THE Newcastle Lyons Branch, which has only 55 members, punched well above its weight at the Irish Pony Club’s national dressage day, which was staged last Friday at the CoilÓg Equestrian Centre, Co Kildare.

As testament to the coaching they receive from Fiona Hayes and Sonya McCormack, plus their own commitment to dressage, all representatives finished inside the top 10 in the eight competition classes, with four of them heading the final leaderboard in their respective divisions.

“We were thrilled with the results and delighted with the way all the children rode,” commented Anita Blake, joint-District Commissioner of the Newcastle Lyons Branch. “All our members are very active and we put a lot of emphasis on dressage, as it’s the foundation of all other disciplines.”

The first of the winning quartet to strike was Isabelle Smith, who landed Section A of the Under 12s’ competition judged by Derval Diamond (List 3), on Whats It All About (75%), a 16-year-old dun gelding with whom she has done a small amount of registered show jumping. This is a combination of a very capable young rider and a steady, reliable pony.

Co Limerick’s Lucy Ryan won Section B by an eight-point margin on her father John’s Connemara gelding Kilmaine Bay (78%) with whom she picked up 16 Showjumping Ireland points last season. This eight-year-old dun by Caherlistrane Bay was bred by Mary Connolly out of the Cloughill Island mare, Baby Bird.


The winners of both divisions of the Junior competition, judged by Jean Halpenny (List 4), represented Newcastle Lyons.

Narrowly missing out on achieving a 70% score, Finn Breen became the only boy to win on the day, when he topped the final leaderboard in Section A on Goldengrove Morsecode (69.81%).

Breen also competes the bay at Trailblazers’ level with Dressage Ireland – the combination had qualified for the weekend’s TB Novice championship at the DI winter finals, which were cancelled on Saturday morning because of the weather – and with SJI. As his name would suggest, this 16-year-old Welsh gelding by Hollyoak Czar was bred in Co Tipperary by Claire Scott out of Lemonshill Charisma (by Cottrell Artiste).

Also due to compete at the DI winter finals in Mullingar, where she had qualified for TB Preliminary and Novice championships, Lucy Ferris achieved the highest score in Section B on Queen Cassie (69.04%). Twelve-year-old Ferris and the 18-year-old grey mare also compete in Pony Club eventing and, when the weather relents, they are ready to make their EI debuts.


Lucy’s two-year-older sister Abbey travelled to CoilÓg as the reigning Junior champion and left with the Intermediate title, having achieved the top combined score (70.52%) of judges Bernie Webb (List 3a) and Clare Fitzsimmons (List 4). Once again riding the Connemara gelding How Ya Sammy, Ferris finished ahead of her Newcastle Lyons clubmate Louise Maguire, who scored 69.83% on Harry’s Silver Boy, and Tipperary’s Mary Kennedy on Boolavogue Blue Jay (67.07).

The elder Ferris was also due to compete at the DI winter finals having qualified Connaght Curlew for the Junior Preliminary Category 1 championship and How Ya Sammy for the Junior Novice Category 1 championship, which they won at last year’s DI national championships. Ferris also campaigned the eight-year-old Woodfield Sammy gelding with EI last year, winning three of their EI80 starts, finishing second once and third on their final outing of the season at the EI national championships at Kilguilkey House in early September.