After the kind weather to which the Clifdon crowd had become accustomed on both Wed and Thurs. it was a shock when a mini hurricane swept over Connemara on Thursday night and the early Working Hunter Classes on Friday had wind and sweeping rain to contend with. The river-walk hazard – with a steep path leading down, a river-bed walk for some metres, and a steep path up-again, was tackled successfully by many Connemaras but had to be abandoned before the High Performance Class, due to high levels of river water. All of these classes had good entries and Elaine Creaven and her 4yr. year old gelding Tarpey won her WH. Class. This combination had a great Clifden Show as they had also taken their Ridden Class on Thursday.
The under 16 winner was Anne Maguire’s Foxcourt ably ridden by young Conor Maguire (who was also placed as Reserve Champion Working Hunter) Blackwood Fernando and Alicia Devlin Byrne took the Honours in the over 16 Class.
This incredible combination have won all before them for the past five years or so and won the Working Hunter Championship at Clifden, plus beating off the opposition to be the first winner of the new High Performance Hunter Class.
The Stallion Working Hunter Class went to Liam Lynskey’s Black Shadow ridden to victory by Donegal girl Victoria Gibson. Working Hunter Judges Sarah Sinnott and Julia Woods judged through a totally wet session but there was a slight respite for Judges Vanessa Copmton and Amanda Jones during the High Performance judging. Course builder Pascal Crawford devised tracks both eye-catching and testing during a long day of competitions.
The rain had cleared by mid afternoon in time for the Cleggan Beach Musical Ride to again entertain the crowd to live- music and vocals from Liam Aspel and Michael Carey. The eight riders, all mounted on Connemara ponies gave an advanced display of skill and dexterity in time to the lively and siometimes haunting music of the local musicians. Judy Cazabon and her team from Cleggan have a major achievement here.
The Puissance competition with ten entries, was soon whittled down to a few but it was left to the veteran Bobby Sparrow Blue to be the only one to clear the daunting wall at 1.45.
Bobby Sparrow Blue carries the one of the most outstanding performance lines of all as his sire Ashfield Bobby Sparrow (Carna Bbby) was a top International performer in his day.
The 16 year old stallion has an impressive record of wins to his name including the Clifden Puissance where he shared to top prize in 2009, and 2010 with rider Darrren Walsh. Patricia Dalton of Co. Derry is now his owner and the rider is her daughter Justine O’Hara.
One of the Judges April Merveldt had been heard to say ” The approach is the most important part of the jump” and Justine O’Hara demonstrated this to perfection on Friday. Elaine Fahy on Liscannor Lad, another well-schooled combination, just flipped the top of the wall at this final round.to take runner-up place.
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