THE 2018 St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride, held on September 1, was a resounding success for all involved, whether riding, crewing or helping out, it was a brilliant day enjoyed by many. Beginning at the excellent venue of Downpatrick Racecourse, offering ample parking, on-site stabling, camping and the ever-popular burger van, over 100 riders headed out to explore the vast routes on offer throughout the scenic County Down landscape.
Whether you are a keen endurance rider or a pleasure rider out enjoying this event, everyone enjoyed themselves and the brilliant horseback riding available here. A misty start to the day transformed into beautiful riding conditions of glorious sunshine, perfect for the stunning photographs captured 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 landscape, which the St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride runs over, is varied and beautiful. This ride offers a taste of everything. Riding towards the East Down gallops and, of course, the perfect galloping conditions offered by Downpatrick Racecourse itself, allowed many riders to enjoy a racing speed. From the endless beaches of Tyrella to Ballykinler, which are shadowed by the impressive Mourne Mountains, to the historic Old Railway line of County Down, the views are breath-taking. Passing the peaceful Ballydugan Lake to join the gorgeous shaded forest tracks of Hollymount Forest Park and the ancient Windmill Hill are the hidden gems of the County Down countryside often unseen. Perfect ground conditions on the day allowed riders and their horses to enjoy all four of their mounts paces if they wished. A gentle canter or a roaring gallop through the countryside were enjoyed by many.
St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride is not just for endurance riders, but also keen pleasure riders, who enjoy exploring the endless countryside on horseback. With two distances on offer for pleasure riders of 10 miles (16km) or 20 miles (32km), there was something on offer for everyone. For 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. A true testament to the fitness and dedication to the training of their horses by the keen endurance riders on the day.
Two riders deserve a special congratulations following the successful completion of their rides at St. Patrick’s Coast. Tasha Anderson, a seasoned endurance rider with ILDRA, successfully completed her first 80km Endurance Race on the very experienced endurance horse, ‘Just C’mall’. Martin McNamara and ‘Horseware Iguazu’ successfully passed their final 80km CTR ride to gain their Gold Shamrock Qualification, a much-coveted award and aspiration of many endurance riders. Congratulations go to both riders.
Many pleasure riders got an introduction to the sport of endurance riding through the option of taking part in a vetting in order to be eligible to win the Pleasure Ride trophy at St. Patrick’s Coast. Trophies and 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. Hopefully many 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, if you vet your horse, you might walk away with some fabulous prizes and a gorgeous trophy!
Thanks must go to the attending veterinary surgeons on the day, Quirine Tettelaar, MVetMed, MRCVS and Lucinda McNabney, MRCVS, who diligently checked all of the competitive and pleasure riders choosing to vet their horses throughout the day. They were certainly 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 attentive vet writers, who ably assisted the vets.
Joining St. Patrick’s Coast for the fifth year was the ever-welcome RDA. Several riders and RDA volunteers enjoyed riding along the racecourse, enjoying the rural views of the surrounding countryside and receiving lovely trophies for taking part in this ride. Congratulations go to all of the RDA riders taking part in the St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride.
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 kind help on 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 sponsor, Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant has generously provided a 25% money-off voucher for a meal-for-two as a thank you for all volunteers associated with St. Patrick’s Coast. The racecourse also kindly provided two free entry tickets to the next race day. If you know anyone who would kindly support this ride on the day by helping at road crossings, please contact the organising committee. You will be well fed throughout the day, with lunch and tasty home-baked goods of cakes and buns and you will be well thanked for your support and time.
A huge thank you must go to the sponsors of St. Patrick’s Coast, who have kindly supported this ride since its beginning five 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 in clearing the route for St. Patrick’s Coast. Judy Maxwell of Bailey’s Horse Feeds 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 Feeds 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 two free entry tickets for the next race day at Downpatrick for all stewards. Horse First have provided excellent prizes for the Endurance Race riders and have supported the event since its first year of existence, the committee thanks them for their continued support. 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. The organising committee also extends its thanks to a new sponsor for 2018, Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant, for kindly providing an evening buffet meal and a generous 25% money-off voucher for all of the stewards and volunteers helping with the ride.
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 sponsored 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, who allow the routes to go over their land and the volunteers involved with the St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance 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 seen in the ride office!
The winners of the prestigious Endurance Race competition were Helen McFarland on her 23-year-old horse ‘J St Jake’, who is in his 17th consecutive year of competing in the sport of endurance and is an expert in the sport. Closely following Helen was Tasha Anderson on ‘Just C’Mall’, who came second in the Endurance Race competition. Both riders received wonderful prizes from Horse First Supplements. 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, Performance Equestrian. The winner of the prize was Mary Thompson on ‘Horseware Fontana’, who successfully completed 64km (40 miles). Mary recently completed a 1* FEI 80km ride in Euston Park on ‘Horseware Fontana’ finishing 19th out of 160 starters. Congratulations go to Mary for all her recent endurance successes.
Congratulations go to Lorraine Sloan and her horse ‘Mr Manning’, who were the winners of the Helena Connolly Pleasure Ride trophy for ILDRA members. Lorraine and ‘Mr Manning’ previously completed numerous endurance rides in several countries and are extremely experienced in the sport of endurance riding. ‘Mr Manning’ was also the winner of the spot prize for the oldest horse taking part in St. Patrick’s Coast at 29 years of age, a true credit to Lorraine and her dedication and care of him. There is also a non-member Pleasure Ride trophy on offer at St. Patrick’s Coast and the 2018 Kilgarry Breeze trophy was won by Rachel Simons on her pony ‘Suzie’. A huge congratulations go to Rachel and ‘Suzie’, who completed the 20-mile route taking in the beautiful beaches of County Down. Several other spot prizes awarded including quickest successful presentation time for the final vetting, won by Martin McNamara on ‘Horseware Iguazu’ at four minutes to presentation, following their crossing of the finish line! The youngest rider taking part in St. Patrick’s Coast was Rachel Dominy on her horse ‘Stonehavens Gonzo’. The joint winners of the lowest final heart rate after trot-ups were Emma Hayes on ‘Yasser Arafat’ and Lynn Vinaccia on ‘Misty Blue’, both horses finished on 40bpm. All prize winners received a bag of Bailey’s endurance mix and a bale of Kingsfield haylage.
A huge thank you must go to the organising committee of St. Patrick’s Coast: David Cunningham and Helen McFarland, who are ably assisted by John Anderson, Neil Anderson, Kirsten, Kathy and Alastair Conly, who tirelessly dedicate numerous hours and days to clearing, marking and running the ride on the day. Thanks must also go to Kirsten Conly and Sharon Simons for running the ride office on the day and to Stevie Martin, Official Vet Steward and Sally Toye, Official Starter and Timekeeper. Without their work, this ride would simply not exist. The success of this ride is 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.stpatricks coastenduranceride.com for the date of next year’s ride, you’d be mad to miss out!
St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride
80km (50 miles): 1) Helen McFarland, J St Jake; 2) Tasha Anderson, Just C’mall.
80km (50 miles): Martin McNamara, Horseware Iguazu.
64km (40 miles): Mary Thompson, Horseware Fontana.
40km (25 miles): Karina McVeigh, Cheyenne.
32km (20 miles): Hannah Catterall, Ellanora; Jocelyn Willis, Sam; Roseanna Andrews, Arnie; Dermott MacGuinness, Shinook.
Top CTR Rider: Mary Thompson, Horseware Fontana.
Winner of the Helena Connolly Member Pleasure Ride Trophy: Lorraine Sloan, Mr Manning.
Winner of the Kilgarry Breeze Non-Member Pleasure Ride Trophy: Rachel Simons, Suzie.
Oldest Horse completing St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride: 29-year-old Mr Manning, owned by Lorraine Sloan.
Youngest Rider completing St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride: Rachel Dominy (11 years old) on Stonehavens Gonzo.
Lowest Final Heart Rate out of all vetted CTR and PR riders: Joint winners of Emma Hayes on Yasser Arafat and Lynn Vinaccia on Misty Blue, with both horses finishing on a heart rate of 40bpm following their final trot-ups.
Quickest Successful Presentation Time to Final Vet Check: Martin McNamara, Horseware Iguazu.