We could not have asked for a better day for our leg of the NWRC spring show-jumping league. After a cold, bright and frosty start to the day the sun shone without break and the atmosphere at the show was as bright and cheery as the weather. The league was very well supported by all the clubs and especially by Ben Bulben, who had three riders competing on the day. It was really great to see people willing to travel so far to join in the fun, and for Therese Anderson it was certainly worth her diesel money as she claimed both the RC80 and the RC90 classes. Therese was making good use of the new competition system that allows riders to jump at a one height higher than they are graded, and was delighted with her days outing on her trooper of a mount, Misneach.
Inishowen’s Grace Rodgers had a good day, taking the RC70 class in no uncertain fashion, relegating the Stracomer duo of Clodagh Brady and Ann Keaney to minor placings behind her. The RC80 was fought out between Inishowen, Tirconaill and the Ben Bulben raiders, with Therese triumphing over Tirconaill’s Laura Diver on her speedy Drumeenagh Chancie Boy. With the move up to the RC90 spectators were treated to the first of the jump-offs against the clock and once again Therese did Sligo proud, beating Inishowen’s Dawn McAllister on her ever-faithful Farrah. Charlie Vial rode superbly on the grey Vancouver Cruise, and if his sat-nav had worked properly he would have clinched the class nicely. The RC100 was very competitive, with the addition of the Sligo contingent boosting numbers nicely. Tirconaill made it a cosy one-two, when Marie Molloy took her second red rosette of the league and Mark Ward once again claimed the second spot. The long running rivalry between Mark and Letterkenny’s Rachel Carton resulted in an extremely fast jump-off from Rachel but unfortunately she had one pole down to relegate her to fourth place behind Ben Bulben’s Vanessa Sweeney.
A big thanks has to go out to our club members who turned out on the day to make the running of the show possible. Seamus McCaffrey built a suitably challenging course, ably assisted by Suzanne, Cormac and Paddy, who were onsite from start to finish on the day, with Suzanne combining arena duties with schooling her older horse, Jack, in the training classes. Rachel rocked up in time to do call-up and man the gates from the warm-up to the main arena, while Marina policed the access to the warm-up most of the day. Shauna Gailey received a rapid introduction to the joys of the judges box as she assisted Cormac while also taking on-the-day entries. Anne introduced her lovely new mount, Cassius, to the rigors of club life, before taking her place in the warm-up arena to move poles for the riders preparing for the higher classes. Erica joined the fray in time to relieve Rachel of her call-up duties, allowing for a decent warm-up and therefore no excuses for the crucial pole down in the RC100 jump-off. Jenny stood to attention at the main arena gate all day, monitoring safety and dispensing cheery encouragement. Condolences to Francis and Lorna, who both succumbed to the dreaded Covid just in time to miss the show, as did Ben Bulben’s Finola Murphy. Get well soon guys.
The league final takes place in Eglinton Equestrian Centre on March 20th, and promises to be a hard fought finale.