The 31st National Balmoral Championships were an overwhelming success with over 1,500 entries over the 4 days marking a 20 year high for the show. Balmoral Park was a hive of activity for 4 full days beginning early on 14th July with a full day of pony classes, including championships featuring full use of the main arena and a second large arena formed by a combining all horse rings to the delight of competitors.
Alex Finney enjoyed two prominent successes onboard Jean Finney`s Corradino Du Bary when she won both the 1.10m and 1.20m 148cm receiving the prestigious Mandy Lyons Cup. Another combination who are enjoying plenty of ribbons this season is Sarah Doherty’s Sparkling Nina Lass and Oliver Doherty, who picked up the 138 1.10m championship sponsored by McFadden Civils Ltd and the Whitfort cup in the process. The 128 1m Championship was won by Robert Russell onboard Jane Russell’s Munsboro Plunkett sponsored by the Linen Green.
The team of workers behind the scenes had prepared the ground to perfection in anticipation of the glorious sunny weather riders enjoyed throughout the week, resulting in absolutely perfect ground conditions for the International Grade one arena surface. Feedback throughout the show indicated riders delight at the experience and educational advantages their horses gained in both grass arenas with perfect footing ahead of Dublin Horse Show in just a few weeks’ time. The National Balmoral Championships was also one of the 4 qualifying venues for the international entries for Dublin 5* show.
Courses for each class proved well thought out, resourceful, technical and progressive throughout the week, adding to the educational aspect for many horses. The Grand Prix courses inparticular asked a lot of questions with the most notable being the challenging final line in the 140m National Grand Prix. The main arena courses were designed by FEI level 2 International course designer Rafael Suarez, while Colm Quinn did a fantastic job heading up the horse rings arena.
Ulster Region rider Jonathan Smyth was undoubtedly the winner of the show with no less than three feature class wins over the week. The Ballyward Equestrian 1.35m sponsored by Corick House Hotel began his winning form when he fought stiff competition to take the win on Ann Doherty’s Crystal Tom. The headline class of Tuesday afternoon was the Underwriting Exchange National Grand Prix sponsored locally for National Balmoral by Carson Coldstores. As fences reached crowd pleasing heights, Jonathan once again claimed home victory onboard Richard J W Smyth`s Charlton Clio. His final overwhelming victory came on the final day. As spectators numbers grew the atmosphere built ahead of the 1.50m TRM/HSI New Heights Grand Prix, Jonathan battled top class talent from across the country on Noletta Smyth & Roy Craig`s Mulvin Lui to the delight of a home crowd in Balmoral Park when he kept his lead from early on to claim his final triumph of the show. Thanks must go to Roxborough Ltd who provided substantial funds contributing to the prize money at this final grand prix of the show.
The Charles Hurst 1.20m Young Rider champion was Olivia Roulston on Lisa Rosbotham’s Avalent, marking an extremely successful show for Olivia with placings also in the Mulvin Stables 1.30m speed, another win in the R Barkley & Sons 1.10m qualifying class to then go on and win the Wyse Byse 1.10m championship aswell for this talented athlete.
Eddie Moloney made a welcome return to NBC which was supported in the past by his late father Tom, and won the Storm-tec 5 year old championship on Peter O'Toole`s Ardkyle First Edition among a string of qualifying competition placings.
Nicola Fitzgibbon won the McFadden Civils Ltd 1.20m senior championship and as a result received a new trophy to Balmoral, the ‘Vera Frazer memorial trophy’ from Luke Campbell, Vera’s grandson. Nicola Fitzgibbon has been supporting NBC since she competed 12.2’s and was delighted to be the first name inscribed on this beautiful trophy.
Jayne Walmsley and Hollyballoo won the Workman Services 90cm class on Monday, the Killyhevlin Hotel 90cm class on Tuesday, the E.C.Rugs sponsored 1m Class on Tuesday and the Lusk Horse Transport 1m Championship on Wednesday, also receiving the Kinsale Breeze Challenge trophy and the Caitriona Irwin memorial Cup to mark an incredibly successful week for this combination.
The amateur qualifying classes held on Monday afternoon began with the Maddybenny livery Campsite & Cottages UAC class and Horseware Amateur Superleague was a popular competition closing the show that afternoon. Caitriona Cody deserved congratulations claiming victory in both classes on two different horses. The show closed with the KEC amateur championship in the main arena. Most aspects of the course design were held following the previous Grand Prix class putting the qualified amateur combinations to the ultimate test. Taryn McClurkin and Innocense came out trumps claiming the KEC amateur championship with a foot perfect double clear in the fastest time.
Show organisers were complimented by many of the senior riders on a great show, and also the significant effort put in by the National Balmoral Committee in the weeks and months leading up to the show. They we were also delighted to welcome a number of new high-profile sponsors onboard this year who have expressed intention to continue their support in the years ahead, enabling them to build on the success of this year’s show and provide further value and PR to those supporting the show in this capacity.
Following the show, Ray Buchanan Show director commented “It is important to note that shows of this magnitude can only run with the assistance of sponsors; and we are keen to express our gratitude to everyone who contributed in any way towards the show. We are delighted to still be going strong over 30 years after the show’s inception and it would be our intention to continue the show on an annual basis. Ray continued: “With onsite stabling, first class grass arenas, and significant scope for growth at the venue, we believe the level of entries received this week provide a strong indication that the demand is there to support its development and we are excited about the shows potential for growth in the future.”
128 U10 Champions Martin & Tracy Kelly`s Bright Bling, Caitlin Kelly, and, Katheryne McCracken`s Sweet Lily, CPBS, Elizabeth McCracken
128 1m Champion, Jane C P Russell`s Munsboro Plunkett, Robert Russell
138 1.10m Champion Sarah Doherty`s Sparkling Nina Lass, Oliver Doherty
148 1.20m Champion Jean Finney`s Corradino Du Bary, Alex Finney
1.10m / 1.20m COH/Junior Champion Samantha Dale`s Roundthorn Hercules, Jodie Creighton
4YR Old Champion James O'Grady Cathal McMunn`s Cantalupe V/D Holstenhoeve, Cathal Mcmunn
1m Champion Eleanora Cunningham`s Holly Balloo, and Jayne Walmsley
1.10m ChampionLisa Rosbotham`s Novellent, Olivia A Roulston
1.20 YR Champion Philip Rosbotham`s Avalent, Olivia A Roulston
1.20 Senior Championship Nicola FitzGibbon`s Imaran v, Nicola FitzGibbon
5 YR OLD ChampionPeter O'Toole`s Ardkyle First Edition, Eddie Moloney,
6/7 YR OLD ChampionNoletta Smyth & Roy Craig`s Mulvin Lights Out, Jonathan Smyth
Amateur Champion Taryn McClurkin and Innocense