ONCE again, it was a case of wall to wall sunshine when the Northern Region met at the very pristine venue of Tullylish (Gilford) for their latest event.
The unprecedented long spell of very hot weather had created additional challenges for the hosts, Jim and Bronagh Stevenson, as well as the resident Course Designer, Adam Stevenson. However, as always, they rose to those challenges by aerovating and watering the well-grassed terrain. Adam’s three courses posed a number of questions across the board, but all rode really well with limited faults.
Aaron McCusker’s show jumping tracks were contained in the beautiful walled garden, where riders had the privilege of experiencing undulating ground and mature trees.
As in the previous week at Tullymurry, provisions were made for a supply of fresh running water to be available just after the finish to ensure that the horses were able to be washed down and cooled off. The vet on duty, Inge D’Haese, reported that all equines finished well despite the heat and there were no reports from the Paramedics that the humans were any different!
There were jubilations all round at Maddybenny when Tegan White-McMorrow brought home the bacon in the four starter EI 110 Open class. Tullylish was Tegan’s first outing under Eventing rules since the birth of her baby, Alfie, and the sudden passing of her father, Philip and she certainly made it one to remember. Partnering three horses on the day, she claimed a first, second and fourth placing, which is no mean feat on any account but, particularly, impressive given the emotions and the hot conditions.
She won on ‘Texan Style’, a 16-year-old skewbald gelding bred by her late father on whom she competed at multi Internationals including Boekelo back in 2016. She led from the outset, adding just a few cross-country time penalties to her first phase mark to finish almost five points clear of Steven Smith on Virginia Maguire’s home-bred gelding, ‘Handsome Starr’.
The top prize in the EI 110 class also went to the North Coast in the hands of Gemma Goodrich riding Carole Young’s ‘Lisnamuck What A Cracker’, a nine-year-old gelding by ‘Cheeky Bobby Sparrow’, out of the Irish Thoroughbred mare, ‘Meancog’. This was the gelding’s first victory, so the celebrations were aplenty in the Young household.
Again, this combination kept both jumping phases clear to finish 2.5 points ahead of second placed Anita Doherty and ‘Threeseas’, a 10-year-old ‘Ars Vivendi’ mare, owned by Samantha Dale, which has shown consistent good form since its initiation into eventing just 10 months ago.
Although there were just two combinations passing through the start box in the EI 110 Amateur class, neither rested on their laurels and both gained a sub-30 dressage score. Despite a lowered coloured pole, Denis Currie and ‘Arodstown Aramis’ claimed the red rosette with almost a 10-point margin over Symone Brown and ‘Merlot’, who picked up significant time penalties across the country.
It was a case of back to back victories for Claire Liddle from Newtownards with her 11-year-old chestnut mare, ‘Ballytrim Molly’ in the EI 100 Amateur class. They moved up two places from dressage following four show jumping penalties for the early leader, Jayne Moore and ‘Laylas Way’, who had to settle for the runner up spot.
Meantime, in the EI 100 Junior section, it was a one-two for Bessbrook’s Sarah O’Shea. She took the win with ‘The Cherokee Flight’, followed by ‘Youngstars Cheetah’ in second.
It was a successful day for the Connemara ponies in the EI 100 P class. A delighted 14-year-old Oleana Cowan from Wicklow made her long journey to the Co. Armagh venue worthwhile by taking centre stage with her mother’s lovely seven-year-old Connemara pony, ‘Ballylee Roller’. They had simply a one-point margin over Erin Mathieson riding her mother’s Connemara pony, ‘Longwood Dawn’, which enjoyed a win on its previous outing at Tullymurry 1.
Steven Smith was certainly very consistent in the main EI 100 class, where he had two entries. He finished on exactly the same score with both, which was their flatwork mark of 23.5, so the placings were determined by proximity to the optimum time. Taking first place was ‘Lavori’, a five-year-old gelding owned by Tessa Westbrook and sired by ‘I’m Special de Muze’, who made his first appearance at Maddybenny back in May. Second place went to ‘King-Paola’, a six-year-old gelding by ‘Starpower’, owned by Susan O’Shea, who won last week at Tullymurry 2.
12 combinations went under starters’ orders in the EI 90 Amateur class, where a delighted Aoife Hanratty from Dunleer, Co. Louth, claimed her first victory with ‘Newtowns Silver Bobby’ and made up for her disappointment at being eliminated on her previous outing. An equally delighted Nichola Wray picked up second place with her five-year-old gelding, ‘Springhill Showman’, which is definitely building up an impressive record, having been in the top six on all of its last five outings. Nichola has also built up an incredible record with the Northern Region officials by supplying the products of her amazing culinary skills on a weekly basis – a huge thank you, Nichola!
While Britt and Anne Megahey were visiting their sons in Belgium, followed by a holiday in Greece, Britt’s trusted steed, ‘Lowhill Nice Surprise’, was being successfully campaigned in the EI 90 by his Yard Manager, Magdalena Oleszek. Originally from Poland, Mags has proved herself indispensable at Glenpatrick. She is a true equestrian and animal lover. She, and her young daughter, Olivia, have two German Shepherds and a Yorkshire Terrier and she also enjoys hill walking.
Mags added nothing to her super first phase mark of 24.8 to give this ‘Carrick Diamond Lad’ bred gelding its first eventing win.
Second place went to Tegan White-McMorrow riding ‘Carrabeg Liberty’, her six-year-old gelding by ‘Clonakilty Hero’ on just its third outing under eventing rules.
The winner of the EI 90 P class was 14-year-old Sam Hamilton from Downpatrick, who was making his second appearance with ‘Cahanagh Black Flyer’, his mother’s grey gelding by ‘Westside Mirah’, out of ‘Cahanagh Star’. Unfortunately, the only other starter in the class, Ruby Kinkaid, who was the early leader, was eliminated for missing a fence.
The Northern Region is deeply indebted to Jim and Bronagh Stevenson for hosting the event and, along with Adam, went the extra mile to ensure that the additional measures were put in place to contend with the challenges of the recent extended period of hot weather. This included the very refreshing chilled fruit salad at the end.
Thanks also to all the volunteers, who did sterling work in hot conditions.
Next week, the Northern Region looks forward to making its inaugural visit to Hazeldene, Ballynahinch, courtesy of Andrew and Laura Napier.