THE Irish Pony Club sent its largest squad ever to the British Pony Club’s International Junior Tetrathlon competition last weekend and was rewarded with its best ever result in the event which, this year, was held at Moreton Morrell College in Warwickshire.

“The weather was miserable but we had a great weekend as we never won as much!” said the IPC’s chairman of Tetrathlon, John Flood. “The British marking system has an emphasis on shooting, and is less rewarding towards swimmers and runners as ours, while their ride time is much tighter, a 100 metres a minute faster, and this year’s course was horrendously technical.”

Travel problems

Following a lot of training over the winter and a selection competition in mid-March, the IPC members showed that they had lost none of their enthusiasm for Tetrathlon because of the pandemic. However, one of the first problems they had to overcome were the new equine travel arrangements, with their extra expenses, introduced because of Brexit.

In spite of these, 44 competitors, their mounts and support teams made their way across the Irish Sea to attend the first International Junior Tetrathlon held since the onset of Covid and their efforts proved worthwhile as the Sean Sargent-managed squad dominated the team competitions.

The Irish girls filled the first four places in a starting field of 16, with another team finishing 11th, while the Irish boys finished first, second, fourth and fifth in a far smaller division.

Top four

Counting the top four scores from five in the girls’ division, the winners on 17,328 points were the Irish Gillard quintet of Ellie Dillon (Kildare), Amelie Henson (South Westmeath), Molly Hennessy (Wexford), Emma Hickey (Wexford) and Caroline Roche (Duhallow). In second were Irish Watson (17,025) ahead of Irish Freeman (16,626) and Irish Firr (16,520).

In finishing third on 15,495 points, the Central Cobras prevented an Irish whitewash of the boys’ team competition where the honours, with 16,780 points, went to the Irish Gold squad of John Asple-James (Island), Peter Verling (West Waterford), Jamie Hargaden (Carlow), Sonny McCartan (Co Limerick) and Peter Galligan (Wicklow). Irish Green slotted into second (16,243) with Irish White placing fourth (15,037). Only five point-scoring teams competed.

Individual win for Quinn

When it came to individual performances, IPC members filled the first five places in the girls’ competition where few points separated the first four in particular. Topping the leaderboard on 4,367 was Grace Quinn (Leitrim), followed by Duhallow’s Ella Lombard (4,364), Emma Hickey (4,361), Ellie Dillon (4,356) and Caroline Roche (4,319).

There was a more mixed result in the boys’ individual competition which was won by Scotland’s Charlie Burns on 4,439 points. Peter Verling finished second (4,423) ahead of Wales & Borders’ Oliver Loud (4,402), Sonny McCartan (4,297) and Wales & Borders’ Harry Taylor (4,287).

The top four boys all claimed their full 1,400 points in the ride phase but, of the top four girls, only Quinn and Dillon were fully clear. In total, of the 38 starters in the boys’ section, just six were clear inside the time, Kildare’s Daniel Sargent joining Verling and McCartan as one of the Irish who did so. Of the 90 starters in the girls’ division, seven were clear inside the time with Sinead Greene (South Westmeath) and Lucy Martin (Kildare) matching the efforts of Quinn and Dillon.

The Irish squad were coached over the winter in the ride by Jo Breheny who was on hand to do course walks, etc. at Moreton Morrell. In addition to being delighted with the IPC result in England, Jo had the added pleasure of having her home-bred Limmerick mare LEB Lias Jewel finish second in the CCI4*-S class at Millstreet. The 12-year-old was partnered by former Tynagh Branch member, and European and World medal-winner, Cathal Daniels.

Brassil scholarship

Former Irish Pony Club Tetrathlete Sive Brassil, who represented the East Galway Branch – and the IPC – with much distinction during her Pony Club days and now competes for Ireland in Modern Pentathlon, has been awarded a Paris scholarship by the Olympic Federation of Ireland. See pages 84/85 for details.