FOR the second year in-a-row, the five-star Dublin Horse Show was cancelled due to the ongoing threat of Covid-19. However, young riders and young horses were lucky to benefit from the RDS National Championships, which the RDS put on in place of the traditional show.

With generous sponsorship from Horse Sport Ireland, there were competitive classes for four, five, six, seven and eight-year-olds, all held in the main arena after three qualifiers around the country. Young horse producers were thankful for the opportunity to get their horses in the big arena after a severely curtailed year in 2020.

In the four-year-old section, regular event rider Meabh Bolger had her first ever ride in the main arena and produced MBF Celtic Claddagh to win on a score of 83.23 which proved best of the 24-strong starters.

“I do more eventing really, and he has proved to be good cross-country so there are definitely a few different roads for him; he is a lovely blood horse in his mind so he could go the eventing road too,” Bolger commented after the victory.

The four-year-old chesnut gelding by Celtic Hero BZ, who was bred by Etter Sportpferde AG, was sold at the Goresbridge Go For Gold sale last month for €49,000 to Barrington Sport Horses in England.

Mikey Pender, who enjoyed another excellent year competing internationally and broke into the world’s top 50 in December, returned home for the RDS National Championships, where he won the five-year-old National title with HHS Tokyo.

Speaking after the victory, Pender said: “It is a big ask for the youngsters, but it is a great education for them. I think everyone in the RDS did a great job, I’m sure it involved a lot of hard work and we really appreciate the effort that went into making it such a fantastic show.

“The courses were brilliant, it was great to have Alan (Wade) there, he got the right amount of clears in every class.”

Bred by Marion Hughes, Pender has competed both his sire and dam. “He is by Z7 Ascot who was selected to represent Britain at the upcoming European Championships with Georgia Tame, and out of HHS Fortune who I ride and has won a lot of classes for me.”

Good day for CBI

Kayleigh Soden’s CBI Bella Donna won the six-year-old National Championships and the Cruising trophy.

Guided to victory by Vincent Byrne, the pair were fastest in the 10-way jump-off and one of just four combinations which managed a double-clear round from a start list of 37. CBI Bella Donna (Zapatero VDL x Luidam) was bred by the Carroll Brothers, as was the second-placed CDI Karhari, ridden by Shane Goggins.

Following the win, Byrne said: “Last year with Covid she probably missed out a little bit. This year she has been very consistent; she was second overall in the ISH Studbook Series and now with this win she’s heading to the Breeders’ Classic. The ring in Dublin didn’t phase her too much which was great; the big ring actually suited her.”

Kevin Gallagher got the ride on Emerald Mystique following an injury to his then colleague Ethen Ahearne and made the most of it when winning the seven-year-old National Championships in the main arena.

By Emerald, Emerald Mystique was bred by Dr Noel Cawley out of Overruled (Cruising) who sadly died during foaling this year. The pair were the better of only two clears against the clock.

“I think this mare is going to win so many classes. There is nothing complicated about her, you just have to canter up to the jumps. She is an absolute lion in the ring,” Gallagher said.

The final championships, the eight and nine-year-old class, went the way of young rider Jason Foley with Ronan Rothwell’s French-bred mare D’Armour du Nenuphar (Vagabond de la Pomme x Diamant de Semilly). The pair were the only double clear in the class.

“She is a brilliant mare,” said Foley. “Ronan did a great job producing her. She has stood up to every task we have put to her so far.”

Read all the 2021 reviews from the national show jumping scene here.