The final of the spring league (check out https://letterkennyridingclub.com/gallery-2/2018-spring-league/) was held on a bitterly cold, but dry and bright, day on Sunday. Attendance was a bit lower than expected but the level of competition was very high as riders took on the challenging course of dog legs, doubles and bending lines. The combination of desiccated Christmas trees, cottages, wavy planks and imposing green castles, took a surprisingly small toll as horse and rider partnerships showed the advantage of some continuous league outings.
Having ironed out some misunderstandings regarding training classes, the day got underway with the primary grade where Niamh Sharkey pipped Ciara Boyle for poll position on the day, also winning the primary league outright. Ciara held onto second place in the league, ahead of Paula Doohan, who was unable to attend the final. The hero of this grade is without doubt He’s A Dandy, who ferried his enthusiastic riders so safely each week. Credit must also go to Patricia Warren who has been so instrumental in encouraging and enabling riders at this level to join the AIRC and avail of the fun and support to be enjoyed.
The advanced primary grade has been extremely competitive throughout the league and some riders have made huge strides over the course of the spring, not least our own Hazel and Louise. Whilst the final day did not quite go to plan for Louise she had done so well on previous legs that she still snagged second place overall in the league, beaten only by the highly consistent Liz Potter of the Donegal Gaeltacht. Inishowen’s Lauren McLaughlin and Lynn Thompson took home the third and fourth place rosettes but despite missing a crucial week Hazel still took home a rosette for fifth, leaving Tommy McGinley to mop up sixth place glory for the Gaeltachts.
The nineteen riders on the intermediate leader board had provided the spectators with some exceptionally exciting jump-offs over the space of the league but none more so than at the final, where Kellie McClafferty took full advantage of previous experience over the jumps to hurtle to a win on her new mount, beating Patrick Hunter of Tirconail into an unaccustomed second place. Rachel and Merlin gave the winning pair a run for their money, knocking two seconds off the winning time but unfortunately catching the second element of the double in the process. Kellie’s win at the final wasn’t quite enough to shift Patrick off the winners podium for the league, but it was enough to secure her second place ahead of Veronica Lafferty. Cliff Haley claimed fourth position on the ever enthusiastic Shyla, with Tirconails Tricia Ward and Charlie Vial in fifth and sixth respectively.
The advanced intermediates battled it out in style, with Dawn Hyndman swapping the previous day’s ski slopes for the winning ride on Colorado. Cormac put in one of his most stylish exhibitions to claim second place on the day but got pushed to third in the overall placings by the game and gutsy Roseleen McGinley aboard a somewhat difficult ride. Stephen Greene and Rudy Hermans were joined in the rosette lineup by Jade McClafferty, who had done enough in early legs to be able to miss the final and still claim a ribbon.
For the first time in the history of the league (I think) the open/advanced open class was truly competitive and very well supported, not least of all by Bruce Vial, who competed on two mounts at almost every leg. Definitely a class bolstered by the bravery of youth the winning Donegal Gaeltacht rider, Cassandra Magee, lead home Emily Schneider, with Bruce taking both third and fourth places. Letterkenny’s Shauna Boyle took the penultimate spot ahead of Laura Schneider.
The league was a resounding success and was very well supported and enjoyed. Huge thanks must go to all who helped out over the course of the spring, especially those who braved the bitter conditions in the outdoor arena to steward the warm-up. As always the results service provided by Liz was second to none and the photography and video coverage supplied by various supporters was much appreciated.
SO WHAT NOW?? Well we certainly have plenty to look forward to. This friday evening Charles Maudlin is giving a talk on crosscountry rules and regulations. This is taking place in Kinnegar Brewery in Letterkenny (beside/behind Arena7) and should prove to be an enjoyable and sociable way to come to grips with the intricacies of hunter trialling and eventing. From the permitted tack and turnout to the meanings of the various flags on jump options, rules regarding timing and how to mark a score sheet…it will all become clear on Friday. Contact Ryan McBride on 083 1662201 to book in for this event.
On sunday, if weather and ground conditions permit, we have the first event in the two-phase league taking place at Drumanoo Equestrian. This is an excellent chance to get in some cross country training before heading south on the 8th of April for the national hunter trial championships in Flowerhill, Co. Galway. Anyone who wishes to take part in the two phase this sunday should already have their entry in with Hazel as the event is strictly pre-entry.
Our next AIRC outing is a dressage and showjumping training day on Easter monday. This event is being held in Twin Towns Equestrian Centre and is being coached by Tony Ennis, a great riding club advocate and supporter.