Seated here at my laptop surrounded by the flotsam and jetsam of the current house clearance related to demolition and reconstruction of a new kitchen in our house, I will try to give some impressions of a fleeting Friday visit to the Clifden Show this year. A dodgy car just returned from the garage took us out from the Galway rain into afternoon intermittent sunshine in Connemara. But the cascading torrents down the cliff face overhanging the road just twenty minutes from Clifden gave us a foretaste of what to expect at the Showgrounds. It was great just to arrive, to see the end of the High Performance where the brave ponies and riders jumped a course where the footing had suffered from the weather conditions, the torrential rains of August.
So many new jumping competitions had taken place on Wednesday that Ring Two was now muddily impassable and the river had risen so high that the competitions could not use the impressive river jumps which have been a usual feature of the Friday Working Hunter competitions and the High Performance Final.
High Performance Winners The ever-reliable and brilliant 20 year old veteran Blackwood Fernando (Ferdia X Dancing Queen) with regular rider Alicia Devlin Byrne had taken the hotly contested Over 16 Working Hunter Class, and were called in as Working Hunter Champions again this year and also won the High Performance Final. unter, rider over 16
Two other well known performers, RDS winner Edwina O Connor with Agharganny Minstrel (Castlesdide JJ X Silver Mint) and Waterford’s Pauline Dahill on Brickey Echo (Ashfield Echo I Love You X Omey Maeve), took second and third Rosettes in the High Performance Class.
Ground conditions in Ring One were still just about passable as the improved drainage here made the Puissance competition possible, as the final competition at the end of three days of pony activity. Four ponies got through to the 1.42 metre final round but none jumped clear. Former Puissance heroes,such as Robe Earl and Lettermuckoo Lad (Island Lad), a Grade A show-jumper, both former Puissance winners in the past couple of years having cleared – correct me if I’m wrong – was it 1.50 and 1,60 metres on those past occasions? So 4 ponies shared the top prize. These were Lettermuckoo Lad with Justine O’Hara and Glencarrig Joey (Bunowen Bobby X Glencarrig Starling) with rider Padraig Geoghegan, and the Geldings, Sea Storm (Ballinavilla Prince X Little Nora) with local rider Talitha Diamond and Blackwood Fernando (Ferdia) and owner/riderAlicia D.Byrne.
Going back to the (missed) Thursday happenings at the Show, it was good to see some of that day’s winning ponies in the parade through Clifden on Friday evening.
First the Supreme with Ballyconneely’s Shane Sweeney. While the photo isn’t the best the story I heard is a good one. Apparently his owner Noel Sweeney bought the mature mare Poesie Melody bred by Hubert Laurent – sight unseen – while on a Judging visit to the National Connemara Pony Show in France last year. Why? During the French Show, Noel and co-Judge Padraig Hynes had selected a striking three year old mare out of Poesie Melody (Imperator Melody X Equinoxe) as their Junior Champion. Noel brought the dam Poesie back home to Ballyconneely and entered her at Clifden where Judges Martin Coyne and Ernie Somerville) selected her as their winner in the 10 to 15 year old Mare Class and later as Best Pony in the Show!
Another lovely senior was Dermot Dunnes’s seventeen year old Fionn Lady (Monaghanstown Fionn X Beech Girl). This pony travelled back home to Portarlington with a sackfull of Rosettes and trophies as she had won the Over 16 Mare Class, was judged the Best Pony owned and exhibited by an Owner resident outside Connemara, and was selected as Reserve Supreme Champion of the Show. The Champion Ridden Pony is seen above trotting smartly up Market Street ridden by Galway pony producer Grace Murphy. This gelding Afro Jack (Gleann Rua Maxwell X Fernville Lady), jointly owned by Grace and fiancée William McMahon,won his 6-8 years Ridden Class and later won the Ridden Championship. Not alone that but another Gleann Rua Maxwell son Maximillian out of Lakeside Misty won the Gelding Class, with Afro Jack next in the line-up to take the blue rosette.
The strong bay colour of the 2 Year old Colt winner stood out among the greys. This was Seabreeze Mirah (Westside Mirah X Cashel Bay Courtney) owned by Michael Harty Junior from Oranmore.
The 4-6 Stallion Class went to a pony with a strong winning lineage, this was Noel Noonan’s Manor Duke (Currachmore Cashel X Banks Vanilla) shown by Joe Burke.
A young mare, Silverhill Lass (Dunloughan Troy X Heather Star) won her Mare Class for 4-5 Year Olds for her owner Aisling Sweeney of Ballyconneelly, a family which had such a good day at the Show.
The Stallion Class Over 7 yrs. winner, a top performance representative of the breed for many years, was Barbara and Robbie Fallon’s home bred Cashelbay Prince (I Love You Melody X Coosheen Pheasant)
For further information and Result pictures, go to www.cpbs.ie where you can read the interesting and comprehensive Report of Show PRO Phyllis Jones.