AMATEUR show jumping riders got off to a late start in 2021 but they entered competitions with the same amount of determination as in previous years and as a result, placings were hard fought and titles hard won.

The first big test came in the form of the RDS qualifiers where, in the first round at Ballinamona, 100 combinations took on the Tommy Gibbons-designed track.

Claiming the win was Leonie Dunne (A) and Cavalino 26. Dunne certainly put in a blistering round, so much so that the next combination of Caitlin Duffy and Jockeyhall Midas Touch were almost six seconds slower. Dunne later went on to take fifth place in the RDS National Championships in August.

There were large numbers again at the leg in Tipperary Equestrian where no less than 114 combinations battled it out. Taking victory was Katie Frazer (AA) with the ever-reliable Keylogues Gold. Paul Tarpey (AA) landed the win in the RDS Amateur Qualifier at Galway Equestrian aboard She Lux Quality. Meath’s Kevin O’Reilly (A) and Furore S demonstrated what they could do when they booked their place with a win in the final qualifier at Ravensdale. This combination could have been considered hot favourites having claimed the win in the amateur class at the Mullingar Premier Grand Prix Show in what turned out to be a very competitive field.

RDS National Championships

No strangers to the main arena in the RDS, 2021 did prove a bit different in amateur ranks as all the qualified riders got their chance to experience the Ballsbridge main arena over the Alan Wade-designed course. In total 31 combinations lined on a very wet Saturday of the RDS National Championships to contest the coveted title. In the end, third rider in, Gillian Blanche (A) and Bellegrove Prima Donna were crowned Amateur Champions when they galloped home clear in 42.07. Gillian, from Ballybrittas, Co Laois, is a newly trained solicitor and qualified for the RDS from 2015-2019. Equally experienced, Bellegrove Prima Donna is a 16-year-old mare by Lux Z out of the Tenor de La Cour-sired Lady Belle Grove.

Just two other double clears were delivered on the day, with the next fastest lodged by Marie Hartley and Nikita Van Het Heidenhof in 42.27. School teacher Aine Dagg put in a great performance as she guided the home-bred Roc View Flight to a clear in 43.92 seconds for third.

Mervue Equine

Leinster Tour

The Mervue Equine Leinster Tour also proved popular with amateur riders and it came as no surprise that the 1.10m overall winner eventually came from the amateur ranks. Claiming the first of many titles of last season was Aileen McDermott and Amber Balou.

Following a great show at Mullingar International where they won a host of classes, this combination went on to win the Horseware Ladies 1.10m Final and the Horseware Amateur Championship to mention but a few of their main impressive results last year.

Munster Amateur Indoor Show

The Munster Amateur Indoor Show at Clare Showgrounds proved popular with over 100 entries competing over six competitions. The Derby class is always an exciting one and 18 combinations took it on. Following an exciting first round, three combinations booked their place against the clock.

Edwina O’Connor was the only A rider, mounted on Ashwood Reggie. Maire Cosgrove was double-handed with her own Briarhill Cruis Rua and Martin Flesk’s Killuppaun Magic. Cosgrove claimed victory when she delivered the only double clear aboard Killuppaun Magic. At the end of a busy show, the overall Horse First leading rider in the A section was Edwina O’Connor while the leading AA title went to Noelle Cobbe.

Ingrid Kane Memorial Amateur Show

Amateur riders travelled near and far to support the popular Ingrid Kane Memorial Amateur Show at Barnadown. In total 51 combinations went to post in the Ingrid Kane Memorial Grand Prix. Taking the red rosette was AA rider Michael O’Neill and the Vincent Byrne-owned Sambuca Paris Diamond, fastest of six double clears in 32.08. This combination went into this class in good form having won the the Hughes Horse Stud 1.10m.

The second day of the show saw riders line out for the final of the Leinster Amateur Tour which began in July in Killossery. It was neck and neck going into the final round with just seven points separating reigning champion Lisa Doyle (Corlands Clipper) and Marie Hartley (Nikita Van Het Heidenhof). Doyle and Corlands Clipper retained their title for the second year by a margin of just two points.

The Leinster Amateur Tour Grand Prix proved very competitive with the top places being filled by AA riders.

Winner of the 1.10m Mervue Equine Leinster Tour, Aileen McDermott added another win to her record as she led the victory lap in the Grand Prix. Riding her own Amber Balou, she lodged the winning clear in 35.29. Katie Frazer and Keylogues Gold galloped home in 36.67 for second place, ahead of Marie Hartley and Nikta Van Het Heidenhof in 38.57.

Irish Farmers Journal League

Winner of the Irish Farmers Journal League at Mullingar Equestrian was Maeve Duffy with Real Cool Cruise. In the final round, just four double clears were delivered and Duffy took the win when she galloped home in a very fast time of 36.96. Jessie O’Flynn came closest when she clocked 43.62 aboard MMS Loreal, ahead of Beverely O’Keeffe and Ballyoskill Blaze in 44.61.

Botanica Amateur Championship Balmoral

Victory in the Botanica Amateur Championship stayed north as Joanna Curran (AA) and Intis took the win when they delivered the only double clear in an eight-way jump-off in 38.50. A category rider, Danielle Logan and Demero beat the winning time when clocking 35.83, but four faults meant she had to settle for second place.

Winner of the 1.10m Mervue Equine Leinster Summer Tour, Aileen McDermott, added to her record sheet when she took third place with Amber Balou having landed one on the ground in 36.33.

Cavan National Amateur


Cavan Equestrian played host to the National Amateur Championships. Following two exciting days of competition, Carlow’s Lisa Doyle claimed the leading overall AA title, while Antrim rider Niamh Mallon McFall was the leading A section rider.

The final class on the schedule, the Grand Prix Autumn Series, saw 44 combinations go to post in the A section, while 35 went to post in the AA section. It was a good outing for Niamh Mallon McFall as she emerged victorious with Bay Of Bascay, clear in 32.64.

Limerick rider Katie Frazer added to her impressive record as she partnered Keylogues Gold to another victory when fastest of four double clears in the AA section.

In the Cavan Schockemohle Indoor Derby for the A section, Louise Walsh claimed the win when fastest of eight double clears. In the AA section, Lisa Doyle once again demonstrated her talent as she took the win aboard Corlands Clipper.

Connaught League

The Martin Flesk-sponsored Connaught League came down to the wire with Karen Broderick taking the title with just a single point to spare. Broderick, who was riding Earl Greys Last Cruise, picked up points in four of the five rounds and finished on 30 points.

Winner of the final round and placed in two other rounds, Joanna Hyland and Queen Lu, took the runner-up in the league when they clocked 29 points. Maire Cosgrove was only five points behind on 25 points with Briarhill Cruis Rua for third and she finished fourth with Killuppaun Magic on 22 points.