IT was the year the showing scene went back to full throttle after the surreal lockdown years of a pandemic. For many, showing is somewhat of an addiction, although increasing costs were weighed up by even the most dedicated exhibitors with a knock-on effect in some sections.
Youngstock classes in particular often had poor entries and the final championships of the day were often judged by mid-afternoon.
Tiernan Gill, a great supporter of every level of the horse world, summed up succinctly what the Sunday show is all about (see What They Said) at Westport. His Flogas Oilily won her first young horse title of 2022 at Newmarket-on-Fergus and ended the agricultural show season on a similar winning note at Ballinasloe.
Regina Daly’s two-year-old Strike The Pose was another of the summer’s big winners, clocking up wins at Balmoral, Charleville and the Brian Boru young horse title at Clarecastle.
Ridden classes sprang back in force and Grace Maxwell Murphy and William McMahon’s home-bred Gleann Rua Da Vinci had a particularly stellar season in hunter championships, including the Dublin win, before his sale. His new owner Jill Day had another talking horse of 2022, this time on the cross-channel circuit in the all-conquering View Point, who bowed out after another HOYS supreme title.
Daphne Tierney, another great patron of show horses, recorded a rare Balmoral, Bannow and Dublin treble with her three-year-old pair. Bloomfield Breagura (co-owned with his breeder Jane Bradbury, who also bred this year’s HOYS hack champion, his half-sister Ballinclare) started off with that Balmoral win.
Two months later, his home-bred stable companion Bloomfield Watergate landed one of the most challenging of all young horse championships to capture; the All Ireland final at Bannow & Rathangan, before his Dublin young horse title in August.
At the youngest end of the equine scale, long-awaited All Ireland titles in the ISA foal finals were won at Clarecastle and Ballinasloe by Michael Dooner (sport horse colt), Sean Scannell (Irish Draught colt) and Kenny Bell (Irish Draught filly) while Danielle & Louise Cusack’s Dublin-winning filly Brittas Lady Grace (sport horse filly) rounded off this year’s foal champions in the Moate-hosted final.
At the traditional foal finals at Mountbellew, Derry Rothwell’s filly was the overall champion ahead of Dooner’s colt foal. Rothwell’s foal and her dam Greenhall Wishing Well were also this year’s traditional foal and Limerick Matron champion at Limerick Show. Ian Murphy’s Barnaview Dancing Queen was crowned there as the Limerick Lady champion for traditionally bred two-year-old fillies.
Racehorse to riding horse classes were again well supported. Joyce McConnell’s Easy Pleased won at Balmoral and Seanin Mahon’s Dublin winner General Principle went on to win the popular Treo Eile open series final at Lambertstown where Philippa Scott’s Milliner was the series novice champion.
Showing Ireland’s Champion of Champions final at Tattersalls saw Gleann Rua Da Vinci’s winning streak continue in the ridden hunter category; Pat Loughlin’s The Peaky Blinder won the ridden horse championship (and also the Dublin cob championship) and Suzanne O’Brien’s Prince of Diamonds was crowned amateur champion at these finals.
Robbie and Cashelbay Kate, the supreme champion at the 2022 Clifden Connemara Pony Show \ Susan Finnerty
In native breed results, three memorable doubles were recorded throughout this year’s Connemara and Irish Draught championships.
Robbie Fallon had not one but two Clifden home-bred champions in Cashelbay Kate (supreme) and Cashelbay Rocket (ridden), while Liam Lynskey’s DS Bounce With Me Baby brought off a Balmoral-Dublin double in the Irish Draught broodmare championships.
Another Irish Draught dual champion was Ian and Jenny Williams’ horse-of-a-lifetime Gneeve King William, the Irish Draught ridden and performance champion at Balmoral.
Going one better and recording a treble was Jimmy Quinn’s Cappa Cassanova, his Dublin triple-winning Irish Draught stallion, while another stallion, Seán Barker’s Gortfree Lakeside Lad, clinched a fourth Dublin title in Sunday’s working hunter championship.
Man of the Moment: 100-year-old Rob Hare with Jane Robinson, Maureen Richardson and Hanna McDowell at the Dublin Horse Show \ Susan Finnerty
Dublin was also where two of the winningmost mares in showring history: Patrick Wafer’s Parkmore Evita and three-time RDS Irish Draught champion mare Elm View, owned by Seamus Sloyan, retired from the showring. Silver View, Elm View’s daughter and potential successor, was this year’s All Ireland Irish Draught two-year-old filly champion at Limerick.
Next to the Midlands Connemara Pony Breeders flagship show where the All Ireland broodmare champion was Cathy Snow and Martin Coyne’s Kilpatrick Snowdrop, dam of this year’s Clifden foal champion Moorlands Snowdrift.
Alicia Devlin Byrne’s superb Connemara ambassador Blackwood Fernando added the MCPB working hunter championship to his Balmoral and Clifden titles and Thomasina O’Reilly’s gazelle-like Rosscon Camille won the ridden championship.
Clonmore Blaithin, owned by Ireland’s youngest show secretary Colin Doyle from Moate, was the champion foal at this show, synonymous with the late Ruth Rogers, where Robert Nee’s Glencoaghan Rachel’s Girl stood overall supreme champion.
Grace Maxwell Murphy’s dream year continued when Glencarrig Princess Ella was the supreme champion at the Connemara Pony of the Year charity show. It all happened in 2022 too for newly-weds Bryan and Niamh O’Halloran whose Cabra Jane was junior champion at that show in Duffy’s Equestrian Centre and then went on to win the All Ireland filly final at Ballinasloe.
Maurice Wafer sinks to his knees on the hallowed turf of Ring 1 after his uncle Patrick's Parkmore Evita, with a Tyson filly foal Parkmore Tyra, successfully defends her The Irish Field Breeders Championship with editor of The Irish Field, Leo Powell, in the background \ Susan Finnerty
Among several Irish-bred wins in the HOYS spotlight in October, the standout result was once again View Point’s supreme horse title. Sean Jones too won back-to-back Star of the Month awards for breeding the Birmingham supremo.
One of the final outings was the IPS Foal of the Year Show where Marian Judge’s smart coloured foal Waterglades Baileys On Ice was the supreme champion. At the IPS annual championships, the Amanda Torrens-owned and Katie Wyse-partnered Leave It To You was the supreme champion at its new Necarne Castle venue.
The Department of Community and Rural Development funding, plus Horse Sport Ireland breeding grants provided a financial reboot for agricultural shows. ISA president Catherine Gallagher handed over the chain of office to Arva Show’s Raymond Brady after her three-year term, one which spanned some major challenges for agricultural shows.
More challenges undoubtedly lie ahead in 2023, however come springtime, owners, producers and show committees step up to do it all over again.
All Smiles: Tiernan Gill and Flogas Oilily, the young horse champion at Westport \ Susan Finnerty
THE YEAR OF DA VINCI: Winning with a home-bred is doubly satisfying and Gleann Rua Da Vinci just kept on chalking up titles throughout the summer. Starting with his championship win at Athenry in May, Grace and William McMahon’s seven-year-old was champion at Vincent Holian’s brainchild Showing Show of the Year at Mullingar, the All Ireland hunter title at Ardrahan, Tattersalls, Flavours of Fingal and then the middleweight and supreme hunter crowns at Dublin.
ON PARADE: Taking part in the traditional parade of champions through the streets of Clifden at the end of show day is a dream for Connemara exhibitors. For Robbie Fallon, there was not one but two home-breds: the ridden champion Cashelbay Rocket, with Michael Harty on board, leading off the parade and the supreme champion Cashelbay Kate, with her owner-breeders Robbie and Barbara Fallon. A special moment.
PARKMORE EVITA: She first appeared in the Irish Horse World pages back in 2013 as a three-year-old when Parkmore Evita was the young horse champion at Gorey Show.
Since then, Patrick Wafer’s home-bred Ghareeb mare has quite simply won everything there is to be won in broodmare classes. And then there’s her two All Ireland champion foals: Parkmore La Vie and Parkmore Tyson.
During her swansong summer, she won two lucrative broodmare showcases: the Horse Sport Ireland broodmare class at Charleville, where she and her Tyson filly Parkmore Tyra qualified for The Irish Field Breeders Championship, and then added the Banner broodmare championship at Clarecastle to her record.
Her final red rosette was collected at Dublin where she and Parkmore Tyra won the Breeders Championship eventing section. That win sealed the second part of a remarkable double in The Irish Field Breeders Championship for the Wafer family, from Carnew. Immediately beforehand, Linda Wafer’s Hot To Touch and her Quality Time colt had won the show jumping section.
“SHOWING REDESIGNED” read the headline about a day that had Michael Slattery’s hallmark attention to detail and vision stamped all over my outstanding show of the summer. Even the most careful planning can’t guarantee atmosphere and good weather, however Clarecastle had both in abundance.
From the presentation of Clarecastle Medals to Valerie Thorington, Paddy Joe Foy and the inimitable commentator Michael Slavin for their contribution to the Irish show scene; the final judging engagement for another showing stalwart Peter Molloy, through to the imaginative format for the Brian Boru young horse championship, a stallion nominations draw amongst the Banner Broodmare entries down to finishing touches such as the takeaway tot of Irishman whiskey, the day just sparkled.
SPARKING JOY: Looking back through the Irish Horse World section and results sections to start off the reviews is a reminder of what a valuable resource they are.
Reciting a list of every summer champion is do-able, however its often looking back through the anecdotes and ‘Kodak moments’ in the archives that make up the show world’s bigger picture.
And after two years off, we needed some feel-good stories such as the visit in July of Dallas star Patrick Duffy to his namesake cousin and Irish Draught breeder James in Kilmovee; Joan Ruttle buying a broodmare instead of an air fryer during lockdown and qualifying her for the Breeders Championship; hearing at Charleville of Kate Jarvey’s philanthropic work; clusters of friends, seated at Balmoral’s ringside tables, catching up; a wealth of successful breeders at the West Clare show and the look of pride on Bernard Killeen’s face while leading Edel Curtin’s horses at a show.
Longford County, where a photo was unearthed of Eddie Macken at his first show, was also the setting for a particularly lovely photo of three generations of the Whyte family. More July highlights included the electric atmosphere of the Bannow main ring before the All Ireland final kicked off and Ballina, where material for three Breeders 10 features - Padraic Judge, Brian Finan and Marian Judge - and the story of young entrepreneur Sarah Kelly was discovered.
Dublin’s scenes included an overjoyed Frances Hatton after Gibeon won the Croker Cup and Dessie Gibson’s reaction to a long-awaited Coote Cup win with his broodmare champion Pink Flamingo.
More hits on The Irish Field socials during Horse Show Week included a beaming 100-year-old Robert Hare and Laura Snow, the co-owners and breeders of Drynam Hero; Liam Lynskey with bowler hat raised aloft on his lap of honour with DS Bounce With Me Baby and an equally ecstatic Seamus Wafer on his knees in Ring 1 after Parkmore Evita’s win.
Hats off: Liam Lynskey on his lap of honour with DS Bounce With Me Baby, the Irish Draught mare champion at the 2022 Dublin Horse Show \ Susan Finnerty
What they said
“WESTPORT Show was one of my first shows. I remember always getting Friday off school to jump the ponies in the grounds of Westport House and when I got there, looking at Eddie Macken and Paul Darragh’s Carrolls Showjumping red and white trucks and being in awe. My first championship ever won was at Westport. This weekend was busy, we had horses jumping in Mullingar and Westport and also with Cameron Hanley in Germany We chose going to Westport because if you don’t support the local show, how will they grow?” - Tiernan Gill on supporting grassroots shows.
“CLIFDEN is the Olympics for Connemara ponies.” - GAA legend Joe Connolly during the official opening of the 97th annual Connemara Pony Breeders Society show at Clifden.
“THIS [supreme title] has been the best week of my lifetime, second only to my wife Barbara and our four children. And for it to happen in the famous Clifden Show, my home ground in Connemara, where I was born and raised. My heart always lies there.” - Robbie Fallon.
“YOU had a Badminton breeder [Jenny Glynn], two Olympic horse breeders [Patricia Hassett and Tommy Fitzpatrick] and the [Blake] family of this year’s Irish Grand National winner. Not bad for a little show by the lake in West Clare!” - West Clare Horse Show commentator Simon Clancy’s summary of a remarkable ringside gathering.
“IT was only when I tied the pony up for washing that I realised I hadn’t any shampoo!” - Lack of match practise kicked in for one exhibitor.
“EDDIE, we soldiered together, we travelled many a mile.” - Paddy Joe Foy paid tribute to the late Irish Draught breeder Eddie Murphy at Westport.
“THAT was an incredible achievement for two mares [The Irish Field Breeders Championship winning duo of Parkmore Evita and Hot To Touch] who share the same paddock.” - Patrick Wafer.
“I THINK we’re lucky in the sense that a lot of the feeding and preparation was already done for this year. But if the price of feed and diesel continues to go up, next year will tell a different tale.” - Crossmolina exhibitor Des O’Donnell’s prediction about how rising costs will have an impact in 2023.