THE Waterford Branch got this year’s Connolly’s Red Mills/Irish Pony Club eventing season off to a very successful start last Sunday, when they held the first of the 2024 qualifiers at the Bogossian family’s Ballinamona Equestrian Centre, where the Area 3 Festival qualifier is taking place today.

A much-missed venue on the Eventing Ireland circuit, Ballinamona was looking picture-perfect as competitors began arriving there early on Sunday morning. IPC members are always keen to start qualifying for the National Championship finals (at Tattersalls Ireland in August) and to begin collecting Foran league points.

“We were blessed to run,” commented Waterford’s Fidelma Curran. “David and Vahe Bogossian and their team put in a huge amount of work in challenging weather conditions to prepare the cross-country tracks and the place looked amazing. The weather was perfect and there was a great buzz about the place. As ever, we would like to thank all our volunteers, who put in such long hours to ensure everything ran smoothly throughout the day.”

The first win of the season went to Island Branch member Susan O’Brien who, in the Intermediate competition, completed on her second-place dressage score (31 penalties) with her mother Elizabeth’s Irish Sport Horse gelding Ballinagore Aaron. Fourteen-year-old Susan and the 2012 Aron N grey began competing with Eventing Ireland this year, finishing third on their EI90 (P) starts at both Hillcrest and Lisgarvan.

The Brays’ Sophie Dooley, who held the early lead with Dignified Fiasco (28.25), unfortunately dropped out of contention when picking up 40 jumping penalties and 10.4 for time on the cross-country course which, like the show jumping track, was designed by David Bogossian.

Julie McDonald claimed Junior Section B at Ballinamona for hosts, the Waterfords, on the 19-year-old Connemara gelding Shanbo Hazels Boy \ Mel Doyle

Six combinations failed to complete in the 28-runner Intro Intermediate, where West Waterford’s Caoilainn Foley completed on her dressage score (24.5) with the Traditional ISH gelding Monatrea Xavier, a 16-year-old bay by Riyalan. Riding Carramore Master, Waterford’s Hannah Curran also finished on her flat work mark (27.75) to share second place with the South Union’s dressage winner Rian Tagney, who had a fence down show jumping on FVS Jester Million.

While the coloured poles caught out quite a number of Junior combinations, the cross-country fences had much less of an effect on the outcome of the three divisions. In Section A, Kildare’s Hogan Byrne benefitted from others’ misfortunes as he ran out the winner – on his dressage score – with his mother Amber O’Grady’s instantly-recognisable 16-year-old appaloosa gelding AC Remus (30.5).


The day’s hosts, the Waterfords, were rewarded for their efforts when Julie McDonald claimed Section B on another well-known and successful pony, the 19-year-old Connemara gelding Shanbo Hazels Boy (22.75). Tetrathlon enthusiast Wexford’s Michael Bowe led from start to finish in Section C, as he completed on his winning dressage score with his father J.J. Bowe’s Home Ruler (30), a six-year-old bay gelding by Columcille Diamond Boy.

Representing the Waterford Branch in Section A of the Under 12s’ competition, 10-year-old Daniel Bogossian tried hard to record a win on home soil with Lucy’s Scamp but, on his dressage score (28), he had to settle for second behind the Shillelaghs’ Sarah Ryan, who had a better flat work mark on her mother Sharon’s Connemara gelding Ballinaguilkey Rocco (26.25), a six-year-old grey by Murvey Rocco out of a Templebready Fear Bui mare.

Tipperary’s Anna Kennedy recorded an all-the-way win in Section B on board the Connemara gelding Savanose Bobby (24). Last season, Kennedy, who’s now 10 years of age, partnered the 2008 Gloves Bobby dun to finish third in the Foran Under 12s’ league.

The Waterford Branch received welcome additional sponsorship for Sunday’s event from local firms, such as Auto Boland Volvo Cars Waterford, Treacys Oakwood Hotel, REA O’Shea O’Toole, Velocity VR and Cedar Family Practice.

Next up

The Connolly’s Red Mills/Irish Pony Club eventing season continues tomorrow at the Kennels in Moorefields, where the Wexford Branch is host. There is a break from the action over the bank holiday weekend, with the Carlow Branch hosting the third qualifier at Lisgarvan House on Sunday, June 9th.