Connemara performance classes

UNLIKE most of the 2021 Dublin Horse Show programme, the RDS Connemara performance hunter national championships were one of few events which went ahead last year, with qualifiers taking place at each of the four Young Eventhorse Series venues before the final was held at Lambertstown in August.

The five to seven-year-old championship was won, by the slenderest of margins, by the Charlie Mangan-owned and ridden Galtee Donald. This 2016 Kinvara Boy gelding has since changed hands and is now ridden by Alisha Vard for her mother Yvonne. The combination didn’t qualify for the performance championship and, instead, will compete in the 153cms working hunter class. They have, however, qualified for the Horse of the Year Show in October.

The Edel Whyte-partnered Sleehaun Ninja finished on the same score as Galtee Donald in the 2021 finale but lost out on being declared champion as his rival’s round of the Derby track at Lambertstown was closer to the optimum time. This year, Whyte and her father Gerry’s home-bred Manninard Abel gelding moved on to the Junior/Young Rider event horse circuit and, while they didn’t qualify for Dublin, owner and rider were delighted with the grey who is just a six-year-old.

Kilpatrick Cascade, who won the older Connemara qualifier under Co Limerick’s Aoife Kirby, is also in a new yard this year and ridden by Karolina Kerins, daughter of Tattersalls Ireland CEO Simon Kerins, has been show jumping and competing in Pony Club activities for the Kildare Branch as the combination get to know one another.

This year’s qualifiers proved just as popular as ever with 78 combinations taking on the Derby track at Forth Mountain before 63 did so at Tullylish. Just short of 100 rounds of jumping were recorded in the Connemara performance qualifiers at Scarteen with 72 ponies starting at Rincoola. Those who managed to qualify for the Berney Bros Saddlery-sponsored championships will appear late on Thursday morning in Ring 2.