Truesdale Takes the Title
Last weekend saw the Clarke family’s Cavan Equestrian Centre play host to Dressage Ireland’s National Winter Finals. Classes at these championships were once again qualifiers for the Hickstead Masters, a dressage festival held at the prestigious All England showground in July, and good competition, beautiful weather and hard-working organisers combined to make a very successful weekend.
English list one judge Kirsty Mepham praised the facilities, the organisers and the overall standard of competition, saying “I always love coming to Ireland to judge”. Irish judge Marion Greene concurred, complimenting “the wonderful facilities” and the hospitality of Dressage Ireland, acknowledging that “for the judges, we were really spoilt”.
Yvette Truesdale and her seasoned campaigner Has To Be Fun, fresh from representing Ireland at the Olympia world cup qualifier in December, took the coveted title of National Winter Champion. Kirsty Mepham awarded them 64.46%, and said afterwards that “it was one of the best tests I’ve seen Yvette do with that horse”. Truesdale, who is sponsored by Horse First and riding-hat manufacturers Casco, was delighted with her “very consistent test”, and will consider travelling to Hickstead with Has To Be Fun and her Elementary Champion Woodcroft Waltzer.
Yvette Truesdale won the Grand Prix on Has To Be Fun
Kate Dwyer took the reserve slot with her mother Maureen’s stallion Rêve D’Or, on a score of 62.34%. This was one of many successful results for Dwyer over the weekend, which saw her winning an impressive hat trick of championships. With Snowdon Faberge, Dwyer, who was the leading rider at the recent Marlton Spring Festival, won both the Medium and the Advanced Medium titles, while she topped her show off with a Preliminary victory on the Cavalier Two For Joy-sired Merrywell Cavalier.
Making a victorious return from injury, Anne Marie Dunphy took both the small tour classes, the Prix St Georges and the Intermediaire I, with her own Urbanus. “After the disappointment of missing the National Championships last September and being side-lined for three months after breaking my leg, it was great to come back and win the Prix St Georges and the Intermediaire I with Urbanus”. Kirsty Mepham spoke highly of the black gelding by Ronaldo, saying “Urbanus is one of my favourites. He is still green, and when he gets stronger he’ll be really nice”.
After taking finishing in the reserve position in the Prix St Georges, Lucy Miller and her Weltmeyer-sired chestnut mare Mango Winona emerged as winners of Sunday’s Advanced Championship. Another rider returning from serious injury, Miller was happy to put her recovery behind her and will consider travelling to Hickstead this Summer. She was also quick to praise her trainer, Donie MacNamara, saying “Donie has really helped me a lot with Mango”.
Two for Truesdale
“I’m delighted for his owner, especially as he has only just moved up to Elementary” was Yvette Truesdale’s reaction after winning the Elementary Championship with Pauline Blair’s Woodcroft Waltzer. The nine year old bay gelding, by the Hannovarian sire Westerhagen, finished fifth in Saturday’s test. However, Sunday’s winning score of 70.5% was enough to allow him take the championship from second-placed Carolyn Mellor and VSH Beaulero. Visiting judge Kirsty Mepham declared this class “the best to judge, really good fun, with a nice variety of horses”.
Carolyn Mellor went one better in the Novice Category 2 Championship, to take the victory, again with the smart bay gelding, VSH Beaulero. Anne Marie Dunphy was another rider successful at the higher levels to feature in these classes, placing second on Jo Breheny’s His Highness mare, Her Highness Willow, a horse she “rates highly for the future”. The Category 1 section of this class was won by Aidan Campion with another His Highness offspring, Hannah K, with Joanne Logue finishing a close second. Both the Novice Championships were generously sponsored by Simply Stocks.
Blackwood Dancer, ridden by Alana Cazabon Sullivan
The Preliminary Category 2 Championship saw Meath-based Kate Dwyer take another championship, this time with her mother Maureen’s young horse, Merrywell Cavalier. Second-placed Rachel Dowley tied with Dwyer on exactly equal scores from both judges in Sunday’s test, a happening for which the odds are so small as to be non-existent, but Dwyer’s better test on Saturday was enough to assure her of victory. Pony rider Alana Cazabon Sullivan took the Category 1 section of this championship with Knochbrack Porter. This topped off a good weekend for the Sligo-based rider, as she finished third in Saturday’s Under 25 class and also took the award for Best Connemara Pony with Blackwood Dancer.
Rachel Dowley finished top rider under 25 riding Cadens
The Under 25 class saw the highest score of the show, 76.87%, being awarded to Rachel Dowley and her reigning National Young Horse Champion, Cadens, with Tara Oliver and Sergio taking second. Judge Marion Greene declared the former partnership a “happy combination and a pure pleasure to watch”. She also complimented the overall standard of young riders, saying “the movements are being ridden correctly and there are many lovely young riders coming up”. Speaking afterwards, Dowley was delighted with her result. “Cadens has developed a lot more strength over the Winter, and consistent training with Anne Marie Dunphy, along with help from Conrad Schumacher, has paid dividends”.
Peter Higgins won the Sportsman A Championship with 65.31%, while Owen Smyth took the Sportsman B equivalent with 65.41%.
Photos courtesy of Jim Prime.