ONE family, two Breeders’ Championship titles at the one Dublin Show - that’s the gauntlet thrown down for future owners to match after the Wafer family’s magnificent double last Friday.
Of course it was an unprecedented double as this was the first year of the broodmare and foal combination championship being divided into eventing and show jumping sections, but it was also a remarkable double for Patrick Wafer’s Parkmore Evita.
The winning mare here three years ago, the 12-year-old returned with Parkmore Tyra, a full-sister to the 2019 winning foal, Parkmore Tyson, to claim yet another title and Evita now retires as one of the all-time big winners of the Irish showring.
Show jumping section
All eight qualified combinations turned up in Ring 1 for the opening half; the show jumping section and with the triangle experiment dispensed with, it was back to the traditional walk down-trot back format for the judges; French breeder Jean-Luc Dufour judging alongside Dutch vet, breeder and stallion master Jan Greve to pick their prize-winners from.
Topping the eventual line-up was Linda Wafer’s Hot To Touch, the mare bought for her and husband Maurice’s children, Conor and Katie, to compete with in junior and Children on Horses classes.
The pandemic meant she went to the breeding paddock instead and the pair got to lead her at Dublin, Conor in the final and Katie in the champions parade after she qualified at Armagh with the resultant foal: a Quality Time colt.
By the KWPN sire Lancelot out of Touch Base, by the traditionally bred Irish Sport Horse stallion John Henry, Hot To Touch was bred by Gina O’Brien.
“Fantastic win with her first foal and made extra special having the third Parkmore generation involved in showing at the RDS,” Linda, their thrilled mother, commented afterwards.
Derry Rothwell’s consistent Greenhall Catwalk, third in 2019, edged one place closer to the top when she and her Dignified van’t Zorgvliet colt took the reserve place. The Mermus R chesnut’s dam and grandam - Millennium Cruise and Greenhall Cailin Deas - were both previous winners.
Taking third place was Des and Margaret Jeffares’ Ballykelly Notalot, another by Lancelot and the young horse champion here in 2015 with her Diarado colt, Ballykelly Mac Diarado.
Liam Lynskey’s DS Bounce With Me Baby, the Irish Draught champion mare the previous day, was bidding to become the first pure-bred Draught mare to win since Patrick Wafer’s Parkmore Jewel back in 1990 but settled for fourth.
In fifth place was John Mulconroy’s 1.50m mare Diamonds For Douglas with her eye-catching light grey colt by Zirocco VDL.
The result of the following eventing section saw Parkmore Evita join a small group of two-time winning dams, with Paddy Quirke’s Golden Sunset, Ronald McCombe’s Springfield Lady Nell, J.J Hurst’s My Irish Bride VII, Kieran O’Gorman’s Kildysert Royale and the Roche family’s Assagart My Only Hope being the other dual title queens.
The win also meant her Carnew owner-breeder Patrick Wafer now matches his Wickow neighbour Derry Rothwell with three Breeders’ Championship titles apiece for the pair after Evita and Parkmore Tyra, her Tyson filly, won the new eventing section.
The champions qualified at Charleville, where both the Horse Sport Ireland broodmare championship there and the €3,000 first prize last Friday adds to Parkmore Evita’s earnings.
However, the possibility of the Ghareeb-Coolcorran Cool Diamond home-bred matching the record of Springfield Lady Nell - the only three-time winning mare - has ended.
“Evita will retire on this high note. She has done it all in fairness - Dublin [Coote Cup] champion, Balmoral champion, All Ireland champion and Breeders’ twice. The Banner broodmare championship two weeks ago was a nice win too,” said Patrick’s nephew Maurice, who with his equally delighted brother Seamus showed the winning pair on their final showring outing.
“An incredible achievement for two mares who share the one paddock,” remarked Patrick.
This year’s reserve champion was Danielle and Louise Cusack’s Hallowberry Destiny, the winning mare in 2018. The Ramiro B mare again had a foal at foot by the family’s own stallion Clonaslee Captain Cristo and qualified at Armagh, which had the distinction of all four qualified combinations from this qualifying host show, being placed in the final.
Third was another Armagh representative: the Rothwell’s Greenhall Push Button and like her stable, companion, Catwalk, the Financial Reward mare also had a Dignified van’t Zorgvliet foal at foot.
Keeping up Ghareeb’s formidable strike rate in this championship was John Burchill’s Slatequarry Sasha, the 2016 champion for ex-owner Paula Howard and the second Tyson filly foal in the line-up: Haven Hi Hope.
In fifth place was another Breeders Championship newcomer, Anthony Gill, who had some compensation for missing the earlier filly championship in the preceding young horse championships, when his O.B.O.S Quality mare Future Girl and her Colandro foal finished in the ribbons.
“There was a big difference between the classes, you could see what was what. Naturally there was more blood types in the eventing [section],” Dutch vet Greve commented afterwards, adding: “They’ve changed in type from what they were years ago, after breeding with the European warmbloods. You’re catching up, for sure.”
While the introduction of the seperate show jumping and eventing sections was widely welcomed by the exhibitors, there was speculation that the show jumping section in future years would be based on a combination of points for the mare’s own performance record and judging on the day.
A good idea in theory, although whether the numbers are there to support show jumping qualifiers remains to be seen.
The other talking point amongst exhibitors was the fact that the other three finalist combinations were left standing at the end of the line “like spare parts”, as one disappointed exhibitor described the experience, while the top-five were reassessed or sent for another walk around before the eventual result.
Recalling the era of past champions, from Paddy Quirke’s Golden Sunset, the original champion in 1985, is an opportune time to pay tribute to the late Nicholas O’Hare. His exceptional reports, before the instant and often subjective results of the social media era, chart the history and development of Thady Ryan’s brainchild: the Breeders’ Championship. (See Obituary on 102).