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Sunday 25 September 2016

O'Grady Cup honours an equestrian legend

Published 21/09/2016 | 02:30

Ann O'Grady in action at Millstreet recently riding Omard On The Ball Photo: Denisa Photo
Ann O'Grady in action at Millstreet recently riding Omard On The Ball Photo: Denisa Photo

Last weekend marked a special time for the O'Grady family as the Michael O'Grady Cup was presented to the winner of the six-year-old ISH Studbook Young Horse Eventing Championship in Ballindenisk - in memory of their father who was a legend in horse circles for decades.

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Previously combined with the year-younger class, this year's decision to split them was welcomed by many riders, including Ann O'Grady who had several entered for both the four and five-year-old competitions.

Like her late father, Ann has also gained a great name for herself in showing circles, having produced and ridden dozens of champions down through the years.

Together with her husband Hugh, she registered the Ballingowan prefix some 25 years ago. In the interim years she has graced the RDS Main Arena with such top show hunters as Dunbeacon, Lord of the Dance and Ringwood Deacon. In addition she has won the side-saddle title twice and the working hunters on three occasions. "All of those were won on four-year-olds," she commented.

With Katie Jerram in the saddle, Dunbeacon later went on to win the supreme championship at the Horse of the Year Show.

Ms Jerram has had particular success with horses produced by the Leonards and one year claimed all weight divisions at Hickstead with their graduates.

Other successful RDS campaigners to have been produced by the team include Sir Temple Touch and Ringwood Ballinakill.

One of eventing's most successful Irish-bred horses is Ringwood Cockatoo, whom Ann competed as a youngster. She is also credited with giving Master Crusoe and Fenyas Elegance a start in their careers. Purchased as a four-year-old and evented to one-star level, Master Crusoe went on to finish best of the Irish in seventh at the London Games for rider Aoife Clark.

With the eventing season drawing to a close in the coming weeks, Ann will also be turning her attention to the hunting field, where no doubt some of her future champions will get their grounding on Irish turf.

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