AS the dust settled on the five days of top class equestrian action at the RDS Dublin Horse Show last Sunday evening, competitors were already turning their attention to the big equestrian events taking place this week in Millstreet, Co Cork, and Clifden, Co Galway. All in, the three events are estimated to be worth about €60 million to the Irish economy.
The Dublin Horse Show, worth an estimated €50 million to the capital city, attracted over 110,000 visitors over the five days and saw over €1.3 million in prize money paid out to exhibitors across the board.
Dublin Horse Show Director, Pat Hanly, commented on the week. “The crowds were in line with last year’s figures which would have been the strongest in years so we are hugely happy that we maintained and maybe added a small percentage of the crowd. In terms of atmosphere on grounds, it was great during the week.
“There was a resurgence in the Working Hunter ponies, the showing classes were stronger than ever, the numbers have come back right across all of the arenas. In the show jumping age classes, there is huge talk about the depth of quality right throughout. The work we did with Festina Lente is really broadening the base of the show and it is going from strength to strength.”
Hanly thanked the volunteers who made the week happen, saying: “There is huge pressure on staffing everywhere and we are very fortunate that we have a loyal group of volunteers, stewards, who come back every year and I was never more aware of it than this year.”
In terms of changes coming down the line, Hanly said the show would have to embrace IT more in the coming year and, with planning permission approved for the €50 million redevelopment of the Anglesea Stand confirmed on August 4th, he said the work will begin on that project immediately after the 2024 Dublin Horse Show, which takes place from August 14th to 18th.
It was also confirmed earlier in the month that, from next year, Dublin will not be part of the new Longines FEI League of Nations Series which will replace the Longines FEI Nations Cup Series as we know it. However, the Aga Khan Nations Cup will still be the cornerstone of the popular show and details on new avenues and sponsors for the show are expected to be announced in the coming months.
Hanly commented: “The RDS have developed a new strategy, set off on developing a new campus masterplan. We will have a new strategy for the show and with that will come some changes. The development of the new stand will start immediately after next year’s show.”
International visitors from as far flung as Australia, America and all around Europe travelled in their droves to Clifden, the ‘capital of Connemara’, this week for the four-day Connemara Pony Festival which ran from Tuesday to Friday.
In the Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society’s 100th year, the main event of the in-hand pony classes took place on Wednesday (see piece on Clifden champion below), while many of the living past champions were paraded in the middle of the day in a lovely tribute to the native breed.
Coming straight after Dublin and extended to four days, following by three days of Connemara Pony Sales at the Clifden Mart, the week brings a multi-million euro boost to the town, with hotels, B&Bs and restaurants booked out, while one shop keeper told The Irish Field it was a “mental busy” week with plenty of international visitors into the shop, adding the weekend brings another set of people for the sales.
Wednesday, August 16th, saw the first day of the two-star international jumping at the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet, marking 50 years of equestrian events at the Duggan family’s Co Cork flagship venue.
The week, which culminates in the €30,000 CSI2* Millstreet Grand Prix on Sunday, boosts a total prize fund of €180,000. The prestigious Millstreet Boomerang Championships for six and seven-year-old horses offers €25,000, with €20,000 for the five-year-old Millstreet Ruby final and €15,000 in the pot for the four-year-old National Discovery.