IN a year when many hunts felt unable to hold their traditional end of season hunter trials, the Laois Foxhounds ran what is undoubtedly the longest running event of its kind last Easter Saturday on what was its 65th renewal.

The event was originally held on Campion’s farm at Ballymullan, Abbeyleix before moving to Mary Pennnefether’s and a very successful run for 15 years on to the late Robert Roe’s at Ballintaggert. Some 25 years ago, the hunter tri als was moved to Stradbally Hall where the Cosby family have proven to be welcoming and generous hosts. Many Laois events are held in the park such as their recent point-to-point and of course, the National Hound Show held on the first weekend in July.

The Laois Hunt’s hunter trials attracts possibly the biggest turnout for any event of its kind and only in the recent past as many as 1,000 rounds were completed on the day.

However, this is not a normal year and with hunting curtailed in many parts of the country both by Covid and insurance issues, many hunts did not stage their hunter trials at all. Many hunters were let out early but despite that, over 400 individual rounds were jumped on the course last weekend which was designed and built by David Lalor and his hard working team of Laois Hunt members.

By all accounts, the day was a great success, staged in beautiful spring weather with the parklands in Stradbally making for an idyllic backdrop. JJ Bolger of the Kilkenny Foxhounds took home a haul of rosettes, wining both the open and the open pairs with Gillian Cody, also Kilkenny, making up the team.

Having shown it can be done, hopefully other hunts will follow the lead give by the Laois and revive their hunter trials and other non-hunting activity between this and next season. D.P.

Laois Hunter Trial results

Pony Pairs

1, Robin and Alison Maher (Laois)

2, Pippa Dunne and Lucy Bagnell (Kildare)

3, Sarah Kelly and Charlotte Roe (Laois)

Best Laois hunt member(s): Robyn and Alison Maher (Laois) (3)

Pony Singles

1, Gearoid Farrell (Kilkenny)

2, Elana Bailey (Carlow)

3, Olivia Onions (Laois)

4, Kate Walsh (Carlow)

5, Pippa Dunne (Kildare)

Best Laois hunt member: Olivia Onions (Laois) (No 5)

Novice Pairs

1, Katie and Mia Brown (Newcastle Lyons PC)

2, Marina Bolton and Aoife Bolton (West Wicklow)

3, Rachel and Gearoid Farrell (Kilkenny)

4, Lily and Robin O’Reilly (Tipperary Harriers)

5, Emma and Jill Carberry (Ward)

Best parent and child: Marina Bolton and Aoife Bolton (West Wicklow) (No 16)

Best Laois hunt member: PJ Lawlor and Andrena Purcell (No 17)

Novice Singles

1, Mia Brown (Newcastle Lyons)

2, Doreen Bates (Laois)

3, Brian Cush (Wicklow)

4, Rachel Brown (Wexford)

5, Sean Morrin (Newcastle Lyons)

Best Laois hunt member: Cameron Cleland (Laois) (No 41)

Teams of three

1, Tara Wakeham and Mark O’Connor (Wexford) and Eve King (Carlow)

2, Heather and Faye McLoughlin and Aishling Rice (Ward)

3, Gillian Phipps Sandra Phipps and Joanna Phibbs (Kildare)

4, Robin and Ellie Maher and Emma Dunne (Laois)

Intermediate Singles

1, Lucy Martin (Kildare)

2, Jeremy Cairns (Nth Tipperary)

3, Emily Cody (Mullinavat)

4, Lucy Martin (Kildare)

5, Karen Mooney (Sth Co Dublin)

Best Laois hunt member: Robyn Maher (Laois) (No 15)

Open Pairs

1, Gillian Cody and JJ Bolger (Kilkenny)

2, Cathal Giltrap and Aishling Byrne (Sth Co Dublin)

Open Singles

1, J J Bolger (Kilkenny)

2, Ian Quinlan (Ward Union)

3, Ellie Spain (Nth Tipperary)

4, Sophie O’Neill (West Wicklow)

5, Jeremy Cairns (Nth Tipperary)