County Down siblings John and Emma McEntee were the stars of Irish showjumping during 2020 as they excelled nationally between lockdowns - and now they are planning for the New Year with a serious team of horsepower.
John (17) and marketing student Emma (19) are a talented duo, with the former crowned the Autumn League champion and Leading Young Rider at Cavan before Christmas with the latter taking the six/seven-year-old Hancock Elite Young Horse title in Cavan and the Autumn Development Series at Barnadown, Wexford.
John has now claimed a Young Rider bursary to train with international trainer Barry O'Connor in Malahide, while Emma is delighted to have retained the ride on MHS New York for 2021.
Trained by father Alo McEntee and mother Louise, the siblings have a busy season ahead.
John explained: "I had many wins in 2020 but took four in the Autumn League Grands Prix to win overall.
"I am looking forward to training with Barry O'Connor and learning more about the sport and developing my skills as well.
"I have two main horses - Hip Girl and CSF Vinze - for the big classes and am based with Marion Hughes in Kilkenny where we have some exciting young horses coming through."
John and Emma will contest the Spring Tours in 2021, progressing to larger Grand Prix events, and depending on coronavirus restrictions will travel to mainland Europe.
Emma added: "I was the youngest to win this Hancock final in October and to take it on MHS New York, who only came to me a month earlier from Marion Hughes, was my happiest moment of 2020.
"I will balance between my University of Ulster studies - which are currently being done via Zoom due to Covid - and competing, concentrating on bringing younger horses through the age classes."
Studying online since March 2020 has been an advantage for Emma.
"I have had more time to compete since I am based at home with the horses. I am now in my second year of studies with placement coming up in September," she added.
Due to the exponential rise in Covid 19 cases, The Showjumpers' Club has cancelled this Sunday's January 10 leg of the TRM Spring Tour at JAG Equestrian in Kildare until further notice.