EAST Donegal branch of the Irish Pony Club (IPC) sent a small but capable squad of riders to the IPC Festival in Barnadown, Wexford. The long run was a very worthwhile one, as not only were the riders on the podium in more than one class, but great friendships were forged with the members attending from the Clew Bay branch of the Pony Club, with whom Eabha Brennan joined forces to form a Robbie Bailey show jumping team. Eabha’s older sister Tara rode a superb dressage test and excellent jumping round to place third in the Open Combined Training, while Ellie Simms went one better in the Senior Individual show jumping and brought the blue ribbon home to Donegal.
Anybody who doubts the importance of the pony competitors needs to check out the junior international teams… Ireland’s next generation of equestrian athletes made history last weekend at the FEI European Championships for ponies (U16) in Strzegom, Poland, winning the Eventing team gold medal and an individual silver, while in Show Jumping Ireland filled all three spots on the podium in the individual final after a phenomenal display – to add to the team gold medal they won.
The Brennan sisters didn’t rest on their laurels for long, heading to the final of the TRI Summer Tour the next weekend. Here Éabha and the great pony, ‘Scully’, pulled off another two super rounds to take the podium twice after being placed second overall in the both the 138 pony 80cm and 90cm classes, with just a fraction of a second between her and the first place winner. Her placing has qualified her to compete as part of the Ulster Team at the Inter-provincial Championships next month. Tara took centre stage on the podium at the TRI Summer Tour, having placed first overall in the Junior Rider 1.10/ 1.20m class, her place on the Ulster Team guaranteed for the Inter-provincial Championship. The top 10 riders in each class qualify for the Ulster team for the Inter-provincial Championships and both Clodagh Callaghan from Burt and Alannah Doherty from Carndonagh also qualified in the 80cm and 90cm. Alannah Doherty came first in the 138 80cm and third in the 138 90cm, while Clodagh came seventh and eighth in those same classes. Tara Arbuckle from Burt came sixth and 10th, while Sara Margey finished fifth in 128 1m, so no matter what part of Donegal you’re from, you can find a local to cheer on!
The ‘big kids’ in riding club also enjoyed an opportunity to compete at the prestigious Wexford venue as the AIRC Dressage Championships were held there. With a minor clerical error ruling the Donegal Gaeltacht team out of the team championship, it was up to the ladies from Stracomer Riding Club to carry the green and gold flags in the southern venue. Despite some excellent scores on the day, the team settled for a weekend of fun and memories to bank rather than rosettes and silverware to store.
Sunday, August 14 sees the clubs from the county congregate on the golden sands of Ballyness Bay, Falcarragh, to take part in the Donegal Gaeltacht’s Lawrence Smyth Memorial show. With the weather forecast looking exceptionally good, the day should prove to be a great outing for both competitors and spectators.
Local racing men, and women, made a pilgrimage to Dingle for the historic Dingle Race Meeting. Their journey makes a drive to Wexford look like a run to the shops, but as usual, the Donegal contingent made their presence felt, with winners galore. The old stalwart horse, ‘Way Up North’, added yet more wins to his illustrious career, winning twice under capable rides from Liscarroll’s Dylan O’Conor.
Two Donegal lads making their Dingle debuts were Jamie O’Brien and Patrick McGettigan, both from Barrack, Ramelton, an area with a long history of producing winning horses and the jockeys to pilot them.
On the bigger tracks of the ‘under-rules’ racing, the Donegal riders have also been racking up the winners, from Conor Orr’s spectacular win aboard the Lorna Fowler trained mare, ‘Politesse’, at the Galway festival, through Dylan Browne McMonagle’s successes at the Curragh and Leopardstown, Oisin Orr’s victories at Royal Ascot, Nottingham and Redcar, to Brandon Wilkie’s triumph at Ripon, these young men are doing Donegal proud and deserve the backing of the county!
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.