THE Intro dressage class at last Saturday’s opening round of the Bailey Horse Feeds flexi-eventing series at The Meadows, which is run by the Northern Region of Eventing Ireland, attracted such a large entry that it had to be divided.

The day’s highest score was awarded in Section B where Lucinda Webb-Graham’s winner was Nicola Martin and her Irish Draught mare Misty (79.4%). Registered as Dundrum Misty Blue, the five-year-old is a daughter of Killinick Bouncer and was bred in Co Laois by the National Ploughing Association’s Anna Marie McHugh out of her Holycross mare Holy Cross Mist.

“I have her about six months or so,” commented Martin of the grey. “We’ve done a bit of low level dressage and jumping with her and hope to do a few events this year, all being well.”

Sarah Russell finished second on another Irish Draught, the six-year-old Carrabawn Cross gelding Dowdstown PJ (75.3) whose dam, the 2012 Crosstown Dancer mare Dowdstown Belle, was evented at EI100 level by David O’Connor. This combination also recorded a clear round over the 80cms cross-country course.

Thirteen-year-old Amelia Wheeler made a winning flexi-eventing debut when she narrowly topped Coreen Abernethy’s scores in Section A on board Midnight Minty (74.5%). Another five-year-old winner, Midnight Minty is a piebald gelding who is said to be a Connemara/traditional cob cross.

This combination competed in Trailblazers’ company with Dressage Ireland last year, winning the summer championships and leagues at both Castle Irvine, Necarne and Portmore. Prior to the Covid lockdown, Wheeler focussed on showing but then switched to show jumping and dressage and is currently trained by Trevor Smith. She and Midnight Minty also took part in the show jumping and cross-country phases on Saturday, lowering one coloured pole before going clear in the final arena over the 80cms track.

Janice Ireland finished second in the dressage phase on a personal best score of 74.3 with her 11-year-old bay gelding Technicolour Dream who is also competed in Pony Club activities by Ireland’s daughter Claire, a member of the North Down Branch.

Win for Parmer

FEI international judge David Lee may not have expected an international field to come before him in the 40-strong Pre Novice class but his winner was 17-year-old Indian competitor Bhulo Parmer on board Tori Dixon’s one-time mount, Mawillan (76.5%).

Parmer, a high-performance rider based at the Madhya Pradesh State Equestrian Academy in Bhopal, has been training with Becky and Declan Cullen over the winter but will be returning to India shortly. He is a cousin of Raju Singh who partnered the 11-year-old bay gelding Mawillan in the CCI2*-L at Ballindenisk last August.

Katie McKee finished second in this very competitive class on a score of 74.8 with Murray (aka Summit), a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Je T’aime Flamenco. The bay was bred by June Burgess out of her event mare Olive Oyle II (by Nader).

Murray was campaigned by David O’Connor at EI100 level five times last year with McKee taking the ride back to finish fifth in the EI90 at Finvoy on the final day of the Northern Region season. On Saturday, they recorded a double clear in the 1m show jumping.

Anyone who thought that Denis Currie might not defend his crown as the Baileys Horse Feeds flexi-eventing champion was put right on Saturday when the title-holder recorded a narrow success in the David Lee-judged Novice class with Arodstown Aramis (72%).

Currie and his now 18-year-old ISH gelding by Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan have actually won this series on three occasions. Their victory last year preceded an eventing season which saw them record three EI110 (Amateur) successes from five starts (they finished second twice) while they rounded off their 2022 campaign by placing third in the EI110 (Open) at Loughanmore.

Here, Suzanne Hagan placed second with Bubblegum (71.5) on whom, under his registered name Loughview Commander, she recorded two EI110 victories last season. This combination also filled the runner-up spot, on their dressage score (30.2 penalties), in the CCIYH2*-S for six-year-olds at Millstreet in August to Australia’s Kevin McNab riding Faro Imp (29.7).

Due to logistical reasons, the four-runner Intermediate class was reduced to a match which was won by Laura Birley and the 15-year-old grey gelding Bob Cotton Bandit (66.9%) on whom she competed twice at CCI4*-S level last season.