THE Duggan family, together with their well-oiled organising team, can give themselves a deserved pat on the back, as last week’s international event at Millstreet was deemed as one of the best yet. Staged over four days of almost unbroken sunshine, the competition delivered in spades to produce a quartet of brilliant home victories, and gain accolades from all who took part.
As British international Harry Meade remarked: “This is the reason we all started eventing – to be able to ride around courses like this. The facilities here trump any event in the UK, and not just because of the spectacular main ring and the endless warm-up arenas, but the park itself, which is the most horse-friendly, galloping site we could wish for, and one that maybe worthy of a world championship.”
Meade also echoed riders’ views when speaking of the ground conditions. “We have all suffered with the firm ground this season, but the team here at Millstreet have worked tirelessly to produce the best possible footing we could have hoped for.”
This last comment will have been especially rewarding to Thomas Duggan, who since the event’s inception has made the ground his priority. In order to produce consistently good going, he set in motion an ongoing programme of turf care, which is clearly paying off.
Reflecting on the event as a whole, Duggan was delighted at the outcome to comment: “Everyone is pleased, so we are pleased.” He said: “We have had a good compliment of overseas riders, among which were a number of young riders from the British Development squad, all of which went well.”
Looking to the future, Duggan has already announced that he only plans to stage one international event fixture each year, and last weekend he confirmed that this would occupy the June date.
“We are looking forward to the event next spring, which will provide a good build up both for the Paris Olympics, as well as the European championships.”
Of course, the big stories are competition centred, and Sian Coleman’s home win in the feature Horse Sport Ireland CCI4*-L crowned a rewarding week for the home nation. Riding for Kate Jarvey, Coleman’s performance on the home-bred Hush A Bye Baby was sheer class, while Johnathan Steele’s victory in the CCI2*-L was a fairy tale for connections. Ian Cassells’ domination of the national circuit, moved up a gear when he claimed the CCI3*-S, and finally Carla Williamson racked up her first international win in the CCIP2*.
Summing up, Irish riders landed four of the nine international titles on offer, sharing the honours with the British, while Australian Olympian Kevin McNab lifted one.