ALTHOUGH Saturday was a non-qualifying session, there was still another good entry for all three disciplines at the Baileys Horse Feeds flexi-eventing competition at The Meadows.
FEI Level 4 judge Joanne Jarden, who was on hand to represent Treo Eile at the presentation of prizes, had a thoroughbred at the top of her leaderboard in the Pre Novice dressage section where, in a field of 26 starters, she awarded two scores over 70%.
The winning horse was the unraced Belle Saru (73.5%) who is competed under Eventing Ireland rules by joint-owner, Caroline McQuillan, but here was ridden by her other joint-owner, McQuillan’s sister Rosemary Bellew who was making her flexi-eventing debut.
As a member of Border Counties Riding Club teams, Bellew finished second on the 2016 Sageburg mare in both the AIRC eventing championships and the dressage challenge at the AIRC Festival last year while McQuillan partnered her to win the EI100 (Amateur) title at the Horse Sport Ireland/Eventing Ireland’s national championships at Lisgarvan House in September.
Kaiti McCann finished second with her father Martin’s very consistent 14-year-old skewbald mare Boyher Cookies N Creme (71%) on whom she finished seventh in the league with 46 points.
As she had a day off competing with Dressage Ireland, Jacky Reid took on the judging duties for the sole Intro class, in which there were 36 starters. Reid reserved her highest score for Portadown’s Jonathan West riding Orla Sheehan’s veteran eventer, the Irish Sport Horse gelding Monmurry Sovereign (75%).
West has been competing the 21-year-old Accondy gelding under Eventing Ireland rules since the spring of 2021 and they have recorded numerous placings in EI90 (Amateur) classes. On Saturday, their nearest rivals were the consistent pairing of Nicola Martin and her Irish Draught mare Dundrum Misty Blue (74.5), the five-year-old Killinick Bouncer grey on whom she placed 12th in the league (37 points).
Joanne Jarden also judged the Novice and Intermediate classes, awarding her only score over 70% in the Novice to former multiple flexi-eventing champions, Dennis Currie and the ISH gelding Arodstown Aramis (71.8). Currie and his 18-year-old Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan bay, who were clear in the 1.10m show jumping, finished the league in second spot on 61.5 points.
Laura McKillan just failed to breach the 70% mark when she had to settle for second on Hayley Cunningham’s 15-year-old bay gelding, Embarcadero (69.5).
Currie’s bid for a double in the six-strong Intermediate class fell short when he and ‘Troy’ had to settle for second on 71.2% behind the runaway winner, flexi-eventing debutant Casey Webb and the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, April’s Pacino Time (77.3), a 10-year-old daughter of Pacino.
This combination rounded off last season when placing 10 of 43 in the CCI3*-S at Millstreet in April. Webb credits her success to intensive training during the winter with Alan Dewhurst, originally from Gilford but now based in Scotland.