THE final of the Horse Sport Ireland affiliate combined training challenge was held last Sunday at CoilOg and, while yet to be convinced that those promoting women in sport pay any attention to equestrianism, it should be noted that all four classes were won by female riders.

As has been the case at some qualifiers, causing confusion at times, the normal format of dressage and show jumping was followed with no cross-country type fences being ‘incorporated’ as suggested in the series conditions. A lot of rails hit the deck and that after Chris and Gwen Byrne and their team had started the day by first rebuilding the two show jumping tracks, and two dressage arenas, which had been flattened overnight by the wind and rain.

The two lower level finals were won by senior riders on young horses, while at EI100 and EI110 level, younger riders on older, more experienced horses came to the fore.

In the eight-runner EI80 final, the only combinations to complete on their dressage scores were the winners, Linda Murphy on Shirsheen Rocketman (29.75 penalties), and the Co Galway raiders Marjorie Hardiman and her daughter Lara Field, who placed fourth and fifth respectively on their Máirín Cassidy-awarded scores with the home-bred pair Creganna Dandini (32.5) and Creganna Milady (32.75).

Georgina Pettit, finished second (31.25), having had a fence down show jumping with the dressage phase winner, the Connemara gelding Ballyerk Lover, while Co Cork’s Wayne Santry also picked up four show jumping penalties to finish third with the ex-racehorse Ye Chancer Ye (32).

Shirsheen Rocketman, a four-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by OBOS Quality 004, was bred in Co Tipperary by Andrew Hodgins out of the Concorde mare Mangerton Lady Saoirse. He is owned by Co Wexford-based Murphy and her long time supporter and good friend Rita Morgan.

“We bought him privately from Padraic Corcoran who had him broken, riding and nicely produced,” said Murphy of the attractive bay. “We think a lot of Shirsheen Rocketman and he’s a horse that could go either show jumping or eventing; we’ll see how the year progresses and make a plan then for him from there. I had only taken him to Wexford Equestrian to a jumping show and then he did the qualifier in Barnadown which he also won. He’s a very exciting horse and I’m looking forward to producing him.”

There were a dozen starters in the EI90 final of whom eight finished on their dressage scores. Leading the way throughout was Louise Bloomer on her own and Jinnie Webb’s ISH gelding Shannondale Levi (25.75 penalties). They finished ahead of Emily Marnane and the well-known Connemara/working hunter pony Danny’s Pride (29.75) and Gemma Goodrich and her ISH mare, Remember Bea (30).

Clodie Coen won the EI110 final with Union Fortunus \ Sagittarian Photography


Bred in Co Clare by Mary Walsh, Shannondale Levi is by Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan and, being out of the Cavalier Royale mare Shannondale Melodie, is a five-year-old full-brother of the 2007 gelding Shannondale Mel (CIC3*) plus Bloomer and Webb’s 2012 gelding Shannondale Icarus (CCI4*-S).

“I had dibs on Levi since his conception!” Bloomer told the Irish Horse World while busily organising a St Patrick’s Day show at her family’s Brennanstown Riding School in Co Wicklow. “We did the Stepping Stones at Wexford Equestrian last year, finishing third in the four-year-old final and fifth in the league, and then did the Young Eventhorse Series where we placed third in the league.

“As I injured my back, he had an easy time after that which really suited him well as he’s still growing. I’ll probably do the Stepping Stones and Young Eventhorse Series again with him this year but, as am not keen on pushing my young horses, I’ll wait and see if I event him this year. If I knew HSI were going to sponsor the arena eventing next winter, I’d keep him going for that.”

Good fortune for Coen

Second after dressage (28 penalties), Clodie Coen, who is based at Brennanstown, won the EI110 final with her new ride for the season, Union Fortunus.

The 18-year-old and her father Martin’s ISH gelding were left in front when Co Waterford’s Meabh Bolger dropped to second having had a fence down show jumping on the highly regarded Back To Back (31) with whom she had won the Dermot Cannon-judged dressage phase. Emma Egan moved up from fourth to third when leaving all the poles intact with her ISH gelding, Marino (31).

Bred in Co Sligo by Stanley Nairn out of the Clover Hill mare Connaught Gold (dam also of the Legal Pressure gelding Grass Valley (CCI4*)), Union Fortunus did a small bit of show jumping here in 2012 with Cathal McMunn before being sold to Britain where he competed up to CCI3*-L level under Phoebe Locke. He had two outings last season at two-star level with Swiss rider Teresa Stokar.

“I was delighted for Clodie!” said Bloomer. “She had a hard time last year when her horse (Ballinglen Susies Master) unfortunately went lame towards the end of Junior selection. She has clicked very well with Union Fortunus and is very excited to start eventing him (the combination is due to run hors concours in the EI100 at Blackstairs today).”

Cannon also judged Sunday’s EI100 final where Co Galway’s Eimear Nee led throughout on another well-known Connemara performance pony, Catriona Clancy’s Charlie Of Blakehill, who won and was placed at EI100 (Junior) level in 2019 and 2020 under Finn Curran. Nee and the 14-year-old Coosheen Stormboy gelding, who was bred by Joan Clancy out of the Champion Bob mare, Atlantic Lady Joan, compete in interschools competitions for Clifden Community School.

Tom Nestor placed second on the 17-year-old bay gelding Freddie (25.5), on whom he rounded off last season with two EI110 (P) wins, and the young Kildare rider also finished joint-third with the Connemara mare, Tullaree Ruby Tuesday (26). Senior Co Waterford rider Ciara Power shared that third spot on her ISH mare, Rossmount Aldi Hero.

Winner of the EI100 final was Eimear Nee and Charlie of Blakehill \ Sagittarian Photography