Click on picture to enlarge. Millstreet was ‘en fête’ in the last week of July ’14 as the Duggan family pulled out all the stops to give the visiting pony riders and their families a visit to remember at their top-class Green Glens equestrian facility. Set in out-of-the-way north west Cork, close to the Kerry border, the Duhallow Region is one of the most beautiful and fertile areas in the south of Ireland. On entering the town you were met by the signs along the roadway welcoming each of the 15 groups of overseas visitors from Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe, some of them coming to compete with Connemara ponies.
The first time the European Pony Championships came to Ireland was in 1981 and featured Show jumping only. Dressage and Eventing were introduced for the 1989 Championships. In 1981 the Connemara Pony Breeders Society took the opportunity to follow up on the good publicity the breed had received when Ashfield Bobby Sparrow had been awarded Gold at the Europeans the previous year. Both Ashfield Bobby Sparrow and Currycahill Katie delivered a jumping display in 1981 which saw both mare and stallion clear a fence at 5 foot 2”. Millstreet 2014 saw two full brothers out of Misty Maiden, and other progeny of Ashfield Bobby Sparrow, take part;
Many of Ashfield Bobby Sparrow’s progeny have had fantastic performance careers. Some Man for One Man is shown jumping with rider Adam Carey for Sweden at Millstreet, now at the age of 20, he has jumped on International teams for the past five or six years. The grade A Show-jumper and Clifden Puisssance winner, Bobby Sparrow Blue displayed his sire’s ability in the morning’s Performance Hunter Class with rider Justine O’Hara.
This year the Connemara Breeders again took the same decision as their forebears 33 years ago and ran Performance Classses, a Stallion Parade and Dressage to Music on the Thursday, all in the huge main Indoor Arena (beautifully spacious but lights not camera friendly!)
A Connemara Green Hunter Class for 4yr olds started the day.
Seven young ridden ponies were judged by Gillian Kyle, and the Red rosette was presented to Kaitlyn’s Rebel owned by Kerrry’s Clive Swindell and ridden by Dublin’s Alyssa O’Neill – who has trained and produced this mare by Westside Mirah X Duncan Rebel. This combination had won a couple of Ridden and Working Hunter Classes over the past two months. The Ride Judge Mary Mitchell , found this young bay mare a well-schooled and responsive pony, a joy to ride. Pic is from another venue.
Performance Hunter competition.
Seventeen well-known performance ponies took part before Judge Gillian Kyle in this Performance Hunter Class, held indoors over a fairly uncomplicated track. Winner was Josie Jump winner of the Millstreet Discovery Class as a five year old, plus the RDS Hunter Performance Class for the past two years running at Dublin, so it was no surprise to see this 7yr. old stallion by Currachmore Cashel X Ballybeg Maggie called in to stand in the winner’s spot.
He is now owned by J.J Bowe of Wexford and has been competed by Jason Higgins – who bought him, broken and ridden – at the Clifden Mart in May 2012, from his owner/breeder Galway’s Martin Burke. With Martin Burke he had been the winner of the 3 yr. old Stallion Class at Galway County Show in 2010 and has sired 32 foals. Jason Higgins went on with Josie Jump to win the Young Connemara Hunter Class in Dublin in August ’12, just 12 weeks after his lucky purchase. As a 6 yr old, this combination again hit the RDS limelight making it a double in 2013. The Burke children named him as a foal after a TV character.! and Martin says this stallion was always well-mannered and quiet. 2nd was the multi talented gelding Gloster Boy with a spectacular performance career behind him. He is owned by Helena Dawson and ridden by Lydia Dawson. Noreen O’Connor’s Agharanny Minstrel with rider Edwina O’Connor was 3rd
The Stallion Parade, later in the afternoon, had a good turnout of about 18 ponies, with In-Hand and Ridden stallions. The CPBS programme gave all details and Record of Achievement of each individual pony from the venerable Currachmore Cashel to some leading performance stallion such as Cashelbay Prince and Bobby Sparrow Blue to the younger sires and those newly imported to the Irish scene. A very informative session.
Dressage 2014 was the first year that Ireland fielded a Dressage Team for the Europeans and Alana Cazabon Sullivan from Cleggan in Connemara was best of the Irish with her pony Schermeers Hof Arendsoog . (see more in ‘Ponies to Watch’ in this Blog)
On Thursday afternoon the Show jumping and Eventing Dressage were in full swing. We saw some Irish Eventing riders, Shannon Sheridan and Alex Power ride their tests. The Dressage winners final tally consisted of Germany in Pole position with Britain in Second place and the Netherlands taking Bronze.
Later in the afternoon, Western May with Mary Mitchell on board gave a beautiful demonstration of Dressage to Music, floating effortlessly around the indoor arena.
The blog photos here came out impossibly badly so, mea culpa, I have put an older picture in of this pair.
International Show jumping
In the Show jumping sand arena, the 10 yr. old Doon Laddie – by that top international Show jumping stallion Silver Shadow and out of Doon Kate by Island Lad – gave a foot-perfect performance in an Individual qualifying competition with Michael Pender of Team Ireland.
The pair came in 2nd to another high flying Irish-bred Belgian Connemara, Goliath Van De Groenweg, the 12 yr old son of Conor Mac Nessa and Glencarrig Delphinium Coosheen Finn). This combination also scooped Individual Show jumping Silver.
Roughan Sparrow was jumping for Switzerland. He was bred by Sligo’s Brian Sweeney and the 12 year old is by Glenayre Silver Fox and is out of Emlagh Suzie by Gun Smoke. Edouard Schmitz was the rider.
Team Ireland member, Susan Fitzpatrick who took home the Individual Gold Medal last year in Arezzo, was brilliantly jumping Rock Dee Jay again, and gained a Bronze Medal in the Individual Final this time around.
The striking bay is not a Connemara alas, but is described as Anglo European in the catalogue.
Another Team member Grace McHugh expertly piloted Cassandra van het Roelhof, a Belgian Warmblood.
The Connemara Attyrory Rebel whose breeding is not recorded but is known to be by Tempo Active Atlas X the Greenaun Rose (Coosheen Baily) is another member of Team Ireland,ridden by Sean Monaghan, Sorry No Pic.
On Saturday the good news was announced that Ireland had won the Silver Medal in the Team Show jumping, standing second in line to the Gold winners, France, who were superb throughout, while Germany took Bronze.
France, yet again, were the Gold Medal Winners in Team Eventing, with Silver for Britain and Italy taking Bronze. Newtown Westie (Westside Mirah X Derrymore Lass) ridden by Lucy Hancock, had the best scores for the Irish Pony Eventing Team . This bay gelding has carried different riders to good results in the Eventing world and it’s great to see him at 16 years still going strong.
The Eventing Track, running through the 300 acre parkland of nearby Drishane Castle takes the rider through 4 kilometres of scenic Munster countryside and was constructed this year to be ready in time for the Europeans Ponies.
Hover over gallery picture to view caption.