LAST Friday, the East Antrim Branch hosted the final qualifier in Area 17 (Northern Ireland) for next month’s British Pony Club Championships when show jumping enthusiasts descended on The Meadows where it mainly stayed dry until the concluding PC110 section.

As the first five local members in the individual class – Sophia Bingham, Kym Moore, Charlotte Betts and Katie Robinson – qualified for the championships on a two-round score, it was decided not to have a third jump-off round over Aaron McCusker’s technical track. Sophie Moore, a member of the Monaghan Branch of the Irish Pony Club, also went double clear on the Irish Sport Horse gelding Brooklyn, a 13-year-old bay by Manhattan.

The winning mixed team of Tullylagan and East Antrim members comprised Lilly Moore, Megan O’Neill, Bingham and Holly Ross who finished on eight faults as did the Iveagh Zebras but in a slower time.

Riding her mother Anna’s Connemara mare Ech Feirin, a 12-year-old grey by Frederiksminde Hazy Move On, Hollie Ross added to her good day when also winning the PC100 team competition with fellow East Antrim members Sophia Bingham, Ellie Bingham and Jessica McConnell, and the individual qualifier by less than a second from Seskinore’s Amy McLaughlin on Rhonda.

By its standards, the Iveagh Branch hadn’t enjoyed the best season until last Friday when, among its wins, was that in the PC90 teams competition by its Zebras quartet comprising Molly Davidson, Ted Geary, Rebecca Rafferty and Eva Wright. Geary and Twilight Dancer were second in the individual class to the fellow Iveagh pairing of Lucy Orr riding Jazzy Susie, a 16-year-old skewbald mare by QT Jazz Man.

Iveagh members filled the first four places in the PC70 individual class, headed by Ella Rose Sands on the 12-year-old black mare Rosie.

However, because of the make-up of their squads in the team qualifier, the Branch had to settle for second (Magpies) and third (Lemurs) behind the winning Tullylagan quartet of Sofia Newell, Katie Kilpatrick, Sarah McKenzie and Elen Irwin.

North Derry’s Sofie Halcrow won the 70-runner PC80 individual class on Clonminch Sally but her fellow Branch members in the team competition were narrowly beaten into second place by the North Down Crunchies squad of Carys Black, Rachel Booth, Zara Reid and Abi Gardner.

As ever, there was great competition to see who would represent Area 17 in the mini/major class at the London international show at Christmas.

Bidding to follow-up last December’s brilliant win of Juliana Nelson on Cumbak Kid (and Norway’s Gier Gulliksen on Equine America Grandino H) will be fellow Iveagh Branch members Alice Steele and Serena Brown (Maxmilo).

Nine-year-old Steele won on her mother Victoria’s 18-year-old gelding Zulu’s Dream who was a surprise ‘Christmas present’ in January. Alice and the bay have also qualified for the 128cms championship at the upcoming Dublin Horse Show at the RDS.

Another Iveagh member, Annie Keys, won the non-qualifying 55cms class on Melu Kate.