Entries open for Equestrian Business of the Year Awards
Darragh O'Neill, winner of the Equestrian Business of the Year in 2015, is strongly encouraging people to nominate their established and fledgling equestrian businesses for the 2016 Zurich Farming Independent Farmer of the Year Awards.
Together with his brother Alan, Mr O'Neill (pictured) runs Abbeyfield Farm outside Clane, Co Kildare. The 250-acre farm is home to a hugely successful livery yard, in addition to a cross-country course, and numerous other outdoor activities.
"After we won it last year we were able to promote our business so much more," he said. "This award is held in high esteem and within a few months we definitely saw a marked increase in business."
"I would strongly encourage people with an equestrian business to enter, or perhaps nominate someone else." The award is open to all areas of equestrianism.
In 2014 Darragh O'Neill's entry had finished a close second to Tipperary-based pinhooker Rory Maher, who last year continued his upward curve in the bloodstock industry with such stable graduates as Premier Currency, Still On Top and Arpinati.
Following his win at the time, he said: "A part of the entry process I found it a good exercise to go through the list and see what horses we'd had at the farm. The money (€2,500) will go towards doing some more work on the 17 acres I rent from my father."
In addition to the Equestrian Award, there are a wide range of categories available to enter including Beef, Sheep, Dairy, Tillage, Alternative Farm Enterprises and Rising Stars, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Grand Prix Award for the overall Farmer of the Year for 2016.
Last year's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Anna May McHugh for her dedicated service to the National Ploughing Association.