THERE was a change to the top of the leaderboard in the Baileys Horse Feeds flexi-eventing series at The Meadows following last Saturday’s fifth round with Zara Reid and Lola taking over at the head of affairs following their win in the Intro A dressage and clears in both 80cms jumping phases.

Drumbo-based Reid and Lola have amassed 48 points while last week’s leaders, Nikki Cullen and Gemstone Ruby, are currently on 46 having also gone clear over the coloured poles and cross-country fences but only finishing fifth on the flat. Multiple series winners, Denis Currie and Arodstown Tan are poised to pounce in third on 45.

There is no room for complacency however as, in a very tightly-packed field, four other combinations have gained 40 points or more while there are eight others in the 30+ bracket. Dora Beacom, event co-ordinator for the Northern Region of Eventing Ireland, has the task of keeping the leaderboard up to-date and so far she has had to compute the results of 512 combinations.

Thirteen-year-old Reid, a student at Dromore High School who has represented the North Down Branch in many Pony Club activities, commenced her exploits on Saturday by winning the Janet Hall-judged Intro A dressage on 74.3%. The only other competitor to breach the 70% mark was fellow 13-year-old Amelia Wheeler with the five-year-old Midnight Minty (71.3).

Lola would be better-known in the world of eventing under her registered name, Greylands Diamond Girl, the now 13-year-old British-bred mare with whom Alex O’Hare won both the league and national championship last season at EI110 (P) level. The combination also recorded the most wins (nine, from 10 starts) under EI rules in 2022.

Vanda Stewart judged the Intro B where she awarded her top score of 73% to another consistent pairing of Nicola Martin and her Irish Draught mare Dundrum Misty Blue (Misty). Martin and her five-year-old grey daughter of Killinick Bouncer recorded a double clear over Aaron McCusker’s 90cms show jumping track. Again, there was just one other score over 70% with Gail McIlwaine claiming second place on her 13-year-old skewbald mare Miss Ballyrolly (70.5).

At Pre Novice level, Castlewellan’s Kaiti McCann completed a hat trick of victories in Section A having topped Janet Hall’s marks with her father Martin’s well-known 14-year-old skewbald gelding Boyher Cookies N Creme (75%) who was clear over the 90cms cross-country course. Gemma Esler finished second on Norma Wilkinson’s six-year-old Ramiro B mare Remembera Bea (72.3) while Claire Ireland slotted into third with Goin For Gold (70).

Nicola Martin riding Misty, winners of the Intro B Dressage at the Baileys Horse Feeds flexi-eventing series at The Meadows \ Tori O'Connor Photography

Tight rein

Angeline Nicholson kept a tighter hold on her marks in the 17-runner Section B. They ranged from a low of 59.3 to a high of 69% which was achieved by Jessica Knipe on her Irish Sport Horse gelding Shanaghan Timothy. Knipe, who works in her family’s electronics store in Ballymoney and is busy planning her wedding in April, describes her 14-year-old son of Cyrano as the ‘horse of a lifetime’.

Another of the day’s 13-year-old riders, Maya Constable, finished second on her mother Kim’s Connemara gelding Duncarbery Cascade (67.8), a 2010 Harp King grey on whom she was placed in both her EI90 (P) starts last season. While she is coached by Kim at her grandmother Patricia Dowds’ yard in Craigantlet, Maya also attends training twice a week with Trevor Smith.

The above-mentioned Claire Ireland and Goin For Gold also competed in the Vanda Stewart-judged Novice class where their second-placed score of 64.8% was easily beaten by Denis Currie and his ISH gelding Arodstown Aramis (75). Having comprehensively seen off their 11 rivals in that class, Currie and his 18-year-old Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan bay faced five opponents in the Angeline Nicholson-judged Intermediate where they claimed the honours on 73% ahead of Suzanne Hagan and OBOS Take Two (70.7).

Jessica Knipe riding Shanaghan Timothy, winners of the PreNovice B at the Baileys Horse Feeds flexi-eventing series at The Meadows \ Tori O'Connor Photography