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Niamh’s Weblog had missed the Ballinalee Show for the past three years so it was high – time to pay a return visit this year to this major Connemara Pony Show situated right in the centre of Ireland. The Show was first established in 1982 when a group of local Ballinalee people met informally during the Dublin Horse Show and discussed the possibility of a Connemara Pony Show in their picturesque area of Co. Longford.
Ballinalee is located in a region of lakes and low hills or Drumlins formed by the flow of ice during the last Ice Age; a poet has called it “a place of sleepy vales and moors”. Year after year competitors of all ages return with their ponies to sample the friendly festive atmosphere of this verdant and secluded location. But this is no “sleepy” committee.
The Pony Show has grown each year and according to the hard-working Frances Foster –Show Secretary for 28 years – it has, in recent times, poured money into developing their Jumping and Working Hunter – type tracks into top class facilities to cater for the current ever–expanding number of Performance Connemara ponies countrywide. An undulating open field of eight acres is enough to hold all seventeen in-hand classes on an upper level from where you can have a birds-eye view of the on-going Ridden and Jumping classes comprising no less than ten events, all qualifiers for either Clifden, Oughterard or The Parks, Moycullen.
Supreme In- Hand. Throughout the day judges Sylvaine Galligan and Mick McMenamon had weathered all that nature threw down on Ring 1, eventually judging the final Championship through a spectacular thunder storm with lightning flashing in the dark clouds. No less spectacular was the hotly contested Final and it was a fine sight to behold as the two finalists showed their paces in the Supreme Championship Final.
The chosen 2014 Supreme had trotted this ring beside her dam when the lovely Banks Vanilla took the Supreme honours in 2010. Now it was the equally beautiful daughter’s turn and Sean Dunne’s 4yr old home-bred Garryhinch Vanilla, who is by Monaghanstown Boy, followed in her dam’s ‘hoofprints’ to wear the 2014 Supreme Championship Sash and accept the Blacksmith Trophy. Garryhinch Vanilla had also won the Mare Class for 4-5 yr. old and qualified for the Midland All Ireland Brood Mare Championship.
Joe Burke, was the Reserve Champion Trophy winner with his new acquisition, the dashing mover, Drumbad Fletcher Moss by Hazy Match X Robe Grey Abbey, Champion Stallion Class winner earlier in the day, and Champion at Westport Show a week earlier. Although he was successfully shown three times as a 3yr old, he is a relative newcomer to Shows. Fletcher Moss is no youngster, having reached the age of 10 years in the ownership of breeder Jim Ferguson in Fermanagh, where, since registration, he happily spent the summers in the field with mares. This lifestyle has, according to Joe, left him with a “placid and level-headed” approach to life. Eamonn Burke, Joe’s father, who had wanted to buy him as a 3yr old colt but had to wait another 7 years before Jim Ferguson relented. Drumbad Fletcher Moss has 35 registered progeny and with the Burke’s since they purchased him in Jan. last, a similar number of mares covered this season.
The Judges found their two best young stock for the Junior Championship in both the 2yr old Colt Class and the 3yr old equivalent. The Junior Champion came from the class for 3 and 4 year old stallions. There were 3 duns and a bay in this class of 5 and the duns took the first three places. Top of the line was Pat Boyle’s 3yr old Fairytale by Moonlight Silver Shadow X Aughaveen Aine, an attractive deep dun with a strong- boned conformation. Senior Stallion Winner and Stallion Champion was Drumbad Fletcher Moss with Joe Burke. (pic above left).
Patrick Kearns’ Slievebloom Buster, a 2yr old colt son of last year’s Show Supreme Brocklodge Buster, had won his 2yr old Colt Class and was awarded Reserve Junior Championship.
Gneevebrack Mist by Monaghanstown Barney won the Filly Foal Class. The bay foal which was awarded the Scanlon Cup is owned by Mullingar’s Eddie Fleming, and is out of his prizewinning mare Gneevebrack Belle.
Co. Offaly’s Sean Cooney is the owner of the Colt foal winner, Loughmore Barney by Fredericksminde Hazy Match X Bearna Rua Star, and this combination won the Foal Championship and the Newgrange Perpetual trophy.
Other 1st prize-winners pictured below were
1. Connemara Mare + Foal, Eddie Fleming’s Gneevebrack Belle by Laerkens Cascade Dawn X Grey Rock Mist. This Mare also won the Mare 10 yr. and over Class and qualified for Midland Breeders all-Ireland Brood Mare championships.
2. Mare 6-9 yrs old. Jarlath and Joanne Grogan’s Hillside Rose by Laerkens Cascade Dawn X Mountain Lady. Also Qualified for Midland Breeders brood Mare Championship.
3. Jarlath and Joanne Grogan’s Yearling Colt winner, Hillside Dancer by Laerkens Cascade Dawn X Mountain Lady.
4.Yearling Filly winner Fermanagh’s Jim McConnell’s Ballylickey Princess April by Robe Thunder X Rickamore Ballylikey Princess,
. PS. If your pony was an In-Hand winner at the Show, please email a photo and it will be included. Click Here for Performance Classes
All pics. except 1982 photo, Copyright Niamh’s Weblog.