THE Irish Pony Club/Mackey Equestrian national hunter trials championships left their ‘home’ for the past four seasons, Ballinaboola, Co Wexford, to return to one of their previous venues, the Furnell family’s Ballycahane Equestrian Centre in Crecora, Co Limerick.

However, it was just a flying visit for the Owen Kehoe cup which travelled back to the sunny south-east – its abode for the past 12 months – having been won for the second year in succession by the Wexford Branch whose winning Wonderbolts trio comprised Heather Costello (Zippyup), Cora Finn (Shakespeares Romeo Montague) and Molly Hennessy Murphy (My Late Find).

Disappointingly, just four teams contested the ‘teams of three’ competition which used to be much more popular among members of the IPC. However, this shouldn’t take away from the Wexfords’ victory as the girls, all aged 13, were by far the youngest team to take on the 1.05m track which was both strong and technical.

The trio picked up 10 faults in their round, as did the Scarteen Incredibles who were the only other team to finish. But the Wexfords were much the quicker, stopping the clock on 7m 35secs, while Jessie O’Sullivan, Lisa Curtin and Jennifer Curtin did so in 8.02.

Delighted with another success for the Branch, the Wexford’s District Commissioner Karen Hennessy pointed out that the Wonderbolts had competed last year, when they were just 12, that Heather Costello is a sister of Caolan Costello, who was on last season’s winning team, and that Cora Finn and Molly Hennessy Murphy had been members of the Wexford squad who won the Junior team competition at last month’s Irish Pony Club/Connolly’s Red Mills eventing championships at Tattersalls.

“Heather, Cora and Molly are also three of our Tetrathlon kids and they were delighted to see John Flood at Crecora as they have been training with him in the past year,” said Hennessy.

“This latest win finishes off what has been a red-rosette year for the Wexford Pony Club with no less than four national titles and many national placings for its members. This success is down to the dedication of the members, their parents, grandparents, families, supporters and instructors.”

Sibling win

Jed Collins, another keen Tetrathlete, joined forces with his sister Ellen to win the Senior pairs competition, and the Farrell family Cup, for the Ward Union Branch while individual honours at this level went to Co Clare’s Aine Lane riding Jacksons Golden Dusk.

Members of The Kingdom Branch are always prepared to travel from their Co Kerry base but Ellie Holmes and Jessica Fuller didn’t have too long a journey this time on their way to winning the Intro Intermediate pairs’ competition. Here, the individual championship went the way of Muskerry’s Laura O’Sullivan on Harle du Puissant.

Lily Redmond and Alannah Bailey proved themselves well-named when, as the Carlow Stars, they won the Junior pairs’ competition while Kevin Healy struck for the boys, and his Westmeath Branch, when comfortably landing the individual title on Kilbunny Kabana.

Another ‘Star’ duo, that of Orla Verkade and Elaine Whelton, topped the Under 12s pairs championships for the Carbery Branch with The Kingdom Branch striking for a second time on the day in the individual championship through Kate Murnane and Coolrahnee Crazy.

After an equality of faults, the results at this level were decided on those pairs/individuals who completed nearest the optimum time.

Big effort

After the championships, the IPC’s chairman of eventing, Ivan Hatton, thanked his fellow committee members, the Furnell family, Mackey Equestrian, the IPC office staff and Limerick racecourse which permitted members stable their horses/ponies overnight.

“To all our competitors and members, thank you so much for all the hard work, training, and effort you put in to compete in these events and for the amazing spirit you show throughout all competitions. You are all amazing ambassadors and a credit to your families and our sport,” continued Hatton.

“To the volunteers, trainers, branch members and family members, thank you all so much for being the glue that holds our Pony Club together at all levels. The way you sacrifice your valuable free time and the support and commitment you show does not go unnoticed and is appreciated more than we can say.

“You are the foundation that our organisation is built upon and continues to grow because of this solid footing.”