THE standard of Ireland’s young riders was clear to see in 2022 as they shone at home and on the international circuit against their senior counterparts.

Some young riders earned a place on Nations Cup teams, most impressive was Tipperary teenager Max Wachman who formed part of Ireland’s winning Aga Khan team at the 2022 Dublin Horse Show. Riding the Coolmore Showjumping-owned Berlux Z, he had the crowd on its feet as he looked to be heading for a clear on their Aga Khan debut. However, the front pole of the final fence fell to leave them with a very credible four faults, a score which kept Ireland among the early pacesetters along with France and Switzerland.

Earlier in the year along with Eoin McMahon, Andrew Bourns and Cian O’Connor, Wachman formed part of the Irish team that won the four-star Nations Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival, triumphing for the fourth time in the contest’s 21-year history. Wachman completed an outstanding double clear round to keep the pressure on Canada, posting one of only five double clears in the competition.

At Vejer De La Frontera in Spain, both Wachman and Niamh McEvoy (Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick) were part of the Irish team alongside Kevin Gallagher and O’Connor, who finished fourth of 15 competing teams. At the same venue in October, McEvoy and Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick were victorious in the three-star Grand Prix.

Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan (21) had a tremendous year on the international circuit, earning his place in the international arena at Dublin Horse Show. Among his impressive results was finishing runner-up in the World Cup qualifier at Sharjah, UAE. The Kilkenny rider partnered BBS McGregor, owned and bred by his mother Marguerite. The combination were a key part of the winning Irish Nations Cup team at Abu Dhabi.

Ryan was part of the team, along with Andrew Bourns, Trevor Breen and Mark McAuley, which qualified for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. Ryan was third to go for Ireland with BBS McGregor and a flawless clear all but guaranteed Ireland’s place in the final. Ryan went on to clock up a series of impressive results at world-class shows in 2022.

Other young riders posting impressive results include Carlow’s Jason Foley who won the two-star Grand Prix at Oliva, Spain aboard Rockwell RC.

Mullingar’s Alanna Fagan and Ballycarrick Lass (ISH) had a great year in the Children on Horses section. Among her good results was a win in the 1.25 CSIOCh class at the FEI Jumping Youth Nations Cup at Peelbergen, The Netherlands with a superb round. Kilkenny’s Alice Moloney jumped brilliantly to place third, with Robert Russell finishing inside the top 10. Moloney impressed as she took the speed class at the FEI Youth Nations Cup Finals in Peelbergen.

Medals galore

In the teams division, there was much to celebrate with a podium finish for Irish junior riders in the FEI Nations Cup Final. The team (U18) team of Coen Williams, Emily Moloney, Timmy Brennan and Rhys Williams, managed by James Kernan, finished in third place in the FEI Jumping Youth Nations Cup Final at Peelbergen.

The Irish U18 (Junior) team of Francis Derwin, Rhys Williams, Tom Wachman, Niamh McEvoy and Conor McLaughlin, claimed team bronze at the 2022 FEI European Championships in Oliva, Spain. Wexford’s Harry Allen riding Over Lux (ISH) won individual bronze at the Young Rider Showjumping FEI European Championships hosted at Oliva, Spain.

At Fontainebleau, France the Irish talent struck again as the junior team (U18) of Conor McLaughlin, Joshua Halford, Tommy Halford and Alex Finney finished on the podium in bronze position.

In the Young Rider Grand Prix Future Champions at Hagen, Seamus Hughes Kennedy and Cuffesgrange Cavadora claimed victory in the Young Rider Grand Prix at the Future Champions Show at the German venue.

Ireland’s Niamh McEvoy and Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick (ISH) took victory in the three-star Grand Prix at Vejer De La Frontera in Spain \ Andalucía Sunshine Tour

Balmoral International

At Balmoral International, Niamh McEvoy left her rivals behind as she claimed victory in the £23,000 BottleGreen and Horse Sport Ireland International CSI2* Grand Prix. Niamh also went home with the well-earned leading international rider and leading young rider award. Riding Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick, the Omagh teenager (18) was one of five double clears the eight-way jump-off. Max Wachman returned to the line-up, this time taking third place with Quintini.

Victory in the Holmestead Saddlery 1.45m Stakes was also claimed by Wachman leaving McEvoy to take the runner-up slot. McEvoy also earned her place in the international arena at Dublin with a runner-up finish in the Coolmore SJI Premier Series.

Young rider Emma McEntee led the victory lap in the Red Mills International Spectacular at Balmoral. Riding TFM Blue, she was the fastest of just four double clears while Jason Foley took the honours in the International Accumulator with Cnoc Rua Chinook.

TRM/Showjumpers Club Spring Tour

At the start of the year, Limerick’s Robyn Moran took the crown in the TRM Showjumpers Club Spring Tour at the final hosted at Coilog after a strong performance throughout the league with Cushlas Fryday. Last year, the Limerick young rider came very close to claiming this title having finished runner-up to Emma McEntee, but she made no mistake this time around.

Moran had two mounts in the series, Coolminga Inspector Royal (28 points), and Cushlas Fryday (52 points). Moran also took the leading young rider and became a brand ambassador for TRM Ireland for a 12-month period.

Dublin Horse Show

At Dublin Horse Show, there was an accumulation of talent on show in the Young Rider and Children on Horses division. There wasn’t an empty seat to be had in the stands for the COH individuals.

Following an exciting class, it all came down to a two-way jump-off between Alice Moloney and Alanna Fagan. First to go in the jump-off was Mullingar’s Alanna Fagan (Ballycarrick Lass) and she left nothing to spare. Alice Moloney had no choice but to go for it with Cosima. The young Kilkenny rider got the upper hand to take the title, leaving Fagan to take the reserve place.

In the 1.35/1.40m Young Rider Championship, second to go Lee Carey delivered the winning round with Rhys Williams (Conthanja) taking the runner-up place in what was a very exciting final. Katie McEntee claimed the 1.25/1.30m title with Hip Girl, with Ciara Fives, last to go with Future Storm, claiming second place. In the 1.10m/1.15m young riders Robyn Moran claimed this title with the seven-year-old stallion Fortside Trend with Jodie Creighton (Glenaguile View) taking the runner-up place.

Following a great display of horsemanship, Rhys Williams was chosen as the RDS Bursary winner for 2022. It was a great show for Williams having also claimed Dublin’s seven/eight-year-old championship with Playboy (7yo) along with taking third in the Wednesday qualifier. In July Rhys had formed part of the Irish Junior team (U18) that took bronze at the 2022 FEI European Championships in Oliva.

Gain/Alltech National Grand Prix

Westmeath’s Francis Derwin finished as the overall runner-up in the Gain Equine Nutrition/Alltech National Grand Prix with Killerisk Can Ya. The Althone rider claimed five wins in the exciting league with Killerish Can Ya, Deep Pockets and AHG Whiterock Cruisedown.

In the Coolmore SJI Premier Series, riding AHG Whiterock Cruisedown, he was one of the overall leading young riders and also clocked up a series of good results on the European circuit, which included a three-star win at Vilamoura.

Showjumping Ireland Junior/Young Rider Championships

The SJI National Championships titles were decided at Cavan Equestrian following some tough competition. Sophie Ahearne (Birchill Adelle) was crowned with the Children on Horses Championship title while Emily Moloney (Capitol Cruise) claimed the Junior crown. Yousef Sallam took the Young Rider title. Aherne had claimed two victories over the course of three days while Emily Moloney had finished runner-up twice and took the win in the feature Grand Prix final. Sallam claimed victory in the opening class with Besser Von Tulisa. A fourth-place finish for the combination in the final 1.35m Grand Prix was enough for them to take the 2022 title.

Taking the 1.10m Championship title was Fionnghuala Benson (Chatsworth Danielle), while Jodie Creighton (Glenaguile View) secured the 1.20m title. The 1.30m title returned joint winners in Marta Hughes Bravo (HHS Figero) and Sarah Fitzgerald (HHS Lou).

Irish Breeders’ Classic

Young riders also featured in the prestigious Irish Breeders’ Classic where a great performance from Leah Stack (Laurina) saw her claim the five- and six-year-old final at Barnadown.

The final round the Gain Equine Nutrition/Alltech Grand Prix saw the win go to Lee Carey (Kan Cruise), fastest of just three double-clear rounds.

In the Mervue Equine Leinster Summer Tour, Wexford’s Taylor Peare (Lissyegan Geoffrey) were the leading young riders in the 1.35m section while in the 1.20m section, the overall young rider prize winner was Emily Moloney (Capitol Cruis).