“YOU could get 50 entries in each class, or more”, “This is my favourite part of Balmoral” and “The Connemara people have made my day with their smiles and beautiful ponies”. These were just three of the comments made during the Connemara pony classes at this year’s 152nd Ulster Bank Balmoral Show.
Again, demand outstripped supply for exhibitors wanting to enter. The online booking system nearly crashed when entries opened. Owners were hovering over their ‘enter key’ in the minutes leading up to that moment – 105 of them were successful. It is testament to these wonderful ponies and their popularity that the above comments are forthcoming year after year. Although a little colder than the May show might have been, it was a lovely September day for judging and, as usual, events commenced right on the stroke of 8.30am. The last award was made at 6.00pm, bringing another day of fantastic competition to an end. Thanks are extended once again to the hard-working committee and long-time sponsors of the section, North Down Marquees. Managing Director, Alastair McIlveen, who is building on his knowledge of the equestrian world each year, and Senior Project Manager, Margaret McNair-Robinson represented the company this year.
The judges for the day in both the ridden and Working Hunter competitions were Philip Scott and Mairead Ryan. They declared that they had the most wonderful day. Organisers truly appreciated the professionalism, feedback and time that they took whilst carrying out their assessments.
Alongside the continuing donations of beautiful rugs and sashes from the Longstone and Derryronane Studs, organisers were delighted to bring on board the Narrow Water Stud and Equestrian Centre near Warrenpoint, who kindly provided the winners of Classes 75 and 76 with cosy fleece rugs. Lillian Clements was welcomed into the arena to present this prize on behalf of the Stud. A surprise donation from Mr Robbie and Mrs Barbara Fallon of Cashel Bay Stud of a rug and sash for the winner of the Young Rider class was much appreciated.
The jumping section was, as usual, exciting and produced 50% and 40% clear rounds in each class respectively. The course builder, Adrienne Stuart from Gransha Equestrian Centre, included her normal quota of technical questions in her inviting and twisting course, and organisers remain indebted to her and her team for their efforts.
Unfortunately, the Clifden High Performance qualifier class was not included in the schedule this year, since the Clifden Show was being held before Balmoral Show. However, it is hoped that this spectacle will return for the 2022 Show. As it is only seven months until Balmoral 2022, there is a lot of hard work going on in the background to ensure that the Connemara ponies continue to receive the exposure they deserve, and organisers are constantly striving to introduce new classes to showcase this much-admired Native pony. One final note of thanks must go to the outgoing horse Chief Steward Duke McCartney for his unwavering support for the classes during his tenure. The Connemara people wish him well in his future endeavours.
Balmoral Show – Connemara classes
Class 72 – Registered Connemara Pony mare, three years and upwards with or without foal: 1) Grace Maxwell Murphy, Glencarrig Princess Ella (Henderson and Graham Perpetual Challenge Trophy); 2) Alison Dugan, Miss Hillary; 3) Michael James Harty, Cashelbay Kate.
Class 73 – Filly foal at foot: No 587 filly foal, owned by Michael James Harty and Champion (Hinchliffe Perpetual Challenge Trophy).
Class 74 – Colt foal at foot: No entries.
Ridden Class 75 – Registered Ridden Connemara pony, mare or gelding four and five years old, suitable for and to be ridden by riders who have attained their 12th birthday on 1st January in the current year: 1) Moya Teeling, Shanbo Myles (Robson Perpetual Challenge Trophy and rug from the Narrow Water Stud and Equestrian Centre); 2) Carnakilly Connemaras, Carnakilly Fire Fox; 3) Grace Maxwell Murphy, Glencarrig Princess Ella.
Ridden Class 76 – Registered Ridden Connemara pony, mare or gelding six years old or over, suitable for and to be ridden by riders 10 years old and over on 1st January in the current year: 1) Stephen Finn, Addrigoole Andre (R J Monteith Perpetual Challenge Trophy and rug from the Narrow Water Stud and Equestrian Centre); 2) Emily Magowan, Tullaree Fear Bui; 3) Aoife O’Connor, Ballylee Castle Prince.
Ridden Class 77 – Registered Ridden Connemara pony, mare or gelding four years old or over, suitable for and to be ridden by riders who have attained their 10th birthday but not their 16th on 1st January in the current year: 1) Mary McDonnell, Follis Princess (Cashel Bay Stud Perpetual Challenge Trophy and rug and sash); 2) Albert Flannagan, Rockislands Dara Og; 3) Yvonne Duggan, Blackwoodland Breeze.
Champion Ridden Connemara: Stephen Finn, Addrigoole Andre (Longstone Stud sash); Reserve Champion Ridden Connemara: Emily Magowan, Tullaree Fear Bui (Longstone Stud sash).
Working Hunter Class 78 – Registered Connemara pony, mare or gelding four years or over, suitable for and to be ridden by riders who have attained their 10th birthday but not their 16th birthday on 1st January in the current year: 1) Marjorie Hardiman, Creganna Belle (Derryronane Stud rug); 2) Jennifer Irvine, Corha Delight; 3) Jason McPolin, Magic Rhythm.
Working Hunter Class 79 – Registered Connemara pony, mare or gelding four years or over, suitable for and to be ridden by riders who have attained their 16th birthday on 1st January in the current year: 1) Emily McGowan, Tullaree Fear Bui (Derryronane Stud rug); 2) Jason McPolin, Glenmore Miss Mirah; 3) Claire Devlin, Blackwood Fernando.
Champion Working Hunter: Emily McGowan, Tullaree Fear Bui (Longstone Stud sash and NICPA Perpetual Challenge Trophy); Reserve Champion Working Hunter: Jason McPolin, Glenmore Miss Mirah (Longstone Stud sash).