The Ballyward Equestrian Ulster Region Summer Horse Tour concluded at The Meadows Equestrian Centre on Sat 24th August 2019. In true summer tour fashion, competitors came from far and wide to compete for both the league prize fund and the boosted class prize fund on the day thanks to the Ulster Region.
Competitor numbers were high with every class almost doubling in entries against the final last year ensuring stiff competition and superb action for spectators to enjoy throughout the day.
The day began with a 1.10m class in Arena 1 as Young Riders and Seniors competed for a prize fund of £650 in each section. Sarah Burns had led the challenge to the final in the senior section with Georgies Star and achieving 5th place on the day secured her win in the league overall. While Sarah Kinnear was placed 6th and secured her second spot on the podium. Emma Jackson and Silken Allure finished in third on the podium in the 1.10m senior for the first of her league placings at the show. Sheikh Samir Mirdad claimed the prize money for the class on the day stopping the clock in a time of 39.07 seconds. Young rider Mackenzie Healy finished two hundredths of a second behind him to take the win in the Young Rider section of the class. The Young Rider 1.10m podium battle was between Patrick McWilliams and Elle Johnston, with little separating them as they headed to the final, however Elle Johnston held onto the lead overall and took top spot on the podium.
Meanwhile in Arena 2, action had started promptly and competitors were making the most of every opportunity to save valuable seconds in the speed round. Fastest competitor on the day was Sharon Junk and Hollypark Toes who stopped the clock in a blistering time of 32.60 seconds. Second fastest through the finish line was Justine O’Hara who claimed enough valuable points to secure her win for the overall league. Second in the 90cm league was Maeve Lunny who commented “After following this league for 3 years and travelling the length and breadth of Ireland, I’m absolutely delighted to get second position overall. We have a combined age of 80 between myself and Okee Dokee so to have a podium finish to this year’s league is absolutely brilliant.” Third and final place on our 90cm league podium was Helen Pannell who commented on the “Glorious atmosphere, it’s been great to have something to aim for and compete in every Saturday encouraging us to visit new locations which we may not have otherwise travelled to.”
The 1m course was promptly built and ready for the next class of competitors. The battle for first position on the 1m podium was between the two mounts both ridden by Fiona Thompson. Her own Curolea Roni claimed top spot with Eavan White’s O’Harabrook in second. Third place overall went to Laura Irvine who commented “I’ve really enjoyed getting to such a variety of different shows and surfaces, meeting a great community of like minded people while competing has been great aswell.” Winner on the day in the 1m class was Fionn Clarke on Delton, with Fiona Thompson in second and fourth while Karen Pearson and Hanley News finished in third.
The 1.20m winner on Saturday was also our 1.20m winner from National Balmoral’s Ballyward 1.20m class Dylan Ward and Hard Times. As a young rider they claimed the young rider section of this class, while Emma Jackson and Creevagh For Sure claimed top spot in the senior section. This win secured Emma’s return to the podium and top spot for the 1.20m league. Second place in the senior section was Dermott Lennon and his seven year old Absolutely Kingmar Z. Sarah Burns finished in 6th in the senior section on the day and did enough to claim 2nd and 3rd overall in this competitive league.
The Young Rider 1.20m podium saw the return of both Elle Johnston and Patrick McWilliams. Elle won the overall league on Tawnmore Lux Furious, with Patrick in third on Drumrot Penny and Olivia Roulston stepped into second position with Philip Rosbothams Avalent having done enough earlier in the league to hold on to her position.
The height of the fences in arena 1 went up again for the 1.35m class as competitors warmed up for this £3,500 prize fund. A number of questions tested both horse and rider skill over the duration of the course in both rounds as spectators were kept on the edge of their seats to the very last round. A young rider once again claimed victory in this class as Olivia Roulston fresh from Dublin success rode a foot perfect round onboard Erico. Frank Curran claimed second on Oliver Twister and Third on Ardragh Chekoff, an eight year old grey gelding owned by Cliodhna Breen who Frank also competed at Dublin earlier this month. Shannon Robinson and Chardonnay produced the only other double clear to finish in fourth while Jonathan Smyth onboard Ann Doherty’s Crystal Tom finished in fifth securing the overall league win and top spot on the podium. Simon Scott finished second and third on the podium as reward for his consistent top form throughout league.
Derek Reid, Ulster Region horse committee Chairman commented “We would like to thank every competitor who stepped forward to compete and support this year’s Ballyward Equestrian Summer Horse Tour including each centre and show who played host for our riders. We are thrilled with the level of support received throughout the league and in the final leg.” Derek continued… “We have enjoyed a splendid tour this year, our competitor numbers are up and we now look forward to next year’s tour with excitement. Congratulations to everyone placed today in each class and on the podium, the standard of jumping has been exceptional and a pleasure to watch.”