WEATHER conditions could not have been more ideal on Wednesday for what is termed Viewing Day in the Stepping Stones to Success League at Wexford Equestrian Centre.

The sun shone continuously as every round of jumping in the four classes was videoed and can be viewed on Facebook or, longer-term, on whose Lar Sutton, perched high above the Derby arena to film the action, was the only one not to enjoy the all-day sunshine.

The judging panel for Wednesday’s fourth and last qualifying round comprised Gillian Kyle (dressage), Ian Fearon (show jumping) and Britain-based New Zealand international event rider Caroline Powell (cross-country) who has four horses entered at Ballindenisk next week, all of whom were bred in Ireland.

Powell was also one of the judges at Lambertstown last August for the Dublin Horse Show young event horse championships when the winner of the four-year-old division was the Irish Sport Horse mare Diamond Mistress who was ridden for her owner/breeder, Kate Jarvey, by Sian Coleman.

Runner-up here on week one, Coleman justified her second three-hour trip from Mallow to Tomhaggard on Wednesday when she and the Diarado bay recorded a wide-margin success in the Childeric Saddles five-year-old class.

Although Diamond Mistress was only lying joint-second after dressage on 66.5 points, her jumping score of 145 was far superior to those of her rivals as was her total of 211.5. The flat phase winner on 67.5, Greenhall Good Decision, an Ars Vivendi gelding ridden by Jane O’Flynn for owner Dick McElligott, finished second on 200.5.

Amazingly, on her third appearance in this year’s league, Louise Bloomer finished third for the third time with her own and Jinnie Webb’s Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan gelding, Shannondale Levi (194.5) while the week three winners, Noel Dunne and Cristiano TG Z, who were lying joint-second after dressage, had to settle for fourth on this occasion on 193.

Coleman was delighted with her victory and with the attitude of the mare who, the rider says, loves to show off and will have an opportunity to do so in England next month as she is being aimed at the Burghley young event horse qualifier at Chatsworth where Coleman has entered Blarney Monbeg Pepper in the CCI2*-S.

“I spoke to Caroline after the competition and she said that the mare had strengthened up a good bit since last August,” said Coleman. “She did her first real event earlier this month at Lisgarvan House where she finished second in the metre class and I was delighted with her there. I’m not sure as yet if I’ll do the Young Eventhorse Series with her, we’ll just see how things plan out, but I did think it was very good for her last year. It’s an ideal introduction to the sport and I’m definitely heading that way with my four-year-old.

“Wexford Equestrian is a lovely venue and my results today made the three-hour trip up here well worthwhile. Also, I’ve had a lot of support over the past few years from the class sponsors, Childeric, and I wanted to support them in return.”

The four-year-old referred to by Coleman was Catherine and Charles Harold-Barry’s home-bred Luidam gelding Ballyvonare Rascal who, on 197 points, finished third in his class behind the Leila Barker-partnered winner Boleybawn Oliva (209) and Quality By Quantum (202), ridden by Luke Drea for Quantum Sport Horses and Leroy Chambers.

“I was delighted with the lovely comments made by all three judges as I think this is a very nice mare,” said Barker who purchased her winner late last year from her breeder, Ronan Rothwell. “She was just backed at that stage so I rode her away for a while before giving her a break.

“As I was injured, she had a longer break than intended but she just goes about her business in a professional way and it didn’t take long to get her ready for the Stepping Stones – none of my other young horses are as far forward. The great thing is, I own the mare myself so am under no pressure to do more with her than I want. She’ll do the final next week and then have a bit of a break.

“I’m in two minds whether I do the Young Eventhorse Series or the Dublin jumping qualifiers with her as she could go either way,” concluded Co Wicklow-based Barker who is very much looking forward to moving up to three-star level with her Robin des Pres gelding Double Sixteen on whom she won the thoroughbred league at Wexford Equestrian in 2020.

The ISH mare Boleybawn Oliva is by the Dutch Warmblood stallion Jorado out of the SCSL (Stud-book du Cheval de Selle Luxembourgeois) mare C-Jumps, a daughter of Cicero Z Van Paemal.

Four-year-old class winner at the Stepping Stones League this week - Leila Barker and Boleybawn Oliva \ Tadhg Ryan Bit-Media

Final next week

The final of the Stepping Stones to Success League takes place at Wexford Equestrian next Tuesday when points and a half will be on offer. There will also be an additional judged phase for conformation and type in the two Childeric Saddles-sponsored leagues.

There is currently a tie at the top of the four-year-old league on 19 points between the aforementioned Quality By Quantum, a gelding by OBOS Quality 004, and the Jackaroo gelding JFH Golden Spear who is ridden by Gillian Beale King for Richard Ames.

In the five-year-old league, Sian Coleman and Diamond Mistress are on 19 points, just ahead of Jane O’Flynn and Greenhall Good Decision (18). Noel Dunne is lying in third place with Cristiano TG Z (17) with Louise Bloomer and Shannondale Levi a further point adrift in fourth.