Colorado Blue in Horse of Year final

THE Equiratings Horse of the Year 2023 saw a start list of eight top event horses going up against each other, namely Mai Baum (Tamie Smith USA), Ballaghmor Class (Oliver Townend GBR), Vendredi Biats (Kitty King GBR), Diabolo Menthe (Nicolas Touzaint FRA), Lordships Graffalo (Ros Canter GBR), HSH Blake (Caroline Pamukcu USA), Colorado Blue (Austin O’Connor IRL) and Virgil (Shane Rose AUS). It was then whittled down to four and then two; with the final two both being Irish-bred, Ballaghmor Class and Colorado Blue.

Ballaghmor Class claimed his third five-star win this year at Burghley, making him one of only 12 horses in the history of the sport to win three or more, in a career that is one of the longest five-star-winning careers in eventing history. Ballaghmor Class is well-known as a five-star warrior and absolute workman.

Meanwhile, Colorado Blue and Austin O’Connor went head-to-head with Lordships Graffalo in the cross-country phase at Badminton this year. Colorado Blue was fastest on the day in testing conditions, which resulted in the first Badminton podium place for an Irish combination in 40 years.

Colorado Blue went on to win at Maryland, where he jumped double clear to produce the first five-star win for Ireland in 58 years. Voting has now closed with a result expected soon.

Irish feature in FEI monthly rankings

THE FEI Rankings Monthly Update has been released. While there are few changes at the top of the various disciplines, there are notable rankings for Irish athletes.

In the show jumping rankings, Shane Sweetnam is in 10th place, with five Irish in the top 20; the other four being Daniel Coyle (14th), Conor Swail (15th), Darragh Kenny (17th) and Bertram Allen (20th). These rankings represent minor shifts both up and down, but Ireland is definitely holding its own.

In the Under 25 show jumping rankings, Harry Allen is in ninth place, followed by Michael Pender in 11th, Max Wachman in 14th, Seamus Hughes-Kennedy in 18th (a huge climb from 32nd) and Jason Foley in 20th.

In the combined show jumping rankings (horse and rider), Shane Sweetnam is in the top 10 again, sitting in ninth place with James Kann Cruz; Conor Swail and Theo 160 follow closely behind in 11th, while Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro are currently 12th.

While there are no top 20 rankings to report in dressage, para dressage sees Michael Murphy in seventh place, with Ireland 12th in the team rankings. Austin O’Connor is the highest ranked Irish rider in eventing, sitting in 22nd place in the world, while Susannah Berry has made a huge leap from 48th to 17th in the North Western Europe zone.

Clifden sales dates confirmed

CONNEMARA Pony Sales have confirmed dates for their 2024 Sales. They look forward to welcoming everyone back to Clifden for what promises to be another great year on the following dates;

February 10th and 11th; April 6th; May 17th, 18th and 19th; August 23rd, 24th and 25th; September 22nd; October 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th; November 30th and December 1st.

Body protector rule update

AIRC Members are reminded that from January 1st, 2024, the BETA 2009 Level 3 body protector (Purple Label) will no longer be accepted for any AIRC activity.

The BETA 2018 Level 3 body protector will be the only accepted standard for AIRC activities. For more information on body protectors and standards, visit the BETA website.

The AIRC has also published the list of dressage tests for next year’s AIRC National Championships on its website. Members should note that copies of tests are not available from National Office, so please contact your club secretary.

Breeding Grant Applications open

THE Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) 2024 Breeding Grant Initiative is now open for applications. This scheme supports funding for breeding and production initiatives for young horse classes and production events.

A number of criteria will be considered; these can be found on the HSI website.

Applications will be accepted via the online form ONLY and must be submitted by 2pm on Wednesday, January 10, 2024. For further details, please email:

Allocation of funding is subject to the approval of the Breeding Grant Initiative from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

FEI Pony Measuring portal open

THE portal is now open for FEI Pony Measuring 2024, where ponies can be entered for the measuring. These measuring sessions will take place on Wednesday, January 24; Thursday, January 25 and Friday, January 26, 2024 in Cavan Equestrian Centre.

FEI Pony owners should be aware that this is the only FEI measuring session that will take place in Ireland in 2024, so they should ensure that their ponies are presented for measuring.

Those who intend to compete for the first time in 2024 in FEI competitions will need to present to an FEI Measuring Session.

Owners should read FEI Guidance on FEI Pony Measuring. All ponies should be FEI registered for 2024. For enquiries, please contact: – place FEI Pony Measuring in the subject line.