HAZELDENE Farm was the venue for the Greenvale Transport-sponsored Area 17 eventing which was hosted by the Iveagh Branch on Monday, July 14th, a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland, and served as a qualifier for The Pony Club championships in England the following month.

Three of the five team competitions were won by members of the East Down Branch whose then District Commissioner, Fran Rowlatt-McCormick, was to take over as Area representative later in the year from the long-standing occupant of that position, Liz Lowry.

The East Downs topped the final standings in the PC100, PC90 and PC70 team event. The first of those winning squads comprised Sarah Gilchrist (Hazeldene Mighty Max), Raona Savage (Knockash Willis), Tom Rowlatt-McCormick (Mon Ami Beauvallet) and James Murphy (Roundstone Star Express).

Riding Rickamore Quest, Gilchrist was also a member of the winning PC90 team along with her sister Jennifer (Lackamore Vandango), Cara MacNabb (Melody Maker) and Ellen MacNabb (Bonecastle Lass). The successful East Down quartet at PC70 level were Eilis Donnelly (Sally Star), Caoimhe Digney (Smyths Pocket Rocket), Annabelle Gill (Mo) and Izzy Napier (Rocky).

The Iveagh Skunks won the PC80 competition thanks to the efforts of Jenna Morton (Estella Great Expectations), Pippa Moore (Seapatrick Make A Move), Sophia Madeley (Bellindene Fagin) and Kirstin Bailie (Asha).

As at the Irish Pony Club/Connolly’s Red Mills eventing championships, there was a very disappointing turn-out of Open riders with East Antrim’s Holly Ross and Star Of Hollymount, who also won at the Area dressage, seeing off just one other combination en route to success.

Ross also enjoyed two excellent results in international events during 2023 with Star Of Hollymount, an 11-year-old dun gelding owned by her parents, bloodstock agents Anna and Kevin Ross. Competing against senior riders, the Newtownabbey 15-year-old finished fourth of 28 in the CCI1*-Intro at Lisgarvan House in August after which, in the pony ranks, she finished fourth of 31 in the CCIP2-S at Ballindenisk the following month.

At the non-qualifying Area 17 Home championships, held at Lusk Equestrian in late August, the team honours were just slightly more evenly spread with wins for North Down (85cms open, 75cms open and 45cms), Iveagh (85cms and 75cms) and East Antrim (45cms, assisted). A mixed team came out on top at 65cms level. There were also 13 individual winners.