See bottom of Post for Gallery of Images for Clifden ’09!
Currachmore is King!
There was a certain inevitablity about the crowning of Curraghmore Cashel as Clifden Champion ’09 when he won the Stallion Class and followed it with the Progeny Class. He was on a roll as he took the Visitor Championship and duly finished off with the Supreme Championship to popular acclaim. He had come close before, as had Eamonn Burke’s other ‘great’ Cloonisle Cashel. Joe, as always, showed him to perfection. If Curraghmore is King, he has a worthy Queen in April Rose, who took her class and the Confined Championship as well. Gearoid Curran’s Rose (out of Errisbeg Dolly) is an exceptionally well-made brood mare. It was a good day in general for Errisbeg Dolly’s family, with her grandchildren both winning two year old class, filly and colt, with Letterdyfe RíRá and Glencarraig Rosemarie respectively. Rírá went on to take the Junior Championship.
The Parade of Champions through the town was a nice touch, and saved the day for the driving ponies, whose obstacle course in Ring Two had to be abandoned due to the conditions of the ground. The group of drivers continues to grow with two newcomers this year. Cameras clicked furiously as the ponies made their way through the streets in the sunshine. There was a time when ponies did it daily, without a camera in sight! Ach tá na laethanta sin caite, agus ní dochar ar bith é!
The Working Hunter competitions started the long day of Performance activities on Friday morning at 10am. The course was well planned and imaginative, with a bank that materialised overnight. Many of the ponies had a problem for some reason with a narrow gate that shouldn’t cost a thought to a hunting pony. Maybe the riders needed to picture themselves actually hunting and just go for it! The Musical Dressage Ride was remarkable, simply for having taken place at all. Congratulations to all concerned. They will hardly perform in more testing conditions again, but it certainly highlighted the temperament and wonderul balance of the ponies. This troupe, under Vida Tansey’s guidance, put in a huge effort year after year.
The Ashbrook Stud Award for Sheer Pluck simply had to go the indomitable Deirdre Fitzpatrick (who finished third) who was bumped off her mount – 12y.o Gelding Chester – not once, but twice after having gone through the finish line… and came back each time undaunted.
The Puissance competition probably drew as good an audience as either of the showing rings had done on Thursday and provided an exciting finale to the week’s events. Bobby Sparrow Blue, a 15y.o. Stallion and Glenford Scot, a 7y.o. Gelding shared the top spot after five exhilirating rounds and reaching some 1m45 in height. Some younger ponies were possibly overfaced and a case could be made for limiting the lower ages. This competition is surely here to stay. It was good to see serious ponies being asked serious questions and answering them in some style.
For many people, the highlight of the week was the sight of Molly and Darkie comming home to Connemara to celebrate with their own, having conquered Europe. The Richardsons, McCormacks, Briscoes and all the connections were bursting with pride as the ponies paraded around the ring to sustained applause. Many were close to tears. It was good to be there on a special day. Not since Ashfield Bobby Sparrow won gold in Soder, Germany in 1980 have we had such excitement. But, after the Moorselle exploits, a triumphant Dublin, and a fabulous and innovative Clifden, 2009 must rank as the best year ever for the Connemara. It is almost (but not quite yet!) a hundred years since Michael O Malley undertook his epic journey from RosMuc to Olympia with Irish Dragoon and Eileen Alanna in order to put Connemara ponies on the map. They are certainly on it now. Lets keep them there!