Blue Frog Wood shavings and a bale of Kingsfield Haylage.
A huge thank you must go to the organising committee of St. Patrick’s Coast – ride organiser, child protection officer and chief steward, David Cunningham, who is always ably assisted by John Anderson, a man who dedicates so much time and effort to both ILDRA and St. Patrick’s Coast and without John’s help, this ride would not be the same! John is always on hand to help with anything that needs doing in relation to the ride, whether it is clearing the route or helping to move livestock, John is the go-to man. The committee would like to extend its sincere thanks and gratitude to John for all the work he does.
Thanks also go to Neil Anderson for managing logistics and Health and Safety and Kirsten Conly for running the ride office and to Maggie Pattinson, Official Vet Steward and Timekeeper. Thanks also go to Alastair Conly for managing the venue; Robyn Catterall for her scoring for the all-important awards and to Helen McFarland for organising finances.
Thanks also go to the official Ground Jury of David Cunningham, Neil Anderson, Kirsten Conly-Devlin, Maggie Pattinson and Brian Dunn. Without the work of this committee, this ride would simply not exist. The success of this ride is a testament to the dedication of the organisers, volunteers, stewards, sponsors and landowners, who ensure that this ride continues to exist and go from to strength to strength each year. There is simply no other ride in Ireland, North or South, which comes close to the spectacular scenery and off-route riding offered by the prestigious St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride. It is truly the emerald jewel of endurance riding in Ireland. Be sure to watch the official website at www.stpatrickscoastenduranceride.com for the date of next year’s ride – you’d be mad to miss out!
Saturday, September 7
St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride
80km (50 miles): 1) Helen McFarland, She Stoops to Conquer; 2) Mary Thompson, Horseware Positano (Best Condition).
40km (25 miles): Bree Rutledge, Clovermount Rhinestone.
32km (20 miles): Karina McVeigh, Cheyenne; Ruth Lyness, Autumn Whisper; Jocelyn Willis, Sam; Susan Hunter, Colour Cascade.
16km (10 miles): Gail Hadden, Diesel; Emma Hayes, Yasser Arafat.
ILDRA National Novice Championship: Bree Rutledge, Clovermount Rhinestone
Best CTR Rider: Susan Hunter, Colour Cascade.
Helena Connolly Member Pleasure Ride Trophy: Gwen Jaswal, Queenie.
Kilgarry Breeze Non-Member Pleasure Ride Trophy: Toni Quail, Susie.
Team PR Competition: 1) Strictly Come Prancing 2: Mary-Kate McClory, Gem; Grainne Maguire, Fynn; Grace Vallely, Tara; Chloe Crozier, Simba; 2) Hilltop Hackers: Gillian McCormick, Roly; Emma Wallace, Mulla Miracle; Ruth Hendry, Walter; 3) Strictly Come Prancing 1: Megan Baird, Nero; Lesley Whiteside, Reddy Teddy; Rebekah Whiteside, Maise Daisy.
Best PR Team Name: Here for the Craic: Richard Lyttle, Jayne Woodward, Rozy Corry, Ruth Garrett.
Side Saddle Award: Robyn Catterall, Arctic Eclipse.
Racehorse to Riding Horse: 1) Tahnee O’Hara, Flycorn; 2) Grainne Maguire, Fynn.
Oldest Horse completing St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride: 24-year-old ‘Calvyn’, owned by Rozy Corry.
Youngest Riders completing St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride: Ted Geary, Fergus Lowry, Emily Moore.
Lowest Final Heart Rate out of all vetted CTR and PR riders: Lynne Vinaccia, ‘Misty Blue’ – finishing on a heart rate of 34bpm.
Most Courteous Rider on Course as Spotted by the Ride Organiser: Cora McNulty, Pippa.