Performance Hunter Championships
A storm unleashed cats and dogs over Ring 2 for all of Thursday morning at Dublin’s RDS Showgrounds. The rain and wind served to doubly test the qualified competitors as they bravely jumped the colourfull but taxing 16 obstacle course for the Connemara Hunter Finals, with elaborate fence-greenery swaying and toppling in the wind. Class 71 for younger ponies saw the young 5 – 7 year olds complete the course after first doing a flatwork phase and finishing with a conformation assessment. Judges Hubert Laurent from France and Bob Tait from Scotland, were Connemara Pony Judges for the two days of competition. Each phase is marked on jumping technique, conformation, obedience, and way of going, out of a total 300 marks. Niamh’s Weblog had not arrived early enough to see this first class competitors perform and to our surprise the top marks went to two young 5 yr old stallions who must have delivered exceptional performances. Owner/Rider Jason Higgins with Josie Jump by Currachmore Cashel X Ballybeg Maggie gained 260 points to win the Championship and take a handsome prize of €1,750 plus RDS Ribbons back to Wexford.
Edwina O’Connor with her mother’s Agharanny Minstrel by Castleside JJ X Silver Mint was marked at 255 points to take the 2nd prize, another substantial sum, back to Co. Wexford also. Berney Bros. Saddlery are the most generous sponsors backing these Connemara championships which aim to display “the rideability, scope, versatility and suitability for child or adult” of our Native pony. And all seating around the Ring was packed in spite of the unkind weather.
Class 72 with an entry of 18 also, for 8 – 15 year. old ponies was won by Alison Suffern’s Annagh Storm (Ashfield Festy X Caltra Lass) a ten year old gelding skilfully piloted by the owner’s daughter Rachel. This Co. Down combination were winners of the Younger class competition in 2009.
The runner-up spot was filled by last year’s actual winning duo of Lorli Higgin’s Grey Victory an 11 year old gelding son of Glencarrig Finn X Kilmaley Lady, and daughter Emily, just back from a successful Performance Day visit to Clifden last week. Driven indoors by the rain (I do not have a Dublin picture so I am cheating a bit here and using – you guessed it – a sunny Clifden photo). Some pictures above of some of the many talented ponies in the championships which proved to be of an exceptionally high standard in spite of the elements.
All pictures © Niamh’s Weblog