THE 2022 Stepping Stones to Success League reached its conclusion in brilliant sunshine at Wexford Equestrian on Tuesday when there were some excellent performances over the Pat Peare-designed tracks in the Derby Arena.
Peare’s wife, and series organiser, Orla Roche was disappointed for the sponsor of the pony producers’ class, EquiJump Ltd, that there was no one available to represent them at the final but they did have the good excuse of setting up for the four-day show in Portmore.
“Childeric’s Tricia Bracegirdle came over from England and she was here all day along with the company’s Ireland rep, Elliott Reeves. Childeric sponsored the four- and five-year-old classes and they had the perfect result as the winning riders, Luke Drea and Sian Coleman, both compete in their saddles.
“Anne O’Connor was on hand to represent Treo Eile, sponsor of the thoroughbred class, and I think the main thing which struck her was that this series is for raced and unraced horses who are new to eventing – not those with experience behind them. As usual, we were very grateful to the Irish Horse Welfare Trust who gave a €250 cash prize for the highest-placed horse off the track.
“This year, we received additional sponsorship from Horse Sport Ireland for all but the thoroughbred class and not only were the owners of the winners and placed horses rewarded but also the breeders of the three winners.”
While Roche paid tribute to all those who gave up their time to judge during the series, she made special mention of English international event rider J.P. Sheffield who has been a longtime supporter of the Stepping Stones league and judged the cross-country phase on Tuesday. “J.P. came in on the 2.45am ferry, arriving here with the three horses he is competing at Ballindenisk this weekend and, having judged all day, he set off to the event. As usual, he offered a week’s training bursary to the leading young rider, Molly Flanagan, who also received the Jessica Harrington trophy.”
This year there was a new award in memory of Tiggy Hancock for riders under 18, offering lessons with Ian Fearon, Sally Corscadden and Mark Ruddock. This was won by Co Wicklow’s Jasper Kelly who was a friend of Tiggy’s.