Pony Clubbers lead the way at Ardnacashel showjumping spectacular

Co Down pony clubbers showed their panache at showjumping last weekend at Ardnacashel Equestrian.
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With Saturday's showjumping spectacular doubling up as a pony club qualifier the standard was fierce.

Those Co Down Pony Clubs certainly turn out the best with the crème de la crème qualifying for the Barrier Animal Health Festival to be held at Morris Equestrian, Kilmarnock, Scotland, in the spring.

The day started off with three lovely clear rounds from Anna Reid, Grace Murdock and Cathryn McCarroll in the 60cm. Harley McKeag took top billing in the 70cm class to be followed by a superb display of riding from Keys Crane of East Down PC and Jennifer Thursfield of North Down PC.

Abi Gardner, Poppy Duff and Jenna MortonAbi Gardner, Poppy Duff and Jenna Morton
Abi Gardner, Poppy Duff and Jenna Morton

Anyone lucky enough to have grown up in a Pony Club knows that these clubs are an integral part of the infrastructure to develop our senior riders.

The firm basics and foundations of horsemanship are learnt at the rallies and camps. Along with making lifelong friends and connections.

The Gardner family are certainly aware of this with mum Elaine being a huge supporter of her daughter Abi, who took home the win for North Down PC in the 80cm and a second in the 90cm section on her gorgeous dun pony Hillside Nicely Dun.

This tiny but powerful duo , affectionately referred to as the Little Pocket Rockets, qualified for the third year in a row, although due to Covid this will be their first year to travel. Hillside Nicely Dun aka Danny was in fact a lockdown pony.

Riana Savage at ArdnacashelRiana Savage at Ardnacashel
Riana Savage at Ardnacashel

After Abi’s dad Jeremy exclaimed that he couldn’t live with his horse mad wife and daughter during covid unless they had a pony to keep them busy, family friend Rachel Robertson sent Danny on over.

And thus, a true partnership was made. From the original plan of only staying two weeks, fast forward two years and a lot of work later and this pair are ones to watch.

Despite only being nine-years-old when she met Danny, Abi was determined to do all the work herself and under the watchful eye of her showjumping trainer James Hogg produced this pony to a high standard.

The 90cm was dominated by East Down PC taking first, third and fourth place. Bonecastle Lass was masterfully steered to victory by Ellen McNabb while Jennifer Gilchrist took third on her Lackaghmore Vandango and Sophie Lynn came in fourth on Ollie Bang. Nearly an East Down whitewash except for the stubborn Abi Gardner putting the name of North Down in the mix.

Ellen McNabb, Abi Gardner, Jennifier Gilchrist and Sophie Lynn at ArdnacashelEllen McNabb, Abi Gardner, Jennifier Gilchrist and Sophie Lynn at Ardnacashel
Ellen McNabb, Abi Gardner, Jennifier Gilchrist and Sophie Lynn at Ardnacashel

The day wrapped up with the 1m and 1.10m classes. Flying high was Riana Savage on her Toctash Willis taking home the red ribbon in the metre. Ciara Cormack came in second riding Tory’s Island Boy and in third another appearance from Sophie Lynn and Ollie Bang.

Representing the boys, Ben Cousins came in at the end of the day and swept the board in the 1.10m.

The fun will continue next Saturday, don’t forget to enter online @ardnacashelequestrian.

Ardnacashel Equestrian would like to congratulate the qualifying combinations and wish them well at the championships.

Ben Cousins at ArdnacashelBen Cousins at Ardnacashel
Ben Cousins at Ardnacashel


60cm clear rounds: Commander (Anna Reid), Diesel (Grace Murdock), Maggi (Cathryn McCarroll)

70cm: 1st Shadow (Harley McKeag), 2nd Chester (Kerys Crane) East Down, 3rd Hanabanana (Jennifer Thursfield) North Down, 4th Commander (Anna Reid)

80cm: 1st Hillside Nicely Dun(Abi Gardner) North Down, 2nd Zara (Poppy Duff) North Down, 3rd Mountview Misty Morning (Jenna Morton) Iveagh, 4th Aria (Ellie May Rogers) Killultagh

90cm: 1st Bonecastle Lass (Ellen McNabb) East Down, 2nd Hillside Nicely Dun (Abi Gardner) North Down, 3rd Lackaghmore Vandango (Jennifer Gilchrist) East Down, 4th Ollie Bang (Sophie Lynn) East Down

1m: 1st Toctash Willis (Riana Savage), 2nd Tory’s Island Boy (Ciara Cormack), 3rd Ollie Bang (Sophie lynn), 4th Imperial Matriarch (Aimee Webb)

1.10m: Broughshane Boy (Ben Cousins)