Coil Óg 20th July
Leinster Region held its biggest show to date at Coil Óg Equestrian Centre, Co. Kildare on Sunday 20th of July. Taking the reins of secretary for this show was Marguerite McSweeney who put a huge amount of work and effort into the organisation and running of the day. Margeurite was ably supported by Regional Secretary Jane Whitaker who dealt with entries, numerous enquiries and had the unenviable task of preparing the times. With over 230 entries across the 18 classes on offer, this show trumped the 173 tests that ran on the first day of this years National Winter Finals. Competitors travelled from all corners of the country including West Cork, North Belfast, South Munster, Limerick, Wexford, Wicklow and everywhere in between with most regions being well represented on the day. The first competitors started at 9 am and the four arenas were exceptionally busy until the final test was completed at 5.10 pm. Being one of few venues this year to run four arenas all day -with room for one more- it was a very long but enjoyable day for organisers, volunteers, competitors and judges alike.
Coil Óg owners Chris and Gwen Byrne did a fantastic job in preparing the top class establishment in anticipation of the arrival of the team and were on hand during the day to help with any problems. High surround arenas were set up and prepared in advance of the show which made it all very easy for organisers on the day. Some competitors took advantage of the available stabling and travelled the night before in preparation for the long day ahead. Its central location means that Coil Óg is within a two hour drive for 70% of the competitors.
Incorporated into the show was the inaugural running of the Inter-Regional Team competition for under 23s which is the brain child of Leinster Chairman David Keane. The first of its kind, it is hoped that other regions will follow suit on the back of its considerable popularity. With thirty three riders making up eight teams from six different regions, it is a very promising statistic for our up and coming young riders. Establishing a Youth Development Squad is essentially about offering a gateway into Dressage for those who many not have considered it in the past and to encourage them in their pursuit of excellence. Doors are being opened by offering bursaries for training with top class coaches that riders might previously have thought to be out of their reach.
Speaking after the event, David was very pleased with how the team event had gone and believes it achieved what it set out to do. Among spectators was Dressage stalwart Joan Keogh, founder of the young rider Silver Spurs competition. Many of the team members on the day were encouraged to participate in the team event at the finals of the Silver Spurs which took place on the 12th of July at Spruce Lodge. It is hoped that in conjunction with the Silver Spurs, the Inter-Regional competitions will further encourage young riders to join and engage with Dressage Ireland and ultimately promote the quality of riding in Ireland. A lunch for the Young Rider Development Squad was organised and sponsored by Leinster Chairman David Keane and took place before the prize giving for the team competition which itself was kindly sponsored by Redmills who had representative on hand to present the winners with their prizes.
Victorious on the day were the South Munster Team of Sophie Daly, Charlotte Butler, Stephanie Marwood and Orlagh Crottier with a score of 211.69. Roisin Winters who was part of the second placed Leinster Y Team noted that she was delighted with the chance to be part of a team and to compete with riders of the same age. She believes being a member of a team offers the opportunity to make lots of new friends and to get to know people. Roisin’s mother Clare was also encouraged by the opportunity for her daughter to be part of the Leinster Team. She thinks the experience fosters a great spirit between the kids who can now experience a different atmosphere than at regular dressage shows where it can be quite intimidating to be in the warm up arena on a small pony amongst all the horses. She believes the Inter-Regional competitions will open up dressage to a whole new group of young riders and develop a sense of team spirit.
Overseeing the tests on the day were five Irish-based Judges, Wouter Liekens, Gertie Liekens-Schurmans, Dermot Cannon, Clare Fitzsimons and Marie Quinlan Pluck. Alongside these was UK List 1 Judge Debby Lush who provided riders with a new perspective and viewpoint. The show featured a Grand Prix class which saw an unchallenged Yvette Truesdale take home the red aboard the bay gelding Has To Be Fun. Show secretary Marguerite McSweeney had originally hoped to offer Yvette some competition in the class with her Grand Prix ride Salancio, but due to the very busy run up to the show and the massive amount of work involved in its organisation, she had to hang up her riding boots for the day.
Also unchallenged in the Intermédiaire I class was Dale Roberts riding Enigma who scored 60.66% under the watchful eye of Debby Lush. However he had to be content with second place when it was Amanda Goldsbury who swept to victory in the well contested Prix St. Georges class with an impressive 69.21%. Making it four out of four, a very happy Heike Holstein partnered the five year old Sambuca and the seven year old Sweeps Crystal Cruise to win the Preliminary P18 Category 2, Novice BD 38 Category 2, Advanced Medium BD 96 and the Advanced BD 100.
In the Category 1 sections, top honours in the Preliminary classes went to Hannah Fleming riding Haslemere Boy with a score of 65.83% and Tara Hayes aboard Bantiss Holy Joe with a fantastic 69.78%. The first of the Novice classes went to Kerri Lyons with Olympic Cool scoring 69.83%, with Kate Kennedy and Springfield Rondo taking the honours in the BD 38. Elementary classes were also well represented on the day with wins going to Emily Kate Robinson and Tzira Hill scoring 66.61% and Sofie Walshe partnering Lough Fadda Horseleap Bruno to a score of 64.48%.
The overwhelming support from competitors is very encouraging and will hopefully point to further staging of dressage shows at the venue. While stabling could be an issue for a two day festival, Coil Óg’s great location would make it accessible for competitors to easily travel to the venue on consecutive days. Speaking during the event, Marguerite was very encouraged by the show of support from competitors. With its excellent surfaces and big atmosphere it was a great preparatory run up to the exciting environment of the Nationals, especially for the younger horses and first-time competitors. The Leinster Region are delighted with the great response to the show and see it as very encouraging going forwards.
The response from volunteers was incredible and without them the show could not go on. The most difficult part of organising such a large event is to coordinate volunteers in advance with most people simply enlisting on the day. An essential element of running a show on this scale is to have bodies on site from the early morning to set up. Helping out on the day were many Riding Club and non-Dressage Ireland members, some who were not even riders themselves, but came on board to ensure that the show was a success. Many competitors also lent a hand after riding themselves. A special thanks is extended to the scribes and scorers who worked incredibly hard over the course of the day and the call up stewards who kept everything running smoothly. Particular thanks to Leinster member Simone Hession who travelled from Sligo to volunteer and worked incredibly hard all day.
Leinster Dressage is most certainly on a high following a great day at Coil Óg and hopes to see competitors again at our next two scheduled shows of the year which are being held at Killossery Lodge Stud on July 27th and August 24th.