DIRRAW Farm, Finvoy, the venue for last week’s final Northern Region event of the spring season, looked resplendent in the lovely late May sunshine and huge credit must go to the Campbell family for all their hard work in preparing for this event, now in its 10th year. With hedges trimmed pristinely, grass mowed like a golf course, sun glistening in the man-made lake and the beautiful horse figure, sculptured out of a fallen beech tree from the farm, all combined to create an impression of a venue where pride reigned supreme. One could easily have thought they were at a top class International event, such was the attention to detail, right from the moment you turned into the driveway. Adam Stevenson had worked very hard on course preparation to create a very flowing course for all three classes, where faults were evenly spread. Aaron McCusker did sterling work in the new Carpet Gallop Fibre show jumping arena, which was being formally ‘christened’.
‘A’ level student, Patrick Eames had plenty to celebrate, having topped the leaderboard in the EI 110 Open class with his mother’s 14-year-old ‘Puissance’ gelding, ‘Peruising’. The pair, who were just enjoying their fifth outing as a partnership, led from the outset and finished half a penalty point clear of Steven Smith competing Virginia Maguire’s ‘Handsome Starr’, a nine-year-old gelding by ‘September Storm’. Virginia, herself, has been the source of much sustenance all season to the secretarial, control and scoring teams, for which they are most grateful.
Steven Smith took the honours in the 18-strong EI 110 class on board the John McBride bred seven-year-old ‘Ringfort Cruise’ gelding, ‘Mr Diceman’, giving them their first win at this level. They were followed by local veterinary surgeon, Rosie Alcorn and ‘Centre Fold Belle’, an eight-year-old gelding by ‘Centrestage’. Rosie continued her good fortune by taking the win in the heavily subscribed EI 100 class with ‘Chrysanthos’, the six-year-old son of her CCI2* (now 3*) horse, ‘Fiorella’. They enjoyed a 2.5 penalty lead over second placed Hollie Smith and ‘Urneypark Big Cat’, who also finished on their flatwork mark.
Meantime, Ahoghill rider, Hannah Thompson certainly made her presence felt in the EI 100 Amateur class, where she claimed the top two spots, adding nothing to either first phase mark. She took the win on her eight-year-old mare, ‘Sam Mar Riverland Imp’ and the runner up placing on Rachael Thompson’s ‘Loughry Lad’ mare, ‘Jemeela Charm’.
Anna White replicated her Maddybenny success by claiming the red rosette in the EI 100P class with her mother’s 10-year-old mare, ‘Creaghduff Annie May’. They finished almost two points clear of Erin McCrea and Clinton McCrea’s ‘Knockagarron Fear Bui Phoenix’.
15 Junior riders passed through the start box in their division of the EI 100 class, where show jumping penalties took their toll. Only the top two competitors managed to keep the slates clean, with 17-year-old Dungannon student, Bethany Smith maintaining a half-point advantage on the very accomplished ‘Dun Surprise’ over second placed Sarah O’Shea and the equally accomplished ‘Youngstars Cheetah’.
The EI 90 Amateur class saw Helen Andrews steal the show, with victory on her maiden outing with her 10-year-old skewbald mare, ‘April Pizzazz’, previously campaigned by Janie Cairns. They finished on their sub-30 dressage score, one and a half points clear of Eilidh Gribben and ‘V Zermie 51’, a Dutch-bred gelding owned by Barbara Dixon.
It was very pleasing to see Lucy Toombs back in the winning enclosure, following a series of mishaps. Riding ‘Mithril Lace’, she finished on her impressive dressage score of 24, fractionally ahead of Kaiti McCann and her superb little skewbald mare, ‘Boyher Cookies and Crème’, who were competing under Eventing Ireland rules for just the second time.
13-year-old Aghalee girl, Anna McErlean captured her first win with Jenny Rollins’s Connemara pony, ‘Raford Jack’. They finished 0.3 points ahead of Dungannon girl, Connie Cullen, also 13, with the very recently acquired pony, ‘Finding Nemo’. The success and number of these young pony riders augurs very well for the future of the sport.
Northern Region is deeply indebted to Alan, Muriel, Christopher and Kim Campbell for hosting this superb event and for making everyone – spectators, competitors and officials – feel so welcome. Thanks, too, to the ‘Friends of Finvoy’, who worked very hard with the Campbell family to ensure that everything was perfect on the day. As always, deep appreciation goes to all the volunteers, including those from Bann Valley Riding Club, who carried out their duties with great aplomb.
Organisers extend the very best of ‘Good Luck’ to all the members, who are travelling to Millstreet for the International Event this week and look forward to seeing everyone back at Tullymurry in July, courtesy of the Turley and O’Connor families.
Saturday, May 29
Dirraw Farm, Finvoy
EI 110 Open: 1) Patrick Eames, Peruising; 2) Steven Smith, Handsome Starr; 3) Denis Currie, Arodstown Aramis; 4) Leah Knight, Martini.
EI 110: 1) Steven Smith, Mr Diceman; 2) Rosie Alcorn, Centre Fold Belle; 3) Edgar Boggs, Camiro de Clover; 4) Gemma Goodrich, Lisnamuck What A Cracker; 5) Connor McClory, Ellie Eagle; 6) Ian McCluggage, Ballylurgan Imperial Fly.
EI 100: 1) Rosie Alcorn, Chrysanthos; 2) Hollie Smith, Urneypark Big Cat; 3) Casey Webb, Shanaghan New Horizon; 4) Steven Smith, Jaguar Blues; 5) Steven Smith, Charles Imp; 6) Steven Smith, Kitten Touch.
EI 100 Amateur: 1) Hannah Thompson, Sam Mar Riverland Imp; 2) Hannah Thompson, Jemeela Charm; 3) Jayne Moore, Laylas Way; 4) Christine McVeigh, Keeford Elamo; 5) Olivia Johns, Lagans Peter; 6) Lauren Brooker, CSC Indian Moondust.
EI 100 P: 1) Anna White, Creaghduff Annie May; 2) Erin McCrea, Knockagarron Fear Bui Phoenix; 3) Dylan Torrens, Glenarousk Flash Bandit; 4) Anna McCaldin, Mon Ami Tonnerre; 5) Lauren McGlennon, Glencaugh Draiocht; 6) Lucy Knight, VSI Dakota.
EI 100 J: 1) Bethany Smith, Dun Surprise; 2) Sarah O’Shea, Youngstars Cheetah; 3) Maria Carr, Tynan Smoke Joe; 4) Lucy McIlroy, Major Black; 5) Lara McRobb, Courtyard Queen; 6) Kate McLaughlin, Bocade Renaissance.
EI 90 Amateur: 1) Helen Andrews, April Pizzazz; 2) Eilidh Gribben, V Zermie 51; 3) Alexandra Russell, Milk Wa Van Het Lindehof; 4) Kate Latimer, Ardnaglass Choco; 5) Kirstin Thom, Rock Gem; 6) Beth Toner, Cavalier Cobra.
EI 90: 1) Lucy Toombs, Mithril Lace; 2) Kaiti McCann, Boyher Cookies N Crème; 3) Grace Moore, Canadian Clipper; 4) Emma Irwin, PSH Let’s Tango; 5) Ruby Proctor, Little Autumn Bee; 6) Jonathan West, Monmurry
EI 90 P: 1) Anna McErlean, Raford Jack; 2) Connie Cullen, Finding Nemo; 3) Erin McClernon, Sundance 111; 4) Lauren Madine, Moonshine Melody; 5) Molly O’Connor, Coolnaleen Rebel; 6) Lee Bloomfield, Lonel ‘ER’ VH Juxschot.