Stray time penalties deprive us of exciting jump-offs at North West League

Horses were transported in two directions through Letterkenny on Sunday as half the equestrian fraternity headed to the Donegal Harriers meet at Kilmacrennan while the other half travelled to Show 2 of the North West League in Templemore. Leo and Manus, two diehard huntsmen, opted for coloured poles for a change while Keary, winner at Templemore a week ago, went mysteriously AWOL for the day.

The value of the league as a training event was illustrated beautifully at Show 2 when some of last week’s quaking novices moved up a grade and covered themselves in glory in the process. Louise, sticking to cross poles for the league, described her tumble off Daisy at the end of her second round in lighthearted tones and then grinned ear-to-ear as she explained how she had done the course at a canter this week. She was joined in the class by Denis Kelly who, despite a two month absence from the saddle, flew around the course in fine style on his lovely cob, Davy Arthur, before going on to face the challenge of the Welcome Stakes. The Letterkenny contingent was completed by Orla, trialling the handsome Mr Ted in competition for the first time. Judging by the smile on her face, we might just be seeing a bit more of Ted at the league.

Last week’s debutant, Hazel, and her Gaeltacht rival Rudi Schneider, made the giant step up to Primary competition level and acquitted themselves admirably with highly competitive rounds. They finished fifth and second respectively but it was Liz who again dominated the competition with a flawless round on Judy. There were no navigational hiccups to capture the attention of the spectators but Liz had another ace up her sleeve with which to wow the crowds. Seconds after handing over her valiant mount to her groom, she opened her picnic basket and pulled out a spectacular homemade sponge cake, proving herself a multi-talented club member who understands that good food is an essential step to success.

New club member, Orla Moore, ventured out for her first league appearance on Lenamore’s Ballyarnett Lass. She followed a 70cm training round with her competitive debut in the Advanced Primary class and was still smiling happily when her day’s work was done. Young Ailbhe Kelly of the Gaeltachts put last week’s nasty fall behind her and jumped a lovely clear round in the Advanced Primary competition before her father, Manus, gave everybody a masterclass in the art of positive riding. He landed himself 4th place for his effort on Angel Bluebell while his great hunting buddy, Leo, went one place better on Cool. The class was won by the evergreen septuagenarian Lawrence Smyth on Jenny’s Jigsaw for the Gaeltachts.

Although Keary was conspicuously absent this week, Anne was riding in the 90cm competition. She gave Molly a really lovely positive, confident ride and finished her round with no jumping penalties. As luck would have it, despite appearing to travel in a good ground-covering rhythm, she incurred a single time penalty and we were thus deprived of a jump off in the Intermediate class. Victory went to Rachael McCrossan on Batteries Not Included who jumped the only penalty-free round of the class. It was a well-deserved victory for a competitor who has put in a lot of hard work and effort over a number of years. May it be the first of many wins for you, Rachael.

The four Advanced Intermediate competitors fought out a quietly tense and exciting battle for this week’s precious points. First to go, Cormac jumped a beautiful round on the formerly-recalcitrant Charlotte only to hear that dreaded announcement “time faults”. Stephen and Marina both left poles on the ground and when Damien rode an immaculate clear round on a razor-sharp Armstrong, all hope of a jump off went flying out the window. No excitement for the crowd and no adrenalin rush for Cormac, but that should take nothing away from a very impressive win.

Laura Schneider of the Gaeltachts chanced a 1.10 m round on Chloe Lass and thus our Open competition got off the ground for 2012 to conclude a great day’s entertainment and enjoyment.

Thanks to everybody who helped out on the day in any way. Don’t forget to make yourself available to Paddy, Packie and Patricia for a bit of helper duty at the next few shows. Action continues in two weeks’ time on Sunday 4 March.

Pictured below: New member Orla Moore discusses her first competitive riding club round with Cormac and her mother. More photos to come in the Gallery. See the Gaeltachts‘ site for photos too.