THE Sports Pony Challenge, which is run by the working hunter committee of the Irish Pony Society, has been badly affected by Covid-19 over the past couple of years but the 2022 series got underway on Tuesday at Killossery Lodge Stud.
The Challenge, which is open to both members of the IPS and non-members (subject to a daily membership fee), is a three-phase competition comprising dressage, working hunter and show jumping. Each phase is judged separately with points allocated according to placings and the total then gives the overall result.
The 158cms class was won by south Dublin’s Lily Nadir and Country Strong, the 11-year-old Mermus R mare who has 163 Show Jumping Ireland points to her credit as well numerous working hunter championships and national IPS titles. The bay, who was champion riding horse at the 2011 Dublin Horse Show, was bred in Co Wicklow by Stephanie Heffernan out of the Ekstein mare, Ballycullen Dream.
From nearby Oldtown, amateur jockey Ivan Ryan won the 153cms section on the eight-year-old palomino gelding Indian Joe while another competitor with a racing background, Carla Williamson, landed the 143cms class on Comberton Coda. The Co Westmeath rider and her mother Janet’s nine-year-old Stanhopes Diddicoy mare recently won an EI100 (P) event at Lisgarvan House.
In the 133cms section, Williamson had to settle for third with Oh Dakota Justice, immediately behind Kirsty Greene riding Horse And Jockey Clasper as Co Wicklow’s Isla Coad took the honours on board the skewbald gelding Frosthill Jackaroo.
The starter stakes competition for riders under 12, which got the show under way, was won by Evie Kennedy riding the vastly-experienced Maiham First Edition.
As usual, there were two classes dedicated to Connemara ponies. The first, for riders up to 16 years of age, was won by Ava Corcoran-Lydon on the 2009 Monaghanstown Pat mare Gortahork Brid who is out of Grey Rock Mist, by Village Boy. In the class for riders over 16, the red ribbon was presented to Katie Wyse who achieved the highest score on the 11-year-old Castleside JJ Junior bay, Illaunurra Bay.
Locally based Katie Horgan placed second on Jane Dalrymple’s dun mare Kinamara Laura while in third was none other than Alicia Devlin Byrne and the now 25-year-old Blackwood Fernando.
A new class for novice ponies was added to the schedule this year and the first winner was the Zara Kelly-partnered Roo Too, a nine-year-old traditionally bred Irish Sport Horse mare by Jackaroo. The bay was bred by William Micklem out of the Kings Master mare Glen Bliss.
The next leg of the series is scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday, May 2nd, at Marlton Stud.