Competition was never keener” – the view of Lisburn exhibitor Roy Ervine at last week’s Dublin Horse Show, and an opinion which mirrored those of hundreds of Ulster visitors at Ballsbridge.
But despite the record 1,907 entries – 262 more than last year, and the largest since the show was first held in 1864 – Northern competitors and their animals were in no way overawed.
As one Ulster exhibitor in the hunter section put it: “It is always quite a feat to take a rosette from Dublin, and this year was no exception.
“It speaks highly for the standard of our bloodstock that Northern Ireland competitors, comprising only a comparatively small percentage of the total entry, have again been able to bring so many awards across the border.”
Many of the Ulster contingent stayed at Ballsbridge for the entire show week, and some, like Lisburn schoolgirl Angela Humphreys, of Milltown Road, Pondpark, seized the opportunity to “limber up” for Dublin at Finglas Show, on the outskirts of the city where she collected several rosettes, including the show’s pony championship prize.
Angela and her 17-year-old pony Jet Black are a well-known partnership at shows all over Ireland. Last year they won the Irish pony jumping championship and £100 prize in County Mayo, and last week began their bid for top honours at Dublin by taking a second and third place rosette in two of the early competitions.
The third place award was particularly praiseworthy as it came in a jumping event primarily for horses, and in which only a few ponies managed to get round the complete course.
Angela believes that Jet Black is one of the oldest ponies still to be competing in – and winning – top class competitions, and “he is still going as strong as ever!”
Twelve-year-old Ian Buchanan made his debut as a competitor at Dublin Horse Show in Saturday – but only just.
On Tuesday, Ian was involved in an accident when he was kicked by a loose horse. He was taken to a local hospital where, although it was found that no bones were broken, his foot was bruised and had to be heavily bandaged.
Said Alan, who lives at Ballylesson, Belfast: “At first I was terribly disappointed because I thought I might not be able to compete. But luckily the injury is not as bad as was first thought.”