THE AIRC North East Region hosted a busy two-day festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend with a range of classes and disciplines and over 200 entries.

Day one took place in Cheval Showgrounds in Oldtown, Co Dublin, and competitors had the honour of competing in the brand new sand arena which was foot perfect despite the heavy overnight rain. With graded and open dressage classes it was a busy day for judges Jean Halpenny and Lindsey Ilona Brady.

In the Seriously Tacky-sponsored P1 class, first place went to Anthony Archbold and Boystown Kal-El from Cheval with second place going to Alison Curtis on Haribo, also for the home club. In the Mackey Equestrian P2 class, victory went to Leah Wigmore with Jessie Jay from Thornton and Fergus Maughan and Valley View Sammy from Killcarrick were second before they went on to win the P2 Open Class.

In the Mackey Equestrian P3 class, Nicole Groyer and the throughbred Vartano from Fingal took the win and also highest placed throughbred on the day, and second went to the ever consistent Gerry O’Bryne and Donn Finn from Cheval.

The Mackey Equestrian-sponsored RCN class was won by Cheval member Rachael Red and Gin who were also the first horse to compete in the brand new arena. In the RCE class Louise Somers and the Irish Draught Indian Mist from Kilronan were first and they also won the Highest Placed Irish Draught Sash sponsored by the IDHBA Dublin Branch. Louise Duffy and Merrycorner Old Night were the highest placed Traditional Irish Horse having won their open class.

After lunch the Handy Horse course was set up, overseen by Ard Lú and judged by Karen Gibney. Each competitor had a series of obstacles to navigate including bending poles, s-bends, posting a letter, moving flags and cups. This is a very entertaining and fun class which was enjoyed by all.

The RC70 class was won by Caroline Farrelly and Mineview Major Tom from Drynam who also had a very successful second day of the festival. In the RC80 class, this was won by Gillian Barry and Randalstown Executive from Drynam and the RC90 class was won by Woodside Kiss Me Quick and Emma Bell from Ard Lú who were also Supreme Reserve Performance Hunter Champions on the second day of the festival.

Davina Gray and Louise Kavanagh at the AIRC North East Region Festival

Performance hunter

Day two saw the festival move to Killossery Lodge Stud, by kind permission of the Glynn family, due to the ground conditions and parking at Cheval in the deteriorating weather conditions. The organisers were thankful to the Glynn family for accommodating them at short notice.

Day two was all about performance hunter and showing classes and Barbara Quinlan had a very long day judging the Rolling Hills Performance Hunter including three championships and a supreme championship. Open height classes started from cross poles up to 1m and included breed classes.

The first champion of the day was Emma Cagney and Derby Girl from Cheval who won the cross poles and RC50 class while Caroline Farrelly and Mineview Major Tom from Dryam whom won the RC 70 class, also taking Reserve Champion. Then it was on to the Breed classes – Connemara, Traditional Irish Horse and Irish Draught.

Champion was the Connemara Cnocban Blaze with Lynne Broderick from Castle Hill with the Traditional Irish Horse Merrycorner Rio by Night and Louise Duffy from Copperfield taking Reserve Breed Champion. Then it was on to the higher height classes with Sheen Kinsella and Poppy Duke from Cheval taking Champion having won the RC80 class, and Emma Bell and Woodside Kiss Me Quick having won the Handy Horse class the day before took Reserve Champion.

Next was the Supreme Championship where Merrycorner Rio by Night and Louise Duffy took the Supreme Performance Hunter Champion Sash and Emma Bell and Woodside Kiss Me Quick from Ard Lú landing the Supreme Performance Hunter Reserve Champion Sash.


In ring two, the showing classes took place under the watchful eye of conformation judge Cormac O’Rourke and ride judge Aoife Keogh. With 10 classes, three championships and a Supreme Championship it was a busy day for the judges.

In the RCP1 showing class, first place went to DMF Meadow Lane and Laura Lynam from Drynam with second place going to Alison Curtis on Haribo whom also had a very successful outing the previous day. In the Horse First coloured showing class, first place went to Laura Bell-McKevitt and Woodside Fire Dancer from Ard Lú.

In the Riding Horse Class, Boyneside’s Davina Gray and Balief Clover won the class and were also champion mare and Reserve Supreme Champion of the Show. The Horse Mad Store Small Hunter was won by Mary Hagan from Fingal with Sweetwell who was also Veteran Champion and Reserve Mare Champion.

And the Middle/Heavyweight and IDHBA Dublin Branch Irish Draught classes were both won by Drynam’s Louise Kavanagh and the Irish Draught Fred Showtime who also went on to be overall Supreme Champion. The Lightweight Hunter was also won by another Drynam member, Megan Fowler with Please the Court.

The Throughbred class, sponosrored by Treo Eile, was won by Fingal’s Nicole Groyer and Vartano who also won their dressage class the day before and were highest placed throughbred in dressage. The Connemara class was won by Moyglare’s Zohra Smyth and Carnbay Johnny who also were Reserve Champion four-year-old.

The Horse First Cob champion was Oreo Lad, ridden by Lyndsey Rodgers from Headfort, with Reserve Champion going to regional chairperson Jane Whitaker and Coppermine Doll. The four-year-old champion was Sophie Marks Lilly’s Lucky Penny from Drynam.

It was then time for a day or two of rest after a busy show before everyone descended on Dublin 4 for the RDS Dublin Horse Show. It was fantastic also to see a number of competitors getting a final outing at the NER Festival before competing at the RDS.