THE Eastern Region of Dressage Ireland held its first show of 2024 at Marlton last Sunday, two days after DI chairman, Mark Ruddock, presented the region’s 2023 leading rider trophies at an awards function held in the Parkview Hotel, Newtownmountkennedy.

Those award winners were Lisa Carnegie (Novice and overall), Kirsty Kirkwood (Preliminary), Siofra Pratt (Elementary), Gilly Crawford (Medium), Barbara Delahoyde (Advanced), Madison Roche (Trailblazers) and Celia Taylor (new member).

In her address, regional chair Gillian Kyle thanked the many people who helped run the 11 shows staged last year, particularly the Delahoyde family at Marlton, regional and show secretary Katriona Hall, Jane Whitaker, who does all the times, and Peter Roberts, “our brilliant call-up steward”.

“This year, we will be running 11 shows and will be bringing List 1 judges from the UK,” continued Kyle. “We are also very fortunate to have Heike Holstein and Harry Payne booked for courses. The Eastern Region are delighted to announce that we will be sponsoring the Youth National Championships (at CoilÓg on August 24th and 25th). We are very passionate about encouraging the youth, so for them to have their own championships is a huge step forward.”

Blue sky

Those heading to Marlton early on Sunday were disappointed to see a small amount of rain but, by 9am, the skies had turned blue and remained like that for the rest of the day. The show catered for Trailblazers up to Grand Prix riders, but the classes covered here were those with the largest entry.

Underlining their commitment to the youth sector, the region ran six dedicated Junior classes, the best supported of which was the five-runner Novice BD39. Here, the highest score awarded by Lynne Cassidy (List 3) went to the home-based pair of Niamh Winter riding Josephine Delahoyde’s nine-year-old 138cm piebald mare, Marlton Rose (72.69%).

Finn O'Gara and Jinger, who won the Elementary Category 3 at the Dressage Ireland National Winter Finals 2023 at Castle Irvine, won the sole Advanced Medium class at Marlton \ Louise O'Brien Photography

High score

The highest score of the day (73.08%), also awarded by Cassidy, was achieved in the Preliminary DI6 by Category 3 rider Finn O’Gara on board Phillipa Teggin’s Irish Draught mare Toberpatrick Peaches And Cream, a six-year-old chesnut daughter of Dunbeggan Grey Mist. There were seven withdrawals from this class, in which 12 combinations started.

In the Cassidy-judged, nine-runner BD19, two pairings recorded the top score of 69.17%. These were Kirsty Kirkwood and the ISH mare Ballycapple Brigade Cruise, a 10-year-old grey daughter of Clover Brigade, and Sonya McCormack riding the unregistered ISH gelding Oakfield Jappeloup, a Rebel Mountain five-year-old.

Against eight rivals, Finn O’Gara went on to land the sole Advanced Medium class, the BD91 judged by Michael Moore (List 2a), when achieving a score of 68.85% for his test on Karen Bennett’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Jinger, a chesnut 10-year-old by Negro.

Ahead of the Eventing Ireland season, due to commence on Saturday, March 16th, some riders more associated with that discipline competed at Marlton. These included Robbie Kearns, who finished a narrow second to O’Gara in that Advanced Medium class on the unregistered Chance Encounter (68.21%).

Earlier, Kearns claimed the seven-strong Cassidy-judged Medium BD69 with Richard Ames’ ISH gelding Ballyvillane OBOS (69.39%), the 11-year-old OBOS Quality 004 gelding on whom he won the EI120 title at the EI national championships held at Kilguilkey House last September.

There were seven starters also in the Novice DI27A, judged by Jean Halpenny (List 4), where the highest score (67.93%) was recorded by Killian Gaffney on Rowena Parker’s recently-purchased, and as yet unregistered, Dutch Warmblood gelding Kensington D.