Ulster riders saddle up for RDS horse show
Ulster's showjumping riders, both international and national, are saddling up for the 2017 Dublin Horse Show which has nearly €700,000 in prize funds.
Showjumping begins at 9am, with the Grand Prix ponies in the Simmonscourt arena, while International arena events start with the six-year-old horses.
Derry showjumper Daniel Coyle (22) has returned from America where he is based with the Susan and Ariel Grange team and has dominated most of the Grand Prix events this season. He makes his debut as an international at the Ballsbridge arena.
From Florida to Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Coyle has won more international events than any other North American rider and brings Cita and Simba de La Roque to Dublin.
Former world champion Dermott Lennon competes with Lou Lou and Fleur as an individual having returned recently from Europe with a selection of wins.
Strabane producer Peter Smyth has excelled with his team of horses and is qualified for the seven- and eight-year-old international event with Robin Bingham's talented and consistent Templepatrick Welcome Limmerick. Welcome Limmerick will pose a strong challenge for the final of the Connollys Red Mills seven and eight year olds.
Fintona's Jenny Rankin, a professional young rider with the Deirdre Bourns stable in Galway, also competes with a full team of horses. Rankin, who rode in Europe and Florida this year for the Bourns team, is rated as one of the up and coming stars of Irish showjumping.
Tyrone's Annabelle Heffron who, at 13, is the youngest rider qualified for the 1m 35-40 Young Riders championships with her mare Porsha. Heffron is the current Irish Field star of the month winner, having been voted best performer after winning the Hagen Grand Prix in Germany.
"It's really exciting to have the opportunity to jump in the main arena at Dublin, and experience the whole atmosphere surrounding it," she said.
Heffron, who competes internationally on the Children on Horses European tour, is trained by Johnny O'Connell.
The Puissance event on Saturday will feature Carrickfergus rider Christopher Megahey, who is a high wall specialist with Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier. Megahey has excelled at Olympia, Dublin and further afield on the fearless Seapatrick, who is a real crowd pleaser and won the event three years ago with the Templepatrick-based rider Sameh el Dahan.
Northern Ireland riders competing in the national classes include Catherine Thornton, Florencecourt, Kelly Teggart, Enniskillen, Luke Campbell, Aghalee, James Hogg, Maguiresbridge and Gabriel Tunney, Tempo.
The Joanne Sloan Allen team from Templepatrick will be out in force, as are horses from the Rosbothams of Dromore, Michael Cave, Ards and the McEvoys of Ballyward and Omagh.
Former showjumpers whose children have qualified for Simmonscourt include Maeve McEvoy, Omagh, Alo McEntee, Dromore, Joanne Prentice with her daughter Charlotte Houston.
Travelling from Muff, Donegal is Kenneth Graham with a team for his mother Geraldine. Graham has produced some excellent results at home and abroad over the past year and always features in Dublin.
Highlights of the show will include master classes from Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton and veteran superstar Eddie Macken. Their master classes will be hosted on Friday and Sunday this week with four riders taking part in each. Macken, 67, who made his name with Pele and Boomerang, was a member of the famed Irish dream team who won the Aga Khan trophy for three consecutive years from 1977-1979.
The Nations Cup is scheduled for Friday where Chef d'Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa will be hoping for a win. There are 20 nationalities competing with €200,000 on offer in the Aga Khan event. Sunday's Longines Grand Prix has a prize fund of €200,000 too.