THE dense fog which caused the abandonment of racing at Punchestown on Sunday didn’t have the same effect further north at Greenogue Equestrian where the Horse Sport Ireland autumn development series got back on track as national dressage came out of Level 5 restrictions.
Among the first to arrive at the south Co Dublin venue were Dressage Ireland board member Mark Ruddock and the organisation’s administration officer Jane Averill who commented: “There was some fog around when we got there at 7am but, at that stage, the biggest worry was frost. However, the team at Greenogue, who had worked on the arenas until 10 the night before, were out harrowing the arenas and spreading salt around the car-park. It was thanks to them that we started, and ended, on time.”
Earlier in the week, the show organisers had to await confirmation from Horse Sport Ireland that the qualifier could take place and they were delighted when getting the go-ahead. They were also pleased that elite and high-performance riders from the Northern Region were allowed travel down to Greenogue where they won three classes.
While, on the day, it appeared that Courtney Stuart had recorded a double, it transpired that the runaway ‘winner’, Favorino, had accumulated too many points to contest the Preliminary.
The Bangor rider’s sole success therefore came in the Liam Maloney-judged Advanced where she topped the scoring on 71.81% with the eight-year-old Bretton Woods stallion HH Empire. Dressage Ireland chair Marguerite Kavanagh finished second here on Fidette (68.75).
Stuart also rode Favorino in the Bernie Foley-judged Novice where, on 73.06%, the combination filled the runner-up slot behind Category 1 rider Floyd Mills with the six-year-old San Liberty mare San Tiaga (73.39). The bay, who is registered with the Anglo European Studbook, is out of the Dutch Warmblood mare Tatjana R, a daughter of Donnerman.
Northern Region chair Joan Adrain recorded a narrow victory in the Michael Moore-judged Advanced Medium qualifier where she and her nine-year-old Lord Of Loxely gelding Goldwin (68.97) took the honours ahead of the Midland and Western Region member Catriona Curran on board Dancing Espri (68.85).
Vision Sport Horses’ Carolyn Mellor also struck for the Northern Region when she and her nine-year-old Glock’s Voice gelding VSH Gouverneur M (70.54%) saw off the challenge of their sole rivals, Rachel Dowley on Cadens (65.87), in the fog-shrouded Grand Prix.
Vida Tansey judged that class and also had just two combinations come before her in the Intermediare II where Horse Sport Ireland’s underage dressage high-performance manager, Anne Marie Dunphy, posted a comfortable success with her Hanoverian mare Her Highness Willow (66.62), a 14-year-old daughter of His Highness. Simone Hession was second on Beezies Big Brother (55.29).
Tansey also assessed the four combinations forward in the Intermedaire I where she awarded her top score of 70% to Tara Oliver and her Hanoverian gelding Furst Romance who is a nine-year-old by Furst Romancier out of a His Highness mare.
David Freeney finished a close second here with his own and Stephen Byrne’s CLS Bram (69.85%) and, in the Tansey-judged Prix St George, the Co Wicklow-based rider turned the tables on Oliver as he and the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding topped the standings on 71.91 while his rival scored 67.94. This was the same score achieved by Stuart on HH Empire but Oliver got the nod with the higher collective mark.
Kate Dwyer recorded another success in the six-year-old Irish-bred Elementary series when comfortably topping Liam Maloney’s scores on Sunday with the Dermot Cannon-bred mare Harmony (78.28). The bay daughter of Blue Hors Hotline is out of the Florestan I mare Florestina L. Niamh Nolan placed second with Toberpatrick Tom Boy (67.76).
Dwyer also won the non-restricted 14-runner Elementary class on Harmony but here she had to share the honours with Sean Burgess and the Oldenburg gelding Fig, a 10-year-old by Fidertanz. Michael Moore had the pair on a score of 77.24% and the same collective mark of 62.
Burgess with Fig (72.50%) and Dwyer with Vaalserberg (71.62) had to settle for second and third in the Medium qualifier where Liam Maloney awarded his top score of 76.47 to European pony team members Cillian Curran and the Dutch-bred 15-year-old Welsh gelding Blokland’s Hoeve’s Amor (by Orchard Boginov).