A Worthy Surprise Supreme See Sidebar on right for Gallery photos
(Click on photo to enlarge) For fifteen year old Jenny Byrne from Kildare, her wildest dream was realised when her pony Longstone Hero was called in to take the Supreme Sash and the Michael Dillon perpetual Cup at the International Performance Championships at Oughterard Show on the last Saturday in August. The 7 yr.old gelding by Gleann Rua Maxwell out of Cashel Cherry was bred by Martin Keaney of Roundstone and sold as a foal to the McWeeney’s of Leitrim. Laura McWeeney who successfully showed him in- hand as a youngster and broke him for riding, describes him as “a real gentleman, easy to handle, you could bring him anywhere” and he won Gelding Classes and Championships on many occasions with Laura. He then ‘stood in the field’ for a couple of years until the Byrne family bought him as a six year old. With them he has successfully competed in Ridden and Side-saddle classes and at Newcastle Show this year, his first year under saddle, he was Supreme Champion and in Dublin he made Reserve Supreme in his Side Saddle Class. But Oughterard has been a major Championship win for this novice pony and the Byrne parents Ursula and John were understandably delighted that they had made the trip from Kildare to be there. This year’s Finals Day – the eighth consecutive year of these Championships – remained dry and bright (with just enough early morning rain to freshen the spectacular flower displays in the rings) with perfect ground conditions for the two Working Hunter and four Ridden Championships.
The first Ridden Class, A, confined to 4-5 year old ponies- a new Class introduced this year- was won by Katherine Wilkinson’s Geris Prince(Corrib Prince – Geri Maye) ridden by Emily Wilkinson. To have an overseas visitor take the first Championship seemed a nice touch and a fitting start to the day. Six ponies from England, Scotland and Wales, all qualified for Oughterard, also competed in Clifden 10 days earlier and stayed on for the Performance Championships.
Next came the highly competitive Senior Ridden Class B with a total of 13 ponies in the ring. Mister What (Village King – Meadow Harp) last year’s winner and Supreme Champion, took this Class again for his owner/rider Elizabeth Maher.
Blackwood Fernando ( Ferdia – Dancing Queen) stood reserve in this Championship with rider Alicia Devlin Byrne.
There were substantial number in every Class and the team of judges, Andrea Cathers, Carole Douglas, Sharon Fitton and Rebecca Stuart had their work cut out to reach agreed decisions.
The Junior Ridden class C, again with 13 in number, was the class where Longstone Hero took the Ridden Champion’s sash, followed in runner-up position by Nicola Brown’s Céide Rose (Jacks Promise-Rusheen Leagh). CéideRose has won both Working and Ridden Championships here previously with Claire Brown and this time was ridden by younger sister Caitlín.
Robbie Fallon’s Cashelbay Prince (I Love You Melody – Coosheen Pheasant) added yet another notch to his bow when he and rider Padraig Flanagan won the tricolour sash in the ridden stallion Championship, Class F.
Lucy Fabby’s Walstead Cartier (Tiercel Top Cat – Cutlers Lucky Gem) with Rebecca Fabby in the saddle were place second in this class.
The Working Hunter course, winding through the woods in the Showground, attracted admiring comments all-round for its originality, colour and challenging jumping options with banks, logs, timber fences, sunken road and railway gates all following the contours of the woodland trail.
Jimmy Canavan, a breeder and stallion master of many year’s experience was especially impressed with the high standards at Oughterard; “The standard was extremely high this year and any pony and rider would benefit from being at Oughterard. The Connemara pony is now shown to be very, very good. They have come to a high level and are always ready to raise their pitch. This is very good for breeders too; it is one of the best competitions in Ireland at the moment. At National level some money should be coming to this type of competition”. He also praised the riding skill and impeccable turnout of all ponies and riders involved.
The Senior Working Hunter Championship class D, with 12 in the final line-up, was won by the indomitable combination of Blackwood Fernando and Alicia Devlin Byrne. Pauline Dahill jumped Plume de Kezeg (Janus – Divrumenn) into Reserve position in this Championship.
In the Junior Working Hunter Class E eleven year old Eliza Hancock from Carlow rode her mother Jane’s Comical Con (Crusheen Comet – Crusheen Connie) into the top position to take the Championship sash. This Class had about 14 ponies jumping on the day and the roan gelding Ashfield Troubadour (Troubadour – Ashfield Blue Moll) jumped into 2nd place with rider Hannah Whittle.
In the following two Derby Classes – not confined to Connemaras – more than 20 ponies later tackled a long winding track with 22 fences in all, with many clear rounds.
This weblog has tried only to give a brief picture of the Championships here – and I haven’t even mentioned the Dressage which had a large number of entries – but a wide variety of other Ridden and Working Hunter Classes also went on at the Saturdays Show and Classes were specially run for local children and family ponies, where many children got their first taste of showing their pony.
Day Two was an equally sunny day with shorts, T-shirts and summer dresses galore as many young families enjoyed a good day out at the Agricultural Show. Young Walt (Castlestrange Fionn – Dangan Susie) and rider Padraig Flanagan took home the Honours in the Powers Quarry Cannon Ball Cup competition. The In Hand Champion was Banks Vanilla (Teglstrup Duke – Squares Do Do) and this was yet another Tricolour sash for this consistent show-ring winner.
In the Senior Mares Class, aged 20 and over, it was again Beatrice Murphy’s dowager queen, Lakeside Lady ( Abbeyleix Dolphin – Kits Bay) now 23, who took the Honours for Galway’s Murphy family for the forth consecutive year. As I only got to the last half hour of Sunday’s Show, I regretfully saw only two Classes. More pictures in the Gallery in Right Sidebar. or Click Here
All photos © Niamh’ Weblog . WWW.MARNE.IE