As gale force winds sheeted across the green fields of Athenry on Sunday last, young ponies in the Mart Showgrounds skittered and pranced their way around the Connemara Ring. Heavy showers, flying hats and odd items of wind-blown debris added to the wind commotion and excited the ponies still more while experienced pony handlers remained calm and unruffled throughout. So too did the Show committee – they who pray for 364 days for a fine Show Day and then must shrug philosophically when the heavens hurl the worst upon them. I know I shouldn’t go on about the weather all the time, but the success of an Agricultural Show or Horse Show in Ireland depends so totally on weather. So much time and effort goes into the planning and preparation of these events, and then all can be ‘Kaput’ when the weather turns sour on the day! Not so at Athenry as the crowds rolled in during the afternoon as always. Entries in on the whole were guite good considering the adverse circumstances, and the majority of Connemara Pony classes- when you include late entries – were well supported.
Judges Padraig Heanue and Joe McNamara did a thorough job and choose Ballyconneely man Rory Sweeney’s (Heather Aisling (Currachmore Cashel X Heather Star) as their Yearling Filly winner, a prize she had also taken at Galway Show two weeks previously. The yearling Colt Class which followed produced one entry only , lonely as the famous Fields. Eddie Fleming had travelled his Gneevebrack Fionn by (Monaghanstown Fionn X Fneevebrack Belle) the longish journey from Mullingar and must have been disappointed to have no competition in the ring. The blog unfortunately got no picture either (camera problems later led to an early exit from the Show)
However we were lucky enough to snap Shanna Rose, daughter of Champions (Janus X Gleann Rua Sea Mist) who was placed top of the line in a strong 2 yr. old Filly Class. Her owner and breeder Seamus Keady was later awarded the Reserve Junior Championship. As Seamus had taken home the Junior Championship for Shanna Rose at Roundfort two weeks earlier, their homeplace Spiddal should be proud of this lovely filly.
The 2yr. old Colt or Gelding Class had some good quality on display but from eight ponies present, the Judges voted unanimously in favour of Stephen Fahy’s Benbaun Cracker who is by True Commotion. (Laerkens Cascade Dawn). Cracker is out of Ben Baun Glen Sally and was purchased by Stephen from Ann O’Brien as a yearling. The Fahy family, especiallydaughter Elaine, are very pleased with him as this was only his second Show and was his second win this season.
The 3yr old filly class displayed one quality pony after another, many were winners from ’09 and the top spot was awarded to Caillin Conneely’s Glencarrig Rose Marie (Glencarrig Prince X April Rose). Her owner being away, the filly’s floating movement was expertly shown-off by his sister Martina who told me that their father Michael Conneely of Letterdyfe (near Ballyconneely) had bred the dam, April Rose, who was later sold on to the Currans of Moycullen who put her in foal to their prize stallion. The Conneely family eventually bought back the resulting foal Rose Marie- and Martina vows they will not be selling this one. Having won at Clifden as a two yr. old in ’09 she continued her winning streak at Boswell’s June Connemara Show in Wicklow where she was awarded the Supreme Championship. In Athenry Glencarrig Rose Marie was awarded the Junior Championship and later the Reserve Supreme of the Show as runner-up to Padraig Hynes’ Champion Curragh Court Lady (Clonberne Boy X Clydagh Marie) This 6yr. old mare was Reserve Champion at Westport Show and you can see her photo on The Westport Show page in this Blog.
Ballyconneely ponies appeared in every Class and a great Show supporter from the area was Damian Gorham who was well placed in each of the young-stock classes, standing a close 2nd to the 3yr. old filly winner with Doonhill Queen (Currachmore Cashel X Connemara Lady) the Galway Junior Champion. More pictures below.