A BEAMING Holly Maher replied with an emphatic ‘yes’ at the Clifden Showgrounds on Friday when asked if she would have gone another round in the Puissance after breaking a decade-long record and clinching the class win for the second year in-a-row.

Riding the extraordinary Boulabeha’s Little Princess, the Loughrea teenager took on the massive 1.65m wall with ease, while the only other combination who made it to that height fell out of the running with a refusal.

The excitement of the crowd was palpable as the youngster cantered into the ring for her fifth and final attempt and erupted with a huge cheer when she succeeded.

Boulabeha’s Little Princess, by Prince of Thieves out of Ashview Lass, is owned by Holly’s father Noel Maher and was bred by Carol Nielson of Thurles.

Holly’s mother Alma said the win was ‘amazing’, and a credit to trainer Pascal Crawford who helped prepare the pair who only decided to defend their title a week before the event.

“The nerves were there but she stayed cool as a cucumber,” she said.

“The drive was there and the partnership and trust they have is amazing. The pony has a temperament to die for and she is better looked after than anyone else in the house.”

Holly’s closest challenge came from winner of the High Performance Working Hunter class, Talitha Diamond, whose pony Sea Storm cleared the height of 1.55m, 10cm over the winning height from the previous year.

Sea Storm, a 17-year-old gelding by Ballinavilla Prince and out of Little Nora, is owned by Diamonds Equine Renvyle and was bred by Joseph Mannion of Roundstone.

A brick too far

Third placed Bernadette de Courcy made it to the fourth round (1.55cm) but a refusal from Annaghbay Jewel (Cashelbay Prince x Annaghbay Silver Star) saw them out of the running.

De Courcy also made it through to the third round (1.45m) with Lisrua River but a short stride before take-off saw them clip a brick.

The fifth combination to make it past round one but going no further was Laura Kyne aboard Fintan Cosgrave’s Moonlight Magic, by Moonlight Silver Shadow and bred by Roan Hannah.

Storming home

Talitha Diamond’s win in the High Performance class was an improvement on last year when she finished in second. Diamond kept her cool to deliver a foot perfect round aboard her Puissance mount, Sea Storm.

“I was over the moon, it was a shock but a lovely shock, all the hard work paid off,” said Diamond, who has been chasing a win in the class for years.

“He can be quite a hot pony but he never went around a course as quiet and chill as he did on Friday so I was thrilled with him.”

Lara Field and Creganna Kerfuffle were second of only three combinations to get around the challenging Tony Ennis track clear. This eight-year-old dapple grey mare by Silver Shadow and out of Prospect Suzy sailed around to claim second. She is owned and was bred by Marjorie Hardiman of Oranmore.

In this class, the joker fence at 13 took the most casualties, with the triple at 10 also causing problems, including for third placed Mia Bannon and Claire Bannon’s Clareville Codiac (Caherlistrane Bay x Tegan).

Third clear

In fourth was Nicole Brennan on Karen Brennan’s Shenandoah Sadie (Westside Mirah x Shenandoah Bán) who were the third combination clear in the jumping phase. Fifth place went to Ciara O’Connor riding Hannah’s Only Dun (Moonlight Silver Shadow x Roan Hannah). This pair placed second in the Stallion Working Hunter (four-year-old) class earlier in the afternoon.

Ciara also came first in the same Stallion class with her European team bronze medal pony Agharanny Minstrel (Castleside JJ x Silver Mint).

Sixth in the High Performance class was Alicia Devlin-Byrne riding last year’s winner Blackwood Fernando (Ferdia x Dancing Queen).

Defending champion

The other highlight of Friday afternoon at the pony show was the Champion Working Hunter, with this year’s honours bestowed on Pauline Dahill, winner of the Potential Working Hunter Pony (four to six-year-old) class. Dahill rode Joan Vaughan’s Rathnari Connor (Plume de Kezeg x Flesk Queen) who was bred by Mark Crosby of Navan.

Reserve Champion Working Hunter was Tullaree Fear Bui (Templebready Fear Bui x Tullaree Silver), bred by Clive Swindell of Castlegorey and owned by Cathy Cooper and Nicola Main of Tipperary.

Ridden by Ellie Rogan, this ten-year-old gelding was the Working Hunter Pony (four years and over) class.