WHILE it appeared that two-thirds of the Northern Ireland population was at Badminton, the other third was at Hazeldene either as athletes, volunteers or spectators at the latest Northern Region event.
Once again, Andrew Napier pulled out all stops to provide four exceptional courses, which were beautifully decorated by Marian Turley and David O’Connor.
It was a ‘team’ effort in the broadest sense, with Laura dealing with all the administration; while Andrew’s father, Nigel, co-ordinated a team of car parkers; sister, Lynsey, was fence judging; while Laura’s mother, Marian, was responsible for the hospitality, as well as floral dressings. In addition, many of the Hazeldene liveries were on hand to help with a wide range of duties.
Lucca Stubington came out on top in a field of four in the EI 110 Open class on ‘Kiltown Watson’, a nine-year-old gelding by ‘Carrick Diamond Lad’, owned by Gillian Harris, who was busy all day doing show jumping Call Up Steward. They led from the outset, adding just 3.2 time penalties to their first phase score, which gave them a 3.1 margin over second placed Steven Smith on last week’s EI 110 winner, ‘Lavori’, owned by Tessa Westbrook.
While Lisa and Barbara Rosbotham were at Badminton cheering on their horse, ‘Jewelent’, ridden by
by Clare Abbott, Rachael Thompson was at Hazeldene competing Lisa’s seven-year-old ‘Valent’ gelding, ‘Govalent’, in the EI 100 class, where she stormed to victory, having been awarded top dressage marks by Angeline Nicholson. Steven Smith took second place on Carol Moorhead’s eight-year-old ‘OBOS Quality’ gelding, ‘MMF Churchill’, finishing on their first phase score.
16-year-old Sorcha Hanly made the trip from Letterkenny worthwhile by claiming the back to back victories in the EI 110 J class on board Sharon Friel’s Connemara bred gelding, ‘My Seafield Romeo’. They had a very comfortable margin over second placed Anna White on her mother’s ‘Contador’ mare, ‘Kilcoltrim Dora’.
Once again, Christina Turley took centre stage in the EI 100 Amateur class with ‘Ann’s Bob’. They, along with Nichola Wray and ‘Springhill Showman’, were the only combinations to keep a clean cross-country jumping record.
Just three riders contested the EI 100 class, where Newcastle girl, Alex O’Hare, made it four wins in a row with her mother’s grey mare, ‘Greylands Diamond Girl’. They finished over 11 points clear of Katie Robinson and ‘Duncarbery Casscade’, who have had a top two finish on four of the last five outings.
17-year-old Ralph Robinson from Comber had plenty to celebrate, as he took the win in the EI 100 J class with his mother’s 10-year-old ‘Puissance’ gelding, ‘Lanigan O’, a reference to the breeder, Stephen Lanigan-O’Keefe. They finished on exactly the same score of 37 as Rachael Broome with her lovely Thoroughbred mare, ‘Nature’s Blossom’, which has been consistently in the top placings this season. On this occasion, Ralph, who is currently with Smith Brothers and planning to start a Level 3 BHS Apprenticeship in the Equine Industry in September, finished closer to the optimum time to take the red rosette.
There was further success for the Gilford yard when Casey Webb added two rosettes to her collection, with a first and second in the EI 100 class. She took the win on ‘Hiya Sonny’, Patricia Duffin’s six-year-old gelding by the Thoroughbred stallion, ‘Winged Love’. This was just his second outing this year and he finished with a one point advantage over David Mitchell’s six-year-old mare, ‘Our Pollyanna’, who also completed on her first phase mark.
Ciarrai Rice from Castlewellan, who is currently in her final year with Donard Veterinary Clinic, training to be a Veterinary Nurse, took top honours in the EI 90 Amateur class with her six-year-old ‘Hallo Picasso’ mare, ‘Lady J’. Ciarrai bought her as a two-year-old from a field in Roscommon and broke her and produced her with eventing in mind. She credits the mare’s dressage fluency to Denise Kelly-Rice with whom she has been training. Ciarrai attended the Baileys Horse Feeds Flexi Series, as well as a number of other unaffiliated shows as part of ‘Lady J’s’ education. This was just their third outing under EI rules and she was delighted with her red rosette. Organisers look forward to following their progress in the months and years ahead.
Kirstin Thom, who was making her first appearance since the National Championships, took the runner up spot with her Holsteiner bred gelding, ‘Slemish Rio Grande’.
The biggest class of the day was the EI 90 with 26 starters. David O’Connor rose to the fore with his five-year-old homebred mare, ‘Tullymurry Katie’, who has built up a very impressive set of results for her five outings. Victoria Clarke came in nine points behind with her five-year-old Dutch bred gelding, ‘Fun Time Frankie’.
Emma Stewart was the only one of the four starters in the EI 90 P class to finish on her dressage score with the Connemara Pony, ‘Beezies Minty’. Charlotte Betts maintained her second position after dressage to complete just over two points behind on ‘Akaroa Bittersweet’. These are impressive results for these young pony riders just starting off in the sport.
Once again, Northern Region ran an EI 80 Training class, which was very well subscribed with 25 entries. Susan Cummiskey took centre stage with her nine-year-old mare, ‘Bonmahon Snow Leopard’, keeping both jumping phases clean to accrue almost four points advantage over second placed Emily Corbett and ‘Stevie Wonder’, who was making his debut under Eventing Ireland rules.
Northern Region is deeply indebted to the Napier Family for hosting another fabulous event and wish Hazel a very speedy and full recovery following her recent hospitalisation.
Thanks, too, to all the many volunteers who came from all parts of the Province to allow the event to proceed. Organisers are deeply grateful to all of you.
Next week, Northern Region moves to the fabulous venue of Glenpatrick, courtesy of Britt and Anne Megahey.
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