Rain, rain and more rain fell from the skies over Templemore on Sunday yet trailer after trailer after lorry pulled into the puddled car park to discharge a plentiful cargo of riders and horses for the first leg of our new Autumn League.
There’s no question that all riding clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain previous levels of activity in these stringent times. Entry numbers reflected the appetite for a focussed inter-club event as members of all three clubs jumped at the opportunity of a good riding experience combined with a social day out.
Atrocious weather conditions made warm-up for jumping almost unbearable but everybody weathered the storm and we witnessed some great competitive and training efforts over the course of the day. Louise mastered the gigantic step up from Crosspoles to Welcome Stakes with ease, getting the day’s action off to a very positive start. The Gaeltachts drew first blood in the Primary class with Ryan McBride notching up a cool victory on his partner Bud. Our very own Hazel was a gallant second on Sapphire (Bracken Girl). Gaeltacht clubmate Tommy McGinley continued where Ryan left off when getting the better of Lawrence and Enda in the Advanced Primary division.
By the time the Intermediate class came round, things were getting nicely democratic with each of the three clubs represented in the 4-way jump-off for honours. Anne Chambers on Molly brought Letterkenny a great victory with Francis hot in pursuit in second place. Our Advanced Intermediate riders followed up in the final class of the day with Damien, Cormac and Joanne all getting into a tight jump-off. Cormac, endlessly unlucky in the spring league, put past experiences behind him and nailed a long-overdue victory on the recently-reformed, no-longer-recalcitrant Charlotte.
Points-Keeper Ruth has returned the results in record time and the battle lines have now been clearly drawn for the league. The condensed 3-week format will keep interest levels high while the double points available at the final will mean that nothing can be decided until the last competitor in each class has jumped on Sunday 11 November.
Thanks to everybody who helped make the day a great success. Thanks to Patricia, Cormac and Dympna in the judge’s box, to Seamus for a sympathetic course, and to all our members who put their shoulders to the wheel on the day when Letterkenny had responsibility for making things happen. Particular thanks to those members who turned up hours in advance of their own competition time and stayed on until the end of the day to ensure that everything ran smoothly. Audrey and Jenny proved their commitment to the club as non-riders yet again, spending hours on duty, scarcely recognisable beneath all the layers of rain gear. Finally, special thanks to Rudi Schneider who ended up working a shift at the warm-up arena gate on what was intended to be his day off duty.
Pictured below: When the rain finally stopped: some late-in-the-day activity at Templemore.