THE first Dressage Ireland Northern Region show of 2023 was held last Sunday at Connell Hill where, as at the flexi-eventing qualifier the previous day at The Meadows, there was a large number of withdrawals because of the weather and road conditions.

Using the motorway systems all the way, Dermot Cannon was able to fulfil his engagement at the Co Antrim equestrian centre where he judged 10 classes although five of these had just the one starter apiece. Courtney Stuart recorded an uncontested Advanced Medium double with her eight-year-old Follow Me gelding Favorino who scored 67.74% in the FEI Junior Individual test and 66.21 in the Team test.

Others to win unchallenged were Jill Hobson and her Irish Sport Horse mare Furisto Seven For A Secret (57.92%) in the Advanced, Lucinda Blakiston Houston on her Hanoverian gelding Happy Feet 3 (64.71) in the Prix St George and Lisa Dundee riding her Dutch Warmblood gelding Deja Vu Roundthorn (63.38) in the Intermediate 1.

Cannon had more to do in the lower graded classes and was faced by six combinations in both the Elementary BD55 and the Medium BD69.

The highest score in the former was recorded by Category 2 rider Zara Wood on board Kirsty Jackson’s ISH gelding Charming Lad (65.32) while Category 3 rider Lucy Adams claimed the honours in the Medium BD69 on her New Forest gelding Esdals King W.A. (68.48). In the four-runner Medium BD76, Adams and her bay son of Reekamps Eclips had to settle for second (67.12) behind Lana Cheney and her Belgian Warmblood gelding Confession Z (67.42).

Four pairings also came before Cannon in the Elementary BD45 where Wood and Charming Lad were beaten into second (65.52) by Christine Newton and her ISH gelding Runaway Rebel (66.90). The List 1 judge also assessed the three pairings forward in the Novice DI21, awarding his highest score of 66.03 to Kerry Taylor and her smart six-year-old grey gelding, Ballylinney Max.

Martina McKinley, who had been on duty at The Meadows on Saturday, was scheduled to judge two classes here but, following the withdrawal of all three entries in the Intro B, just had to focus on the 14-strong Preliminary BD15.

She awarded her top score of 73.80% to Lisa Dundee on Patricia Connon’s home-bred ISH mare RoundThorn Nice N Easy, a five-year-old daughter of Formidable.

Coreen Abernethy judged the remaining four classes and had Taylor topping her marks in the Preliminary DI5A on board Ballylinney Max (71.07). Remarkably, Dundee finished joint-second on RoundThorn Nice N Easy and Elaine Dennison’s Irish Draught mare Castlview Inisfree Lady who were both on 70.18 with a similar collective of 63.5.

With a better collective score, Jacky Reid saw off Dundee riding Dunkeeran to win the Novice BD38 on the Connemara gelding Tooreen Hugo (68.39) while there were uncontested victories for Robyn McMurray and the ISH gelding Rocco Banana Man (67.86) in the Junior Preliminary DI5A and for the same combination in the Junior Novice DI21 where they scored 66.55.