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Working Hunter League gets underway at Hagans Croft

SATURDAY, October 9 saw the first week of Hagans Croft’s five-week Working Hunter league get underway. There was a wet start to the morning, however, this did not dampen spirts as the horses arrived to take on the first class of the day 60cm. Both competitors in this class travelled the distance to compete at Hagans Croft – Tara Murphy from Dublin and Sarah Richardson from Co. Louth – so they both definitely wanted to give it their all across the course of rustic fences! Both competitors completed the course clear, with all poles intact, therefore it was down to their set show, tack and turnout and conformation. This time it was first for Tara and ‘Shanbally Deja Vu’ and second for Sarah and ‘Cloondarone Silver’. Tara also went on to place first in the 70cm class, followed by Jessica House and ‘Khalasar’ in second place.

The 80cm Working Hunter horse was next on the schedule, with not many points separating the top three competitors, however it was Kate Russell and her gelding ‘Bingo’ who stormed into first place, followed by Megan Houston and new new mount ‘Western Ocala’ in second place. What a great start to this new partnership!

There were only two entries for the 80cm Cob class, however, what stunning cobs they were! Victoria Thompson and ‘Derrylough Bay Bandit’ hunted their way round the course to finish in first place, with Judith Auten and ‘Kevin’ in second place.

As the course was adjusted for the 85cm Small Hunter class, competitors were familarising themselves with the set show that was asked of riders on the day. Samantha Ross and Carrie Townsend were the only two competitors to finish their jumping phase clear, so it was down to their ridden show marks. Samantha Ross and her mount ‘Jo-Jo’ just pipped Carrie Townsend and ‘Carrickbracken Delfunk’ to the top spot by gaining slightly better marks in their manners and performance, therefore taking home the red rosette with blue for Carrie and ‘Carrickbracken Delfunk’. Nevertheless, both competitors were now eligible for the Championship show.

As there were no entries for the 1m class, the 90cm class was the last of the horse classes. With all three competitors going clear in their jumping phase and all three sitting on 57/60 at the half way point, it was down to the wire in the ridden show phase. Finishing up, only one point separated all three competitors and first went to Samantha O’Sullivan on ‘Redpark Clover’, second to Aimee McKeown on ‘Russell’ and third to Megan Houston on ‘Western Ocala’.

Judge Julie Donaghy Simpson had a few hard decisions to make in the Horse Championship show. With a total of 10 horses entering the main arena, it was down to each horse and rider’s manners and performance, tack and turnout, conformation and movement and, finally, who stood out in their gallop!

On the day, it was Champion Horse for Tara Murphy and ‘Shanbally Deja Vu’ and Reserve Champion for Victoria Thompson and ‘Derrylough Bay Bandit’. Both competitors were delighted to receive their beautiful championship rosettes, celebrating with a lap of honour! Well done!

The afternoon session saw the Working Hunter ponies descend on Hagans Croft to take on the challenging course of working hunter fences. Ellie Murphy and ‘Waitwith Dynasty’ started off the afternoon session by bagging a red ribbon in the 60cm class, followed by her sister Lily Murphy bagging the red ribbon in the 70cm class riding ‘Milford Spectucular’. Ted Geary and ‘Tableybrook Henry’ came home with the blue rosette in the 70cm class. What a great day out for these three friends!

Katie Annett and ‘Newtown Melody’ were the only clear in the 80cm class and were sure to be in first place. Katie and ‘Newtown Melody’ achieved another red ribbon in the 90cm class, finishing on a top score of 93/100. Kara Cosgrove came home with the blue ribbon in the 90cm class with her mare ‘Beechill Sue’.

Heading into the Pony Championship, a total of five competitors proceeded to enter the main arena. All ponies behaved impeccably, with riders circling into the centre to ensure they were getting the space to show off their ponies’ ridden show abilities to the highest degree. Judge Julie Donaghy Simpson was very impressed with everyone’s capabilities and knowledge of the show ring, with two competitors particularly standing out and worthy of the championship rosettes. Champion Pony on the day went to Lily Murphy and ‘Milford Spectacular’ with Reserve Pony Champion to Katie Annett and ‘Newtown Melody’.

Thank you to everyone who supported the first leg of this five-week league, Hagans Croft hopes to see everyone again next week. Thanks are extended to judge Julie Donaghy Simpson, scribes and stewards, who make the event run so smoothly. The league continues until Saturday, November 13 – this event is pre-entry only, with entries closing each Thursday at 8pm prior to Saturday’s event. Times are posted online late on Thursday evening.

To qualify for the final in week five, each horse/ pony and rider combination must compete in three out of the five weeks and within the same Working Hunter class. Competitors must be present at the final to be eligible for league placings. Scoring is based on a points system and details of league scores can be found on Hagans Croft’s website or facebook page. Rosettes are awarded to the first six placings each week and within the overall league placings. Everyone is welcome to compete at the final on November 13, with a separate prize giving held for those competing on the day and those competing within the league. This league is very kindly sponsored by Comfort Gut.

All photography is available to purchase from Black Horse Photography NI.

Entries are taken via Hagans Croft’s website: or download the Hagans Croft App.


Saturday, October 9


Champion Working Hunter Horse: Tara Murphy, Shanbally Déjà Vu; Reserve: Victoria Thompson, Derrylough Bay Bandit.

Class 1 – 60cm Working Hunter Horse & Four-year-old Working Hunter Horse NIF: 1) Tara Murphy, Shanbally Déjà Vu; 2) Sarah Richardson, Cloondarone Silver.

Class 2 – 70cm Working Hunter Horse: 1) Tara Murphy, Shanbally Déjà Vu; 2) Jessica House, Khalasar; 3) Sarah Richardson, Cloondarone Silver.

Class 3 – 80cm Working Hunter Horse: 1) Kate Russell, Bingo; 2) Megan Houston, Western Ocala; 3) Samantha O’Sullivan, Redpark Clover; 4) Cathy Campbell, Daring Do; 5) Hannah Younger, Romeo.

Class 4 – 80cm Working Cob: 1) Victoria Thompson, Derrylough Bay Bandit; 2) Judith Auten, Kevin.

Class 5 – 85cm Small Working Hunter Horse (not exceeding 158cm) NIF: 1) Samantha Ross, Jo-Jo; 2) Carrie Townsend, Carrickbracken Delfunk.

Class 6 – 90cm Working Hunter Horse NIF: 1) Samantha O’Sullivan, Redpark Clover; 2) Aimee McKeown, Russell; 3) Megan Houston, Western Ocala.


Champion Working Hunter Pony: Lily Murphy, Milford Spectacular; Reserve: Katie Annette, Newtown Melody.

Class 9 – 60cm Working Hunter Pony NIF Starter Stakes & M&M: 1) Ellie Murphy, Waitwith Dynasty.

Class 10 – 70cm Working Hunter Pony NIF Starter Stakes & M&M: 1) Lily Murphy, Milford Spectacular; 2) Ted Geary, Tableybrook Henry.

Class 11 – 80cm Working Hunter Pony NIF 133cm also M&M: 1) Katie Annett, Newtown Melody.

Class 12 – 90cm Working Hunter Pony NIF 143cm also M&M: 1) Katie Annette, Newtown Melody; 2) Kara Cosgrove, Beechill Sue.

Bree Rutledge

If you would like to find out more about Horse Week, Bree Rutledge can be contacted by email: or or by telephone: +44 (0) 28 9033 4493.




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