THE belief that Tyrella could run as an eventing venue when nowhere else in the country could, took a bit of a knock recently, but when the 2024 Eventing Ireland season eventually got under way last Saturday, it was at the Corbett family’s Co Down estate.

This was a different Tyrella from the norm, with water still lying in places, on both sides of the avenue down to the sea, which forced changes to the parking areas, dressage arenas and, in places, the cross-country course, as some fields still remained too wet.

As the all-clear for the event had only been signalled mid-week, a sigh of relief went up all round, but especially from the hard-pressed organisers and cross-country course designer Adam Stevenson, when Steven Smith rode down the centre line of Arena 1 towards Rosie Gomes at 8am. He was the first to do so at a Northern Region EI-affiliated event since the final rider competed at Vesey Lodge late last August.

From four rides, Clare Abbott recorded a double and completed on her dressage score on all but Mr Mighty who, although a second over the cross-country time in the EI115 (Open), comfortably saw off his 19 rivals on a total of 24.5 penalties. Four other combinations finished on a sub-30 score, with Molly Evans claiming the runner-up spot on board Wellan Graffiti (28.4). There were no problems in jumping across the country.

Abbott doubled up when landing the 24-runner EI90 on MT Kenobis Touch, who is co-owned by the rider’s partner Gareth Carlisle, breeder of the ISH gelding, plus Jacqueline and David Wright. The five-year-old Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars bay, who completed on the winning flat work mark (25 penalties) he was awarded by Fran Warden, had been jumping at Cavan the previous weekend.

“It was great to be out eventing again on home soil after a training trip to England for five weeks in February and March and then what has seemed like a very long, wet wait for Tyrella to get off the starting blocks!” said Abbott.


“I was based with J.P. Sheffield and jump trained with him and got cross-country lessons from Caroline Moore. It has made a huge difference to the horses, especially Mr Mighty. He’s very talented in all three phases, but I’ve not found it easy to channel his power and gallop. Saturday was a great chance to test the new balance and he was superb cross-country. We don’t do much dressage training with him at all, as that part is very easy for him.

“MT Kenobis Touch is a wonderful model and character. We wouldn’t normally be ready to event a five-year-old at this stage in the season, but he’s got an amazing attitude and loves his work, so we thought it would be nice to get started with a quiet EI90 to show him the ropes. The win was much deserved – he was so good in each phase. We knew we had a very talented four-year-old on our hands last season, so we had no hesitation selling a half-share to Jacqueline and David Wright to enjoy the journey with us. We’ve got very high hopes for Thumper.

“The six-year-olds (MT Luxaan and Kilcoltrim Cooley) had a great run too.”