THE South Munster Region held the first Dressage Ireland-affiliated show of 2023 at the Lee Valley Equestrian Centre on Sunday, January 8th and followed up with a second last Sunday at Sceilig Equestrian where the day’s highest score, 76.8%, was awarded by Betty O’Neill.

This was in the 19-strong Preliminary DI4 and was recorded by the unregistered combination of Elden Equestrian’s Katie McKeon riding Elden Cavalier Roulette, a six-year-old mare by West Coast Cavalier who the owner purchased “practically untouched” in 2021.

Last season, McKeon’s younger sister Nicola competed the bay in the Connolly’s Red Mills/Irish Pony Club eventing series, providing the Carbery Branch with a win in the Into Intermediate class at the Area 5 qualifier at Kilguilkey House in early August.

“We like this mare a lot but, like everything else here, she is for sale,” said west Cork-based McKeon. “We will compete her away until she finds a new home.”

Category 1 rider Niamh O’Carroll fared best of the remainder on board her 19-year-old liver chestnut gelding Castlelawn (75.6).

O’Neill’s other winners in Arena 2 were Ciara O’Keeffe and the five-year-old Denounce mare Sash Flight (67.14%) in the New To Dressage competition and Ava Chambers with the Connemara gelding Rathmore Fletcher Óg (65), a 12-year-old by Drumbad Fletcher Moss, in the Junior Trailblazer class.

In the afternoon, seven combinations appeared before Elena Satalkina in Arena 1 for the Preliminary DI18 where, again, it was an unregistered combination which came out on top, this time 11-year-old Jessica Coveney riding Bishops Hall Joe. Coveney and her 19-year-old dun gelding have represented the South Union Hunt Branch in IPC dressage competitions.

Category 1 rider Finola Craven recorded a score of 66.67 on the sole registered horse in the class, Oilean Hitachi, her 11-year-old grey Irish Draught gelding by Young Carrabawn.

All classes staged in Arena 1 in the morning were judged by Joan Ahern whose comfortable winner of the six-runner Novice DI24 was Category 2 rider Keelan Lynch on the Dutch Warmblood gelding Harley (72.67). Owned by Sharon Lynch, this 17-year-old bay is by the Bavarian stallion, RUFS Harry Potter.

Lynch and Harley had to settle for third (64.26%) in the Elementary DI51 behind Cliona Ni Liathain riding the ISH mare MJI Lady Alceis (66.48) and Michaela Steyn Keating on board JJ Lady Gregory (65). The winning 10-year-old, who is by Antaeus, was bred in Co Antrim by former international event rider turned dressage judge Joanne Jarden out of her Island Blaze mare Thistledown.

The last-named was a half-sister to the Macrocket gelding Drunken Disorderly on whom Mark Kyle completed Badminton and Burghley (twice) and with whom he represented Ireland at the Athens Olympics and two European championships.

Ni Liathain and MJI Lady Alceis also won (64.53%) the three-strong Novice DI65 where their closest rivals on 64.06 were Gavin Smiddy and his eight-year-old OBOS Quality 004 gelding DSH Showtime (CCI3*-S).


Also before Ahern, uncontested wins were recorded by Laura Hagger and her 21-year-old bay mare Motown (67.06%) in the Inter I, by Laragh Byrne and the German riding pony Steendieks Dali Gold, a nine-year-old palomino gelding by Don’t Worry, in the FEI Pony Team (73.43) and Individual (65.54) tests and by Jessica Grogan riding Hagger’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Christianson, a 17-year-old chesnut son of Briar, in the FEI Junior Team (70.3) and Individual (73.24) tests.

Ahern had also been on duty at Lee Valley where her winner of the 11-strong Preliminary DI5 was the unregistered combination of Sarah Lyons and Jimmy (70%).

The sole registered pairing was Category 2 rider Gwyn Holmes with the Dutch Warmblood gelding Mayfly (67.59), a six-year-old dark bay son of Casago.

The previously-mentioned Niamh O’Carroll and Castlelawn scored 66.55% in the three-runner Novice DI26 here with Ahern’s top score of 68.97 being awarded to the unregistered combination of Sylvia Curtis and the Connemara gelding Barravalley Lightening, an 11-year-old grey by Templebready Fear Bui.

Ahern also judged one of the three Trailblazers’ classes, awarding Amber Lane 73.45% for her Junior Novice DI test on the part-bred Welsh gelding Barkway State Affair, a Rotherwood Statesman bay who is still catching the eye at 19 years of age.

While that win was uncontested, Lane and Barkway State Affair faced three rivals in the Preliminary DI6 where Naomi Donoghue awarded them her winning score of 74.42% while she had just one combination to assess in the third Trailblazers’ class, the Senior Preliminary DI6, where Eimear Mahoney scored 64.23 on Helen Cadogan’s Connemara gelding Ballyard Silver Dun, an eight-year-old grey by Capparoe Lad.

Donoghue’s other winners were Clara Nyhan with the diminutive 20-year-old skewbald gelding Oreo Spring (79.41%) in the Intro B, Lily McLaughlin on Comet (72.86) in the Intro C and Mahoney and Ballyard Silver Dun again in the New To Dressage class (55).

Donoghue also judged the three-runner Preliminary DI6 where Katarzyna Stasiak-Rogalska claimed the spoils on the part-bred Welsh mare Bathleyhills Daylight, an 11-year-old dun daughter of Bathleyhills Monet.