Connemara Pony Festival
The 2013 Connemara Pony Festival was a great success. The festival attracted a huge number of visitors to Connemara. A huge thank you must go to everyone who contributed to making the festival such a success.
On Sunday afternoon local author Nicola Heanue launched her third book in the “Milly the Connemara Pony” series, to lots of very excited children at the Showgrounds. Claudia Staunton from Recess was crowned the 2013 Connemara Pony Show Queen on Sunday night.
A number of studs in the Moycullen area were visited on Monday followed by a reception sponsored by Dooleys Bar in Moycullen. On Monday evening a traditional Irish session as hosted by Griffin’s Bar in Clifden.
Tuesday was International day and in the morning the ICCPS delegates held their annual conference. The Abbeyglen Castle hotel hosted the an International Reception on Tuesday evening, where Ms. Pat Lyne was presented with the Michael O’Malley award for her contribution in promoting the Connemara Pony internationally.
The Green Hunter competition for four year old ponies took place on Wednesday morning and was won by Glencairn Ivy owned by Joan Dahill and ridden by Pauline Dahill. In the afternoon Gerry Whyte and his pony Scoby of Sleehaun secured victory in the loose jumping competition.
On Thursday morning judging commenced at the 90th Connemara Pony Show, in Ring One at 8.30am. The main sponsors were Galway Irish Crystal, The Sweeney Oil Company and Horse Sport Ireland. Following the morning classes the Junior Champion went to Peter J. O’Malley and his three year old filly Sunhill Robin. Pat O’Neill’s two year old colt Illaunurra Bay was reserve junior champion. In Ring two Hubert Flaherty’s colt foal, Silver Bert, was awarded champion foal and Michael Rabbette’s filly foal Castleside Ella Bella stood in reserve. Professor Patrick Wall, Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland, performed the official opening.
Susan Cleary rode Carmel Melody’s pony Nire Valley Belle to success in the Ridden Championship, while Emma O’Toole riding Cashelbay Joe took reserve ridden champion. The visitor championship was won by Seamus Hynd’s stallion Banks Timber and reserve visitor champion went to Sinead Lusby McGrath’s mare Lucky Secret.
The winner of the seven and over stallion class Gurteen Cathal, owned by Kevin Bolger and bred by Cathal Mullen was winner of the confined championship and went on to win the overall Supreme Championship. In reserve place in both the confined and supreme championship was Kingstown Diana owned by Malachy Gorham. Celebrations continued in the Station House Hotel at the annual showdown.
Friday dawned bright and sunny. Huge numbers competed in the working hunter classes. The overall Working Hunter Champion was Derrygimbla Atlantic Storm, owned by Bernadette Quinn. Reserve champion went to Ben Ban Playboy owned by Deirdre Scott. Both ponies were ridden by Aaron Quinn. The Clifden High Performance Class was won by Pataire Crawford riding Antionette Geoghegan’s pony Westmir Queen.
The highlight of the day was the Puissance competition and crowds flocked to the Showgrounds to see Susan Oakes set a record for the highest height jumped by a Connemara Pony side saddle. Susan set the record at 1m 35cms riding the fantastic Connemara stallion Bobby Sparrow Blue, owned by Patricia Dalton. The crowd watched in awe as Susan and Bobby Sparrow Blue cleared the wall. Christine Molloy riding Doire Mhainigh Earl won the Puissance competition clearing an amazing 1m 63cms, the highest height yet in this competition. Doire Mhainigh Earl is owned by Mary Doyle.
A parade of champions set off after the Puissance competition led by the team of four Connemara ponies who had travelled from Germany to give a driving demonstration. The Connemara Pony Show 90th birthday celebrations took place on Friday evening at the Station House Courtyard with live open air music. Connemara Pony Sales were held in Clifden Mart on Saturday and Sunday.
A huge thank you must go to everyone who helped make the festival such a success. Special thanks to our judges, stewards, office staff, sponsors and volunteers. The 2014 Connemara Pony Festival will run from the 17th to the 24th August.