Daddy delivers as Baby Emily steals the show

If winning can become a habit, Nadine and Damien’s 2-week old daughter Emily was set the best possible example at today’s fourth leg of the North West League. In a riveting Advanced Intermediate class where three competitors proved that big entries aren’t needed in order to captivate a crowd, Damien rode Armstrong to another emphatic victory with the only clear round of the class. The league’s Advanced Intermediate honours now teeter on a mouthwatering knife edge as Damien and Stephen face each other for the fifth and final time on Sunday 25 March.

An already enjoyable day was lit up by the sight of Nadine and Damien pushing a little pram across the carpark half way through the show. Emily was the biggest crowd puller of the day and stimulated childhood memories from the likes of Leo, who speculated that he was just as beautiful but possibly not quite as quiet as a baby. Emily took the occasion in her stride and looks like she’s born to be a riding club member.

Like a good few other members, Leo was somewhat the worse for wear after a riotous night at the Donegal Harrier’s Hunt Ball the previous evening. Cool took advantage of the situation and decided how best to negotiate the course, leaving Leo with a sixth place standing instead of a glorious win. With the Gaeltachts filling the top three spots in the Advanced Primary class, it was slim pickings for Letterkenny with fourth, fifth and sixth for Keary, Orla Moore and Leo respectively. Less partying next time boys — think of your club responsibilities!

Both Liz and Hazel had uncharacteristic mishaps in the Primary class. It was Christopher on Angel who finished best of the Letterkennys in second place leaving Rudi Schneider of the Gaeltachts on Boysie to enjoy a great victory. Liz is practically home and dry in the Primary league but, with Christopher snapping at her heels, she’ll need to keep her eye on the ball and Judy’s mind on the fences if she’s definitely to nail the red rosette in two weeks’ time. Despite an unlucky fall today, Hazel is still within striking distance of a top three placing and won’t be conceding any points lightly.

There were plenty of people competing exclusively HC, notably Suzanne Deeney who produced a confidence-boosting double clear in the Welcome Stakes on Templemoyle Jack, and Rachel who has advanced with Lotto to 80cm training rounds. Lotto caught the eye of several spectators with her enthusiastic, stylish and athletic jumping.

It was great to see Bruce Vial back in the saddle with all his usual quiet and effective style. He rode Mona’s Johnny Cash in some training rounds as Mona watched from the sidelines nursing a broken rib from a recent spill. Both watched the Intermediate jump-off with intense interest as six riders gave it their best. Charlie was three quarters of the way to victory with a cracking round when Ozzy put in one of his hallmark seated stops after meeting a big spread on a bad stride. Victory went to the Gaeltacht’s Carmel Ferry whose hair-raising round on Pepe Lad almost brought the house down. A much-deserved victory for a great competitor.

Laura Schneider was the only competitor in the Open class and, having safely bagged her 7 points, she went on to entertain the crowd with a wonderful 1.20m training round on Chloe Lass. Likewise, Louise was the only crosspoles competitor but delivered another great performance on an uncharacteristically reluctant Daisy.

All in all, it was another wonderful day’s competition with enjoyment and achievement doled out in generous measures. The league now takes a two week break before the fifth and last show on Sunday 25 March. The league points table makes intriguing reading and promises a great finale.

Thanks to everybody who helped on the day, and to our coursebuilder, Seamus, and judge, Jacqueline. Full results and points table to follow.

Pictured below: Star of the show, Emily, was present to see Daddy taking top honours in the Advanced Intermediate class on family hero, Armstrong. More photos to follow.