THE former three-time National Champion, Laragh O’Grady, paid her first visit to the Horseware Wild Atlantic Dressage Festival last weekend and came away with positive impressions of the organisation and venue plus the Beezies Stud Small Tour Championship prizes.


Riding her Irish Sport Horse gelding, Mullentine Emerald Wolfe Tone, O’Grady topped the combined leaderboards after both Saturday’s Prix St George (67.87%), judged by Britain’s Gwyneth Lewis and Dermot Cannon, and Sunday’s Intermediaire I (67.86), judged by Britain’s Sarah Leitch and Cannon for a Small Tour average of 67.87.

Sarah Mellor finished second on her 12-year-old Hotline mare Hotshot (66.58) with Jenny Heffernan slotting into third on her Dutch Warmblood gelding De Keizer KN (65.11), a 14-year-old bay by Vivaldi.

“It was a great show and a super venue and fair play to Simone (Hession) for pulling it all together,” said O’Grady. “The last time I was down this part of the world was to collect ‘Wolfe Tone’ who I purchased locally as a just-broken four-year-old. Funny enough, when I got the horse home after buying him, I discovered he had been bred quite close to me!

“Wolfe Tone had plenty of success coming up through the grades while last year he won the PSG title at the National Championships at Barnadown where he was reserve in the Intermediaire I. Last December, we won the PSG final of the Horse Sport Ireland autumn development series and just last month, we won the Small Tour Championship at the National Winter Finals in Necarne.

“As I work full-time in quite a demanding job as an accountant with Kingspan, I keep Wolfe Tone on livery with Denise Kelly outside Newry. He is the only horse I have as I like to focus on the one. I love riding Irish horses (her three-time National Champion partner was the Rakish Paddy mare, Claggan Roxy Music) for their attitude and trainability and also because they can be bought within my budget. I’m working Wolfe Tone towards Grand Prix level next year but, in the shorter term, I’d like to do some Small Tour internationals with him.”

O’Grady has been coached by Donie McNamara for about 20 years and she herself coaches a couple of the Northern Region event riders now and again.

Mullentine Emerald Wolfe Tone, who is by the Selle Francais stallion Jaguar Mail, was bred in Co Armagh by Heather Allen. The chesnut is out of the Cruising mare Mullentine Easy Jet, who retired to stud with 64 Show Jumping Ireland points.

Big Tour

Enfield’s Sarah Mellor won the Horseware Big Tour Championship with her 15-year-old Oldenburg mare Let’s Dance (65.03) ahead of Anne Marie Dunphy and Jo Breheny’s Hanoverian mare, Her Highness Willow (63.22).

Dunphy did claim the Advanced Medium Championship, sponsored by Belinda and Denis Brereton, with her own, Breheny-bred ISH gelding LEB Hugo (68.44), Her Highness Willow’s nine-year-old son by Woodlander Rockstar.

Reserve at that level on her grandmother Mickey Purcell’s Insticator B.S. (67.97), Carrick-On-Suir’s Rachel Dowley filled the same position in the AGS Scaffolding Services Preliminary Category 3 Championship on GFL Flashdance (68.39) behind SS Equine Service’s Sonya McCormack and her ISH gelding Coosán Lucky Guy (69.40).

This five-year-old by Loughehoe Guy was bred in Co Westmeath by Michael Curley out of the Cruise On mare Coosan West. The traditionally-bred chesnut carries nearly 72% thoroughbred blood.

To get a result for the Norris Plant Hire Young Horse Championship, the four and five-year-old results were amalgamated and here Dowley not only got her win, on the Dutch Warmblood mare GFL Nava (81.40), a four-year-old newcomer by For Romance, but she filled the reserve spot as well with GFL Flashdance (75.40), a 2018 Hanoverian gelding by Franziskus who, too, was competing at his first show. The young horses performed just the one test on Saturday but before the two British judges, Sarah Leitch and Gwyneth Lewis.