ON a brilliant weekend for Irish equestrianism at underage level, members of the Irish Pony Club played their part when dominating the Senior Regional Tetrathlon in south-east England.

In this regional competition, where the ride phase was over a challenging cross-country course rather than the international option of a show jumping track, the IPC squads filled the first three places in the girls’ competition and were first and third in the boys’ event.

The Ireland Celts team of Aine Murray (Longford Branch), Holly Hutchinson (Warington), Lucy Hogan (Cavan) and Ruth Fogarty (Carlow) won on a total of 16,056 points ahead of Ireland Shamrock (15,874) and Ireland Harp (15,754) with Ireland Claddagh fifth on 14,897. Fifteen teams started.

Hogan won the Open Girls’ competition with 4,213 points having held on to all of her 1,400 points across the country. Only five others matched this feat in the ride phase including Kildare’s Lucy Martin and Wexford’s Heidi Hoff. Hogan was also third in the swim (1,090) but only 10th in the run phase won by Kildare’s Ellie Dillon (1,027 points) with the Island’s Caoilfhionn Ni Nuallain placing second (1,018).

Two of the nine boys’ teams in the regional competition ran under the Ireland banner with the winning quartet being the Gold squad of Caolan Costello (Wexford), Feargal de Bara (Clare), Jamie Hargaden (Carlow) and William Verling (West Waterford) who accumulated a total of 16,947 points. The Pony Club’s Southern Spartans finished second on 16,685 with Ireland Green next best on 16,044.

Verling won the individual boys’ title on 4,462 points, mainly thanks to his win in the run phase which earned him 1,171 points and his fourth-place finish in the swim (1,159) where the Limerick Branch’s Sean Alfred was second on 1,165. Verling lost 28 points across the country with the full 1,400 points being retained by eight riders including the Ward Union’s Jed Collins, who finished fourth overall (4,314), and Wicklow’s Robert Cherry.

Win for Irish squad

In the International competition, which had five members per team, the Ireland Gold squad of Costello, De Barra, Hargaden, Cherry and Verling were comprehensive winners on 16,993 points ahead of Ireland Emerald (16,052) and Ireland Green (16,044). Again, Verling filled the top spot individually on 4,340 but this time leading home Hargaden (4,336) in second.

The four IPC teams in the girls’ international competition didn’t fare as well with Ellie Dillon recording the highest individual placing in fifth.

Anyone remotely acquainted with the man would know how much these results mean to the IPC’s passionate chairman of Tetrathlon, John Flood, who praised all the Irish participants for their talent, dedication and commitment to training while thanking their parents, guardians and coaches for their support.

He also paid tribute to the many volunteers needed to run Tetrathlon events such as the IPC/Audi Naas national championships which take place this weekend with the swimming and shooting phases being staged today at the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown and the neighbouring Corduff Sports Centre. The running and cross-country ride phases take place tomorrow at Punchestown racecourse.