THREE years ago B.C. (Before Covid) Charleville celebrated its 40th anniversary. The weather gods were not as kind last weekend as in 2019 and 4pm finishes on both days at even this major fixture are another indication on how exhibitors have cut back this year.

However, the 41st show produced two days of great stories with a host of Charleville tricolours proudly displayed for the road home on the dashboards of diesel-guzzling transport.

With Eleanor Fleming taking on the show chairperson role, Elaine Goold did an excellent job in her first year flying solo in the secretary’s tent at the horse and pony rings. And as always, Charleville’s “A team” of knowledgable stewards made for a well-ran show.

The Connemara championship was the first Charleville title decided in the in-hand pony ring last Saturday where David Machin, one of several visiting U.K. judges, chose Jason Rogers’ eye-catching dun colt Ahey Bridge 48th, by Bohola Mirah, as his champion.

“He’s out of a Jacks Promise mare, an extremely sweet-natured pony. I’m going down a different route than most Connemaras as I will put him driving, something that’s rarely seen these days. He’s a free-moving pony so will be very elegant in carriage harness. Hopefully he will be kept as a stallion and stand in Tralee,” said Jason, who bought his champion in Miltown Malbay.

Reserve was Martin O’Sullivan’s Active Beauty, champion already this summer at Leap and Cork. The Robe Earl grey also won the Horse Sport Ireland Connemara mare class.

Another sign of showing times is the amalgamation of youngstock age classes into one overall class for either show pony or hunter types. Two more duns - Rosemary Chambers’ Llaneilian Last Of A Golden Star and Dominic White’s Murvey Sweet Aston - topped their respective classes. Chambers’ show pony winner then stood reserve to Jerry Moloney’s broodmare winner Alice’s Firefly, by Rotherwood Peter Pan, for the in-hand pony title.

All Dun: Jason Rogers Ahey Bridge 48th was David Machin's Connemara pony champion choice at Charleville \ Susan Finnerty

Leana Bartelink notched up a double in lightly-supported Welsh classes with her Section D Coppathorne My Mathias and Section A pony Malbay Bobby Joe taking champion and reserve.

Coppathorne My Mathias waited on for the supreme championship where the combined judges ranks of Dale Atkinson, John Conifey, John Cookson and Clare Gundry chose Melanie Marnane’s purebred Connemara Danny’s Pride as their overall champion.

It was a back-to-back Charleville supreme double for the Fernville Danny grey’s pilot Emily Marnane, who had won this same title here three years ago with Creevelea Midnight Rambler. “It feels like a long time ago!” Melanie remarked on the wait for another Charleville.

“We were in the U.K. a few weeks ago to try a few qualifiers and they qualified for the National Pony Society (NPS) Mountain & Moorland working hunter pony at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead in late July, so Emily is super excited for that.”

The reserve supreme tricolour went to Rachel Lane’s charming first ridden winner and mini champion, Barkway State Affair, bred in Essex by Ann Smalley. Reserve in the mini championship was another Cork combination in Orla Whelton’s lead-rein winner Whiteleaze Secret Temptation.

Charleville’s working hunter track, built by Jamie Little, has a formidable reputation. “It was a great achievement to win the open intermediate in Charleville as the course is always exciting,” said Madeline Burns, whose daughter Victoria stood reserve working hunter pony champion with SFH Supernova. The eight-year-old mare “who loves to jump!” has already enjoyed winning form at Tipperary, Kilbride and the Northern Ireland Festival.

“She went reserve champion twice and got two spins around the main arena for the evening performance, a highlight for any jockey no matter what age.”

Charleville Banker: Emily Marnane with Danny’s Pride, the working hunter and supreme pony champion at Charleville Show \ Susan Finnerty

Another to enjoy jumping the Charleville banks was 11-year-old Ella Connolly who won both the working and show hunter classes with her starter stakes champion Twyford Captain Morgan. The reserve tricolour went to the 2019 supreme champion Creevelea Midnight Rambler, now owned by Sarah Rymer whose daughter Isobel was on board.

The RDS Connemara qualifier at Forth Mountain siphoned off some Charleville entries, although in addition to Danny’s Pride supreme title, there were several other notable ‘Connie’ wins.

Maura Purcell’s purebred Connemara Tullowcussane Anna, was in strong contention in the supreme championship. She won the show hunter pony title on both her and Maura’s grandson Josh’s showing debut (See Pony Tales, page 89). Reserve in the show hunter championship decider was the Ruttle family’s good servant Bronheulog Sunny Boy, now with Jessica McAuliffe who had a good day, with a novice starter stakes class win with the palomino Ridgehill Ryan.

One door closed and another opened for Loughmore Mick, the ridden Connemara champion. “It’s his first season competing. He was bought out of Gort Mart by Pat Meehan and David Moran. He had failed his stallion inspection with the previous owner and they gelded him and sold him off.

“Pat’s daughter Sorcha qualified him for the RDS intermediate side-saddle [at Charleville] on Sunday. She works as a radiographer in the Mater and focuses on side-saddle and I ride him astride for her as she lives in Dublin and is only home a day a week. He’s been champion at Limerick/Clare IPS, then won and was reserve champion at Midleton,” explained co-jockey Jodie Moran.

Reserve champion in this section was another traditional type in Sarah-Jane Sinnott’s Shanbo Rory.

What They Said

“Feeling very lucky to be out and about again after a quiet couple of years, Emily is just loving it.” Melanie Marnane.

“Victoria and ‘Rabbit’ have an extraordinary bond and I can’t wait to see what lies in their future.” Madeline Burns.

“The workers’ course was a super track with plenty to look at and tricky banks, which was great preparation for Dublin Horse Show. To top off a great day on the ponies was a spin on the funfair’s Avator with [daughter] Ella’s friends. Great fun and memories made at Charleville Show.” Aisling Connolly.

“Wonderful day out at Charleville and a well-organised show to take part in. It’s great to have shows back and to be back meeting people. Hopefully we’ll have many more good days out.” Eoin Jennings.

“It’s a team effort and it makes the wins all that sweeter as well as having the craic along the way.” Regina Daly.

“There’s a lot of people trying to win it [Charleville working hunter title]. To have won it twice is nice.” Dominic Furnell.

“The UK showing circuit is a lot more competitive, the standard is second to none! It was great to be able to compete at the top level working for Jayne, I learnt a lot.” Ciaran Feldman.