DANE Rawlins successfully defended his title as national champion at the Slieve Bloom Stud national dressage championships in Barnadown last Saturday, becoming just the sixth rider to record back-to-back victories in the weekend showpiece, the Grand Prix, since the championships were first staged in 1977.

England-based Irish international Rawlins, who was recently elected to the board of Dressage Ireland, scored 69.13% with his 13-year-old Westfalian gelding Espoire (by Ehrenmann). Thanks to her higher collective score in this three-strong class, Sorrell Klatzko slotted into the reserve slot on Turbo although achieving the same mark (64.89) as Tara Oliver Donohoe with First Romance.

“I had a great few days,” said Rawlins who not only competed but also judged and enjoyed a training session with some of the younger riders at the championships. “I like to support Dressage Ireland in any way I can and it was just lovely to be at Barnadown. I thought the show was very well-run. My working pupil Naoise Ward, who’s from Wexford, came over with me and she rode my six-year-old Sydney’s Glory (by Carrentino Glory) in the Elementary championship. Although the horse was a bit green, Naoise enjoyed meeting all her friends from home.

“It’s great to see that the standard of riding and production is still improving and some of the Elementary and Medium horses would hold their own against others at that level in Britain and beyond. The good ones at least are knocking on the door.”

Winning scores

In the EIS Intermediate II championship, the collective scores worked in favour of Limerick-based Dubliner Oliver Donohoe as, on board her Hanoverian gelding Furst Romance, a black 11-year-old by Furst Romancier, she was awarded the same score (66.4) as Belinda Brereton who had to settle for second with her Dutch Warmblood gelding Deco, a 14-year-old son of Painted Black.

Leinster Region member Brereton won the Intermediate I championship with her Dutch Warmblood gelding Galaxy Moone, an 11-year-old chesnut by Negro, ahead of Jenny Heffernan and De Keizer KN. However, as she topped the final leaderboard in the Prix St George championship with her 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Vivaldi, Heffernan was crowned the Small Tour champion.

While five grades of championships were advertised for Para riders, only two titles were awarded, Rosemary Gaffney recording an uncontested victory in the Grade IV championship on board her Hanoverian mare Chantal 2, a 13-year-old daughter of Christ. At Grade II level, Jessica McKenna saw off a sole rival to win with Davidoff 188, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Diomedes.