This now hallowed Clifden Showground is the principal showcase for the Connemara Best of Breed and early on Thursday morning the Yearling Colts entered Ring One to begin the day’s showing-in-hand on a lively note. The young Colts didn’t know it but this was a changed Ring from that trodden by their forebears for many years, often turning to a squelchy mud-ring by midday. This year the grass grew on a raised flat verdant lawn, never again to be flooded by the neighbouring river. It was a pleasure to see that this pristine surface, now well piped and drained, still remained looking like a golf-course fairway by the end of Day Two. But back to the ponies starting with young stock.
Dolan Mick, Supreme Champion here four years ago was the sire of this year’s yearling frontrunner, Dolan Pete (dam Katie Dolan Lass) shown by Michelle Conroy. Following in a close 2nd was Caoranbeg Champ (Moorland Snowy River – Gallowstown Bibi), bred and owned by Carraroe’s Peter O’Malley.
In the next Class with 13 lovely Yearling fillies in the ring, Tom Clancy struck gold when his Filly Loughconn Daisy (I Love You Melody – Loughill Molly) caught the eyes of Judges Joanna MacInnes, England and Michael Naughton from Rosmuc, and he took the Carew Cup and Galway Crystal Trophy back to Moycullen. Malachy Gorhams Linsfort Barney filly Kingstwn Diana whose dam Kingstown Dana took the Clifden Supreme in ’08, stood in 2nd place.
Feichin King was a recent winner at his local Ballyconneely Show with his 2yr.old Colt Johnny Fox (Glenayre Silver Fox – Dohulla Lucky Star) and his lucky star was again present when he was called in – the best of ten strapping Colts- to take the Red Ribbon and the Sarzeau Trophy and Galway Crystal. 2nd in line was the Stephen Fahy owned Ben Bán Cracker (True Commotion – Ben Bán Glen Sally)
There were some eighteen Fillies in the 2 year old class. After the initial walk and individual trot around, it was sad to see the back line of 6 ponies “shown the gate” and this procedure continued throughout the day as time was short and lots more classes were to follow. The Judges little disagreement over the choices for 1st and 2nd place in this Class, however, took over twenty minutes to sort out, even with the help of the Show’s Referee judge, but eventually we had a winner. This was breeder Padraig Hynes’ quality dun filly Canal Princess (Fredericksminde Hazy Match – Castle Countess). Hazelrock Star (Glencarrig Prince – Smokey Star), a frequent show-ring winner for owner / breeder Kieran McGrath, was just pipped to the post and it was good to see a strong handshake between these two owners conclude the Class. By now the grounds were overflowing with visitors from countries worldwide (13 from Australia alone) joining Irish Connemara Pony enthusiasts and many families and friends around the two Rings, with standing room only for much of the day.
Glencarrig Rose Marie (Glencarrig Prince – April Rose) had won the Clifden 2yr. old Class last year and this attractive 3yr old now topped her really strong Class again this year for owner Cáillín Conneely who carried home the sash, red ribbons and the Killanin Cup He was later awarded the Reserve Junior Championship to add to his laurels. Cathy Stuffle – a Ballyconneely native also, showed her Aoife’s Pride (Glendine Kestrel – Jasmine) into 2nd place in this 18 strong Class.
The feisty 3 year old Stallions were next in the Ring, all twelve of them The stallion numbers currently entering Shows has risen considerably and this year, thanks to the sponsorship from the family of the late Bobby and Bridget Bolger, Clifden has added another stallion Class to its Catalogue and all Classes are receiving large entries. The top prize here – again going to Ballyconneely – was awarded to breeder / owner Terence Sweeney’s strong and typey Dunloughan Troy (Currachmore Cashel – Bay Lass) who received the Donal Kenny Memorial Trophy. Cashel’s Declan Ridge was runner-up with his Earl of Clonriff (Earl of Newbridge – Sonoma) bred by Paddy Geoghegan.
The Junior Championship was sponsored by the Lee family of Moycullen and Michael Lee presented the Lee Memorial Cup to Padraig Hynes’ Canal Princess while Cáillin Conneely accepted the Reserve sash for Glencarrig Rose Marie.
Eighteen strapping young stallions aged 4-6 years now entered the Ring under new Judges, France’s Hubert Laurent and local Judge Ciarán Curran.
Patrick McGrath’s striking Lucky Rebel (Currachmore Cashel – Lucky Mavourneen) was the judge’s choice to receive the Red, followed by John Varley’s stylish Coolin America (Coosheen Stormboy – Illaunurra Lady).
The mature stallions, muscular and powerful, ten in number, now kept the crowds enthralled and Joe Gorham’s Kingstown Fionn (Monaghanstown Fionn – Kingstown Silver) was a worthy Winner to receive the Peadar O’Toole Trophy for Joe’s son and handler, Malachy.
Second in line taking the Blue rosette was Eamon Burke’s Cloon-Eile Cashel (Cloonisle Cashel – Tolka Bridge) handled by Joe Burke who carried off the Supreme last year with the great Currachmore Cashel.
Mare Classes – seven in all- were to follow, as class after class of beautifully presented females of all ages were paraded to be admired by all. Rosscon Windy Lady (Laerkens Cascade Dawn – Winnie)
had won the Young Handlers class in Ring 2 with young Maeve Conneely, and now arrived in Ring 1 to take the Archbishops Cup with
Maeve’s father Johnny, who produced and showed this stunning mare for her owner Clifden based Noel Noonan.
But first a quick look at a few more Mares in Ring One. Eleven 6-7 yr. old mares were still left in class 11 after the ‘gateing’ of some half-dozen, and many of these were former show-ring winners and champions. Village Linnet (Laerkens Cascade Dawn–Village Girl) was the judges’ choice (and they were apoilt for choice in this class) and her owner/breeder Henry O’Toole was chuffed to receive the American Connemara Breeders Cup and RDS Medallion for his mare who had only been shown twice this season. At Ballyconneely she won the Supreme and Clifden was to be another red letter day. The ‘many times Champion mare, Sean Dunne’s Danish bred Banks Vanilla (Teglstrup Duke – Squares DoDo) was the blue rosette winner on this occasion.
Noel Sweeney with Doonhill Lass (Innelan Kestrel – Cartron Abbey) headed the line-up in the 6-9 years Mares Class and took home the Val Moran Memorial Cup, with Mullingar’s Edward Fleming with Gneevebrack Belle in runner-up position.
We’re now at the older mares section, the 10-15yr. olds, a large Class which was filled to capacity with champion mares, and Henry O’Toole was called in first and scooped the Bartley O’Sullivan Memorial Shield with Castle Urchin (Abbeyleix Owen – Castle Dame) Willian Connolly from Ballinahown was awarded the Blue Rosette for his Connemarsa Rose (Rynn Richard – Cailín Alainn). The over 16 years mares were, as might be expected, a dignified matronly group of seniors and Padraig and Nicola Heanue’s Castle Cailin Ard (Rocky – Castle Dame) was chosen to take home the Jimmy Jones Trophy and RDS Medallion.
(All Class first prizewinners also received a Galway Crystal Vase) Michael Maloney with Ballybawn Princess Eileen (Boden Park Finnard – Aran Kilchriost) were runners- up in this mares over 16 Class.
The SUPREME CHAMPION was Village Linnet, much to the joy of Henry O’Toole and his family
“It was just an unbelievable feeling to win this”, he said. RESERVE SUPREME was-unbelievably -another mare from the same Castle stud as Village Linnet, Padraig Heanue’s Castle Cailín Ard.
This Report has become so lengthy that the blog will now give you a break and Thursday’s Ridden Classes will feature on a separate Page See Ridden Classes in Sidebar Also see Sidebar for Friday’s Working Hunter, Musical Ride, Driving and Puissance.
All photos © Niamh’s Weblog WWW.MARNE.IE