JOHN Roche was a staunch supporter of Balmoral Show in pre-Covid times and, last September, was delighted to be back in the ring for the breeding stock classes, winning the broodmare championship with Assagart Fairytale who was one of 11 mares forward, from 13 entries, for the lightweight class.

Last Wednesday week, as the show opened, the presence of the Wexford exhibitor at least ensured some competition in this sector as his 2021 champion was one of just two mares forward, from four entries, for the lightweight class while Assagart Mistress was one of two forward, from three entries, for the medium/heavyweight division.

And it was the latter, a traditionally bred Irish Sport Horse bay by Kings Master, who was crowned Tourism NI champion by Britain’s Magnus Nicholson and Patricia Stirling.

The 12-year-old, who was bred by Roche out of the Bonnie Prince mare Assagart Millenium, is due to foal to the exhibitor’s own Irish Draught stallion, Assagart All For One.

The reserve champion, and winner of the lightweight class, was Yvonne Pearson’s KIEF Queen B, a nine-year-old ISH bay by Munther who was bred in Co Cork by Kieran Fahey out of the Kings Master mare, Madame Noir. Her third produce, a bay by Centre Stage, won the filly foal class, ahead of Paula Howard’s daughter of Tiger Attack out of the Bienamado mare Dernahatten Out Of Touch while Roche’s son of Lansdown, out of his Coroner mare Assagart Fairytale, won the colt section where he was the only entry.

Last September’s date obviously suited breeders much the better but it’s surprising, given the increasing emphasis on age classes in the sport horse sector, that more foals aren’t born earlier in the year.

Win for Derryronane Stud

Another breeder for whom Balmoral Show is one of his annual highlights is Co Mayo’s Liam Lynskey whose Derryronane Stud won the Irish Draught mare class with DS Bounce With Me Baby.

This eight-year-old Moylough Bouncer grey, who was bred by Brendan Duffy out of the Mount Diamond Flag mare Mount Diamond Princess, topped the line-up throughout ahead of Charmaine Kee’s home-bred Gweebarra Genesis, an 11-year-old chesnut by Crosstown Dancer.

DS Bounce With Me Baby, whose many previous wins included that as a four-year-old in Dublin, was shown with her filly by DS Cruising For Chics, winner of the part-bred foal class. John Roche won the pure-bred class with his flashy Lansdown filly out of the Huntingfield Rebel mare Assagart Kingstead Fiona with Kenneth Bell’s Moylough Supremacy foal out of Castleview Farmers Lady (by Tors Gentleman Farmer) standing second.