DESPITE Covid-19 restrictions, 2021 was a good year for junior, young riders and children on horses as they clocked up strong results at home and abroad. Young riders put in a strong performance in the senior ranks taking wins and placings on the National Grand Prix circuit.

Among the more notable wins recorded was Jason Foley’s victory in the final of the Horse Sport Ireland Premier Series at the Irish Breeders Classic and overall top placed young rider with MHS Jersey Girl, bred by Tom and Sinead Brennan. Runner-up in the Premier Final was Niamh McEvoy (17). It’s extremely positive for the future of the sport that young riders featured so strongly in the national classes and a credit to the system currently in place.

TRM Showjumpers Spring Tour

The season kicked off with the TRM Showjumpers Spring Tour and young riders dominated this league, going on to claim first and second place in the overall standings. Emma McEntee and MHS New York took the overall title with fellow young rider Robyn Moran taking the runner-up spot.

McEntee had a good cushion of a nine-point lead and lodged the fastest time of the jump-off in 37.09. Moran and Coolminga Inspector took overall runner-up place.

RDS National Championships

The RDS saw some very competitive action take place in the young rider ranks. In the 1.10m-1.15m, four combinations booked their place in the timed round. Last to go, Dylan Ward and Kruser DHH made up time throughout, but a tight line back to fence 14 saw him really get the upper hand to clock the winning time of 38.61. Ward was also crowned the leading young rider of the show.

In the 1.25-1.30m, 20 combinations lined-out with just two riders, Alex Finney and Abigail Boland, booking their place against the clock. Finney and Absolutely Kingmar Z took the win, clear in 33.40. Boland and The Hurricane had an unlucky four faults in 36.34 for second.

With torrential rain falling in Dublin, the RDS committee were forced to delay the start of the 1.35m-1.40m final Young Rider Championships. A deluge fell and credit must be given to all 14 riders who showed the utmost talent and professionalism in terrible weather.

Five combinations maintained clean sheets to book their place in the jump-off. Ciaran Foley’s tight line back to the penultimate oxer with Kingsborough Verdiva saw him gain valuable time as he clocked 42.78 to take victory.

The bursary was awarded to Niamh McEvoy for her results over the course of the championships. Niamh went on to have a terrific season including a win in the €6,000 1.45m Cavan Equestrian Centre Autumn Grand Prix and in the 1.40m WKD jump-off class. The Omagh student partnered Haifa OL to victory from 50 starters in a star-studded line-up.

Junior rider Ryan Sweetnam came closest with Quisto, a fraction slower to take the runner-up place. Niamh partnered Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick to yet another Cavan victory in the WKD jump-off class.

COH RDS National Championships

Children on Horses put on a great display of horsemanship in the RDS. Wexford’s Annie Boland riding the Mary Boland-owned Kahlua Du Karl took the win after opting for the daring gallop which saw her clock the winning time of 38.26.

Young Riders Championships Cavan

Riders were rewarded for their hard work with bursaries from Horse Sport Ireland and Showjumping Ireland at the Young Rider Championships at Cavan. The young rider and children on horses winners were each awarded a bursary of €2,000, sponsored by HSI, as was the Junior championships.

The 1.10m, 1.20m and 1.30m winners received a training bursary from SJI to the value of €300. 2021 was a great year for Robyn Moran and the Limerick rider secured the Young Rider National Championship crown. In the Junior National championship, Taylor Peare and Yousef Sallem both shared the title. Galway’s Tadhg Dillion’s super performance saw him secure the Children on Horses crown.

In the Young Rider National Summer overall league, claiming the one-metre was Sophie Aherne while Taylor Peare took the 1.10m. The 1.20m crown belonged to Nicola Kershaw while Robyn Moran took home the 1.30m title. The 1.10 champion was Oisin Dillion while the 1.20m champion was Ronya Benson and the 1.30m champion was Seamus Hennessy.

Following a nail-biting class, Seamus Hennessy (King Louis AE) and Eoin Brennan (Ninparo) emerged as joint winners in the 1.35m Grand Prix when they both stopped the clock in 46.82. Winner of the 1.10m JNR/YR Grand Prix was Oisin Dillion and SMC Molly, while Dylan Ward and Diamant De La Mer won the 1.20m Grand Prix.

Kilkenny’s Heather Byrne emerged victorious in the 1.10m Children on Horses Grand Prix with Golden Puissance.

Europeans Championships

An outstanding performance from the Gain Equine Nutrition Irish U21 (Young Rider) Show Jumping team saw them claim the team silver medal at the 2021 FEI European Championships at Vilamoura, Portugal. The Irish team of Kayleigh Soden (Ard Leaderman), Jack Ryan (BBS McGregor (ISH)), Sean Monaghan (Dalvaro), Harry Allen (Guinness) and Jason Foley (Clyde VA), managed by Liam Buckley, finished on a three-round total of 23.56 penalties. Belgium won team gold on 21.35 while the bronze went to Britain on 28.72.

Tom Wachman led the junior individual ranks as they headed into the final. The Irish U18 (Junior) team of Max Wachman, Caragh Charlton, Francis Derwin and Tom Wachman finish fifth of 20 teams in the team final. Tom Wachman was in gold medal position with Lady Bamford’s HHS Fireball going into the U18 individual final but had to settle for eventual fifth.

Katie Nallon put in a strong performance to finish sixth in the Children on Horses individual final. Riding Javas True Colours, a single time fault kept them out of the jump-off. This combination didn’t touch a pole over the course of the championships.

In the Children on Horses team, the squad of Emily Moloney (GVS Goodwins Queen), Isabel O’Brien (Monsoon Monday), Chloe Hughes Kennedy (Zuidam), Katie Nallon (Java True Colours) and Alanna Fagan (Ballycarrick Lass) finished in joint-fourth place from 19 teams after they finished with 13 faults, less than a fence off the bronze medal.

Kronenberg CSIOJ NC-Y

The junior quartet of Ryan Sweetnam (Quisto), Ciaran Foley (Kingsborough Verdiva), Rhys Williams (Cowboy Balou) and Caragh Charlton (Galina) shared third place in the GDS Training Prix and booked their place in the final. Overall the team finished on four faults and went on to finish fourth overall in the FEI Junior Nations Cup Final.

In the individual classes, Rhys Williams took the honours in the CSIOJ 1.30m. Riding Conthanja, he lodged the winning clear in 54.42. In sixth was Caragh Charlton and Miss Belgium 111, also clear in 62.15.

Aisling McGuinness and Kilderry’s Joint Venture secured third place in the 1.35 CSIO young riders small tour where they were one of just five clears in 70.43. Irish riders claimed first and second in the CSIOJ Two Phase Special 1.30m. Taking the win was Rhys Williams and Conthanja, fastest of eight double clears in 37.71.

Wicklow’s Ciaran Foley and the former eventer Ballylynch Wizard filled the runner-up slot in 37.84.

Williams also took eighth place with Playboy Jt Z, last of the double clears in 50.83.

In the 1.35m young riders class, Abbie Sweetnam was best of the Irish on Joey in third, clear in 43.97. The Irish team of Ciaran Nallon (Blue Baron), Katie Conlon (Ping Ball), Aisling McGuinness (ESI Nelson) and Kayleigh Soden (Ard Leaderman) took the runner-up spot in the Milestone Farm Prix - CSIOY team event on a score of 12 faults. This team went to finish fourth behind Belgium on a final score of eight faults.

Jack Brennan was in the line-up with MHS I’m The One when he claimed fifth place in the Dietz Blumen and Events Prix 1.40m with two down in 40.50.

Irish riders put in a very good performance in the Junior Accumulator, claiming five of the top 10 places. Best of those in 32.95 was Eoin Brennan and Ninparo. Ciaran Foley and Ballylynch Wizard followed close behind in 33.08 for fourth, ahead of Rhys Williams and Conthanja in 33.75 in sixth. Aisling McGuinness took the win in the young riders’ 1.35m accumulator with Kilderry’s Joint Venture, clear in 34.17.