Thursday 29 September 2016

Dashing stallion steals the show in Clifden

The crowds were down because of the weather, but the entries were as high as ever at the Connemara Pony Show

Siobhán English

Published 26/08/2015 | 02:30

Michael Harty riding the supreme ridden champion Cashelbay Rocket at last week's Connemara Pony Show in Clifden
Michael Harty riding the supreme ridden champion Cashelbay Rocket at last week's Connemara Pony Show in Clifden
Eamonn Burke with his supreme champion Drumbad Fletcher Moss at last week's Connemara Pony Show in Clifden

Clifden Show is recognised as one of the best of its kind in Europe and each year hundreds of tourists descend on the town for the Connemara Pony Show.

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This year, the bad weather somewhat dampened the atmosphere and prevented the usual large crowds gathering for the popular in-hand judging, but there was still a sizeable number of Irish and overseas guests on hand when the smashing stallion Drumbad Fletcher Moss was crowned supreme champion of the show.

Owned by Eamonn Burke of Castlegar and exhibited by his son Joe, the 11-year-old son of Frederiksminde Hazy Match proved a popular choice ahead of the multiple-winning broodmare Banks Vanilla.

Purchased from his breeder Jim Ferguson only in January of last year, Drumbad Fletcher Moss had first caught the eye of the Burkes as a three-year-old in 2007. "Dad tried to buy him back then but Jim would not agree," Joe commented. "It took all this time but Jim called us last year and told us if we were interested he would sell him to us. That was it really."

Having only been lightly campaigned as a youngster, the stallion re-appeared in the show ring in the summer of 2014 and among his many wins was the stallion class at Clifden.

"This is his 15th show and his 15th win since he arrived. And he's also proving popular as a sire with us," Joe said. "It's also our second supreme championship as we also won here in 2009 with our other resident stallion, Currachmore Cashel."

The Burkes also stand Banks Vanilla's full-brother Banks Timber, but the son of Teglstrup Duke is currently enjoying a showing stint in the UK and will return home next season.

Laurels

Noel Noonan's reserve supreme champion Banks Vanilla is no stranger to the show ring and among her laurels in recent years are the Mountain & Moorland Championship at the Horse of the Year Show in 2012 and the All-Ireland Broodmare Championship in 2010.

Shown at Clifden without a foal at foot, she is now in foal to Laerkens Cascade Dawn.

The other feature class in Ring 1 on Thursday was the junior championship and this crown went to the three-year-old stallion Murvey Rocco, by Glencarrig Knight.

As the rain fell, conditions deteriorated badly in Ring 2 for the well-filled ridden classes, but little could dampen the spirits of popular breeder and producer Robbie Fallon when his six-year-old stallion Cashelbay Rocket was crowned supreme ridden champion.

Produced with great professionalism by Michael Harty, it proved a dream win for the rider on his Clifden debut.

"Unbelievable," the Oranmore-based rider said after receiving the Lady Maria Levinge Trophy ahead of the reserve champion, Marjorie Hardiman's Creganna Dandini. They had stood at the top of the line in the class for riders 21 and over.

In what has been a successful few weeks for the combination they also finished second in the stallion class on their first outing at the RDS and won the performance championship at Duffys just a few weeks ago.

Home-bred and a son of Fallon's other stallion Cashelbay Cruise, the young sire is from the same family as Cashelbay Prince, a multiple winner across the disciplines and sire of numerous champions on the circuit.

A winner here in-hand as a two-year-old, Cashelbay Rocket's list of wins also include a junior championship and his ridden stallion class in 2014, but this win proved the icing on the cake for his delighted connections.

"I've turned down so many offers for him, but I keep telling people he's not for sale," Robbie Fallon stated.

"Without doubt he's the most popular pony we've ever had. And Michael and the stallion are like a marriage made in heaven!" he joked.

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