FOLLOWING a busy week at the Irish Breeders’ Classic, Barnadown Showjumping in Co Wexford opened its gates to the two-day International Pony Club Mounted Games competition with teams travelling from all over to take part.
The senior competition got off to a lovely sunny start on Saturday morning with eight teams competing. Many of these senior teams had played against each other on the last occasion at the RDS so the rivalry was high.
The Tipperarys got off to an amazing start and began to win the majority of the games throughout Saturday, leaving them in a good position heading into Sunday and eventually finishing on a winning score of 162.
The Shilleagh Branch took second place on 137, ahead of the Meaths on 127. Adding to the international element, there was a team from The Pony Club in Northern Ireland, while three English competitors joined a team with two Galway members.
The Tipperary team was made up of two sets of siblings in Max O’Reilly and Lily O’Reilly, and Anna O’Callaghan and George O’Callaghan, joined by Emily Fox.
Pony games are very much a family occasion with all the team having siblings competing in the Junior and U10 competitions over the same weekend.
The Tipperary U10 team finished second after being knocked from first place during the final stages. The U10 team was made up of Lily and Max’s two sisters - Robyn and Fern O’Reilly – as well as David English and Dave Hennessy.
Another victory for Carlows
Winners of the Pony Club Championships earlier in the year, the Carlow team returned to clinch another victory in Barnadown. The team of Katie Foley (Ellie), Lilly Hatton (Piper), Cillian Tobin (Molly) and Conor Buckely (Luka) managed to pull out all the stops on Saturday to give themselves a good shot of the final.
On Sunday, things didn’t go according to plan for the Carlow team but their experience showed as they took the win after some calculated riding.
There was little between the standings, with just three points separating first and second place. In the end, second and third place was decided when the Iveagh and Shillelagh competed in a tiebreaker, the two flag race. In the end, Shillelagh took the runner-up spot ahead of the Iveagh in third, Laois in fourth, and the British team of Wylye Valley in fifth. Winners of the B final were the Duhallow Team.
The Under 10 Pony Club Games have been hotly contested all year by a field of very talented up and coming young children. Wicklow have proved themselves to be the team to beat having won the majority of competitions throughout the year and, while they certainly didn’t get it all their own way, they eventually came out on top in Barnadown after two days of competition.
The competition was made up of four sessions of games played over two days with the scores accumulating after each session and carried forward to the next. The Tipperarys were the team who had the most consistent performance on day one and they were in the lead by a six points heading into Sunday.
The weather on Sunday grew progressively worse and the final was played in torrential rain. The conditions made it very difficult for all involved but the Wicklow team of Laragh Molloy on Woody, Ellie Sheane on Spot, Matilda Wall on Goldie, Nell McDonnell on Patches and Louisa Smyth on Pugsey seemed to rise to the occasion and secured victory when finishing 12 points clear of Tipperary.
Wicklow coach Mary Molloy said: “I’m extremely proud of the girls, they are having a great year but this weekend has really tested them and we have never had to work as hard or be as resilient to take the win. This definitely made it all the sweeter.”
Other strong performances came in from Duhallow who finished in third place and Wexford, Carlow and Shillelagh who finished in fourth, fifth and sixth places, respectively.