THE sun shone for the National Hound Show at Stradbally Hall, courtesy of the Cosby family, with Adrian, his son Thomas and granddaughter Charlotte on hand to present prizes to the winning combinations.

Adrian’s brother David, a keen hunting man, also a well-known breeder of show horses and eventers, was attending the Irish Draught Horse Show in the adjoining field, a breed that is so essential to producing typical Irish hunters for the hunting field.

As usual the arrangements were perfectly organised by Show Chairman David Lalor MFH and his team with three well-appointed showing rings, foxhounds, harriers and beagles, marquees and trade stands catering for the needs of the hunting fraternity.

Some recent changes reported were Dr Cathal Cassidy of the South Tyrone is a new joint-master of the Meath Foxhounds, a pack he hunted with over the years. Massachusetts restaurateur Scott Caskey joins the East Galway mastership while Gary Kelly has taken over hunting the Kilkenny Foxhounds and young Ronan Molony is hunting the West Wicklows. Myles O’Connor from The Island is the new huntsman of the Old Berks in Oxfordshire. There was also a presentation for long time PRO of the IMFHA, Sonya Purcell who has retired, and has been hunting regularly with the Galway Blazers.

Foxhound ring

Eighteen packs had entries in the foxhounds with the doghounds, judged by Jeremy Reed of the Flint & Denbigh and Philip Cowan of the Fernie. The bitches were judged in the afternoon by Andrew Osborne, chairman of the MFHA (GB), and Guy Landau of the South Devon, the latter a frequent judge at the Dublin Horse Show.

Stradbally has a habit of providing ‘A Day in the Sun’ for most packs, and this year it was the past pupils of the South Tyrone Foxhounds who shone brightest. This was because the Louths’ huntsman Lloyd Parr who won five classes, two reserves and a championship and Paddy Considine, who won the Bitch Championship, previously whipped into Ryan Carvill, huntsman of the South Tyrone Foxhounds who himself won the Doghound Championship with Harold ’22 (by Ranger ’17 out of Hazard ’18). Lloyd had Darren McKeever, a grandson of former Louth huntsman Michael McKeever, and Daniel and Mark Parr assisting.

However, all packs shared in the rosettes as they help each other with their breeding programmes. This was the case with the winners of the Entered Couple of Doghound winners Kildare Buckshot and Gardner ’21. They are by East Galway Combat ’16 that former East Galway huntsman Liam McAlinden bred. He goes back to Morpeth Painter and back again to Westmeath Copper, one of the best hunting hounds that former master and huntsman John Smith bred.

In the Doghound classes, the Louths won four classes, plus a Championship, with Tipperary, Kildare, Kilkenny South Tyrone and Meath all featuring. Tipperary and Meath also collected a Reserve Championship each.

In the Bitch classes, Kildare, Louth, Duhallow, Kilkenny, and Limerick all shared the honours with the East Down, winning the Two Couple of Bitches Class with Beverage, Beauty, Party and Parasol.

Owner of Stradbally Hall, Adrian Cosby, presented The Irish Field Perpetual Trophy for the Best Unentered Bitch Old English Class to Louth huntsman Lloyd Parr with Ticket ’22. However, the loudest cheer came when Paddy Considine, huntsman of the County Clare’s bitch Buttercup, was declared the Bitch Champion. Paddy has only been showing for three years at Stradbally and fellow huntsman quickly stepped forward to shake his hand, while his partner Aoibhinn Bannon and their children Pippa and Henry were at the ringside.

Harrier ring

The harrier judges were Robert Hodge of the East Antrim and Emma Ryan of the Suir Vale with the classes well managed by Caitriona Conlon and Garry McCarthy.

Two packs dominated the classes, the Fermanagh Harriers won five classes including the Championship with Bovril, with the reserve going to Ballyluskey & White Heather Saddler. The Scarteen had a field day in the Bitch classes, winning five classes including the Champion Harrier with Morley with the reserve going to Cork National Music.

One of the busiest and most popular classes was the Young Handlers, who despite their young age, were well practiced in the skill of presenting hounds well for the judges. The class was won by Vinnie Simpson with Ballylusky White Heather Saddler and Aoibheann Donohoe, daughter of Kevin Donohoe, the Ballymacad huntsman, with Ballymacad Magic.

Beagle ring

The beagle judges were Lee Swan-Beaverland, former master of the Sunnyland and Liam Geary, former master of the Tory Foot Harriers. A welcome visitor was Philomena Byrne, wife of the late Kevin Byrne, master of the Goldburns from 1987-2003 who died in office. Again all packs were in the ribbons with some outstanding performances by Richard Bonham of the Lakeland Foot with three classes and two reserve championships.

However, seasoned campaigner Paul Kerr of Mr Kerr’s Beagles showed he has not lost his touch with two classes as well as a championship, a Reserve Championship, and winning a really innovative class, that of Best Group of Dam or Sire and Two Progeny with Foreman ’19, Careful ’22 and Choosy ’22.

The Supreme Champion Beagle of the Show was Maryboro/Midleton Tackle ’22 (by Tanner ’14 out of Stacey ’18) with the reserve going to Mr Kerr’s Porter ’20 by Sailor ’14 out of Pittance ’16.