ONE of the most popular events on the calendar, the SJI Annual Pony Awards saw over 600 guests travel to Mullingar Park Hotel last Saturday night to celebrate achievements at home and abroad. On the night, the organising committee had awards for all children for their achievements from newcomers right up to European gold medal winners.

This year’s annual live auction raised in the region of €42,500. The money raised goes towards funding the awards evening and the balance raised will go towards the SJI National Pony Championships in August 2023.

Chairman of the SJI Pony Committee, Dessie McFadden, said: “As SJI Pony Chairman for the last three years, and right throughout Covid, I would like to thank the sponsors, the committee and everyone involved in this great success story. We have built great relationships with our sponsors at all levels, which now makes Showjumping Ireland so successful and a healthy company going forward into 2023. The popularity of the pony sections is clear to see with as 100% of our pony classes sponsored throughout the last two to three years. Now that the SJI pony committee is one of the healthiest committees within show jumping, it is now looking at further developing our athletes by introducing a new academy for our pony riders.

“The pony committee would like to thank Sarah Jane Fagan and her committee for the unbelievable work that has been done over the last number of years and especially this year. making the awards bigger and better and moving the bar further ahead. I would like to thank the people who were so kind in putting up some of the wonderful prizes and auction lots which enabled Sarah Jane and the pony committee to be so successful in the amount of money received. Finally, I would like to thank the hotel and the staff for the work, effort and excellence on the night.”

Glittering year

2022 was truly a great year for Ireland’s pony riders on the international circuit, with Ireland making history at the FEI European Pony Championships. Gary Marshall’s team of Coen Williams, Eoin Brennan, James Brennan, Paddy Reape and James Derwin took Team Gold. James Derwin also clinched Individual Gold, while James Brennan took Individual Silver. Claiming Bronze was Coen Williams, while Eoin Brennan finished fifth. The European Pony team was duly recognised for their top results.

The Home Pony International teams from Cavan, Scotland was presented by Aldyth Roulston, while Zelda Sheehan presented the Wales and West Team and Robert Fagan present the team which delivered great results at South View.

The training for these riders begins at home with a series of tours and training designed to prepare future stars for this top level of competition.

The season starts early for pony riders and in 2022 with the Equijump Spring Tour which saw huge entries in each division. Accepting their awards from sponsor Reece St John were the winners in each section. Winner of the 128cm U10 League was Lucia Keane, while Elizabeth McCracken took the title in the 128cm League. Winner of the 138cm division was Annie Boland while Lauren Adams took the 148cm title. The Children on Horses league winner was Grace Maher Ryan.


The Hive Pony Premier Finals saw the top combinations battle it out throughout the summer and this came to exciting finale at Necarne. The winning riders were all presented with awards by Melvyn Kennedy on behalf of sponsors Hive Insurance. The 128cm U10 Premier League winners was Ella Cash while the winner of the 128cm Premier was Robbie Sheehan. Lauren Adams and Riot Del Pegulil took second, claimed the overall Leading Rider in the 138cm section. In the 148cms, James Derwin added to his growing list of accolades, accepting the overall 148cm Award. Claiming the Children on Horses Leading Rider award was Isobel Sheehan.

All pony riders who booked their place at Dublin Horse Show received an award for their achievement in securing a place in the hard-fought qualifiers. Flor Madden of the RDS presented riders with their awards on the night. No stranger to awards, Ruben Foley was honoured for his win in the RDS for a second time. Winner of the 128cm Championship in 2021, Foley returned to take the 138cm Leading Rider having claimed the title with Mayfly Green Peter. Coen Williams was awarded for his win in the 148cms aboard Saxton Freedam. Winner of the 128cm Championship was award recipient Thomas Meagher (Sasha).

Winners Alright

In the young pony category, there were many awards presented. The winner of the Starfinder and presented with her award by sponsor Sinead Maher was Daisy McNamara and the seven-year-old MVS Carvelle. The leading combination in the six-year-olds, was James Brennan with Coolcronan Liberty. At Dublin Horse Show, upcoming 138cm and 128cm six and seven-year-old combinations got their opportunity to compete for the first time. In the 138cm division, Ella Rush and the six-year-old Shadow Dash took the inaugural win and accepted her award as was Alayna Hawkins who emerged victorious in the 128cm division with the six-year-old Carraghy Apollo. In the 148cm championship, winner Coen Williams took the win with Gilton Des Islots and accepted his award. The leading seven-year-old award winner was Kian Dore with Milchem Original.

A host of riders achieved awards for their success at the SJI National Championships held at Mullingar Equestrian. Just some riders picking up awards in this category were Caoimhe Murphy (128cm U10), Lucy Kent (128cm U10), Ted Fagan (128cm), Lauren Adams and Ruben Foley (138cm), James Derwin and Cait Kenny (148cm) and Children on Horses division winners Alanna Fagan and Cian McMunn. Accepting her award as the NPC Flexi Equine Tack Locker Leading Rider was Lauren Adams.


The up and coming under 10 riders got great applause and among those accepting their awards on the night was Edward Walsh Jnr (Connaught), Caitie Mc Evoy (Ulster), Caoimhe Murphy (Leinster) and DJ Kent (Munster).

The All-Ireland interprovincial, which the SJI pony committee have put in place over the years, blends well for the success of pony teams, both at home and abroad, and also acts as a successful conveyor belt right through to our senior riders all over the world. This year’s winners, Robert Fagan’s Leinster team were delighted to accept their awards.

Awards were also presented to FEI Young Nations Cups 2022 winners with Keith Griffin performing the honours to Gary Marshall’s team of James Brennan, Eoin Brennan, Paddy Reape, James Derwin and Ben Walsh. Also accepting their awards in the FEI International Recognition 2022 Award category were Alanna Fagan, Alice Moloney, Anna White, Annie Boland, Ben Walsh, Cara McFadden, Ciara Geaney, Coen Williams, Ellen Power, Eoin Brennan, James Brennan, James Derwin, Jenny Dunlop, Katie McEntee, Katie Nallon, Kian Dore and Paddy Reape.

Retiring riders on the night were also recognised for their achievements.

The Ian Fearon International Rookie of the Year award went to James Derwin, while the Special Achievement Award was awarded to Ben Walsh.

The Standalone Show of the Year was Mullingar Equestrian. The Special Recognition award went to the Brennan family for their pony MHS Glow.

Please note that due to the number of awards, it was not possible to mention all award winners on space grounds. A full list of SJI Pony Award winners can be found on