TWO of Racing TV’s Irish-based presenters, Kevin O’Ryan and Ruby Walsh, took a couple of days off from their official roles last weekend to support their children who were competing on opposite sides of the Irish Sea.
On duty at Tramore on Friday evening, Kevin travelled across to Millstreet where he met up with wife Angela and their 16-year-old daughter Claire who was competing two ponies, Carhu Melody and Fanta Cross, in the CCIP2-S, finishing fifth and 10th respectively on Sunday morning.
“Claire was really proud of herself and we were really proud of her,” said Kevin. “She is absolutely passionate about eventing and has been since she first started in the Kildare Pony Club. Carhu Melody had done a bit when we bought him towards the end of 2020 but the other pony was just broken when we got him, more or less around the same time, and Claire has done all the work with him herself.
“She has had great help from Fiona Hayes and then Ronan Kinsella, who has been fantastic, and Sue Shortt and has learned a lot with the high performance trainers who have done a great job with Claire and the others.
“At our end, Angela does all the work really, driving Claire around to training and the events, while I really like to stand back and watch them! My father was big into turn-out when we were kids and while I did a good job brushing them over and everything, I was absolutely brutal at plaiting, so I’m happy to leave that to Angela and Claire!
“I was very nervous walking the cross-country and decided that once Claire got home safely it didn’t matter where she finished. I have to say Millstreet was fantastic – the ground, the presentation of the fences and the organisation were all a credit to them.
“I’ll have to book a couple of days off for Kilguilkey next and then the dream for Claire would be to make the team for the Europeans – she deserves it as she puts in a savage amount of work.”
Claire was also supported on-site by her sister Jessie while their brother Robert, who did Minimus as did the girls, spent the weekend with his cousin, Charlie Smullen. “The kids have made great friends through the Pony Club and now eventing and Angela and I have as well. Millstreet was a great opportunity to see some of the top event riders in action – they are very talented.”
Ruby, it seems, is a lot more hands-on, according to his wife Gillian. The couple, and many other Irish parents, attended The Pony Club’s Home International Junior Tetrathlon competition in Moreton Morrell College, Warwickshire where 45 members of the Irish Pony Club were in action, including their daughter Isabelle.
“After Covid and a lot of training over the winter, everyone wanted to travel and it was very kind of the British Pony Club to accept such a huge entry from Ireland,” said Gillian who is a committee member of the Kildare Branch. “Ruby loves the fact that there are four phases and that if you have a bad day in one discipline you can bounce back in another.
“The cross-country lines in Tetrathlon, especially in combinations, can be very technical so he loves walking the tracks with our daughter Isabelle and others, suggesting the best lines for them to take. We were delighted when Isabelle, who’s only 12, was on the third-placed Irish girls’ team while my niece, Amalie Henson (South Westmeath), was on the winning team.
“While Isabelle and myself look after turn-out, we leave studding the pony to Ruby and he’s very good at that. He also got an extra job at the weekend as the organisers asked him to present the prizes, which he was delighted to do, standing at one end of the teams for photographs while a cut-out of Queen Elizabeth stood at the other!”