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Friday 20 April 2018

Young Irish breeders prove their worth by taking silver in Sweden

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Ireland's next generation of horse breeders proved they are a force to be reckoned with by becoming reserve champions at the International Young Breeders Championships in Sweden recently.

Representing the Irish Sport Horse (ISH) studbook, the team of eight young breeders from all over Ireland put in a fantastic performance at the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses competition in Bollerup, Sweden. Some 23 studbook teams took part in the championships, which are held every second year and include two gruelling days of testing competition.

Each studbook is represented by a senior team (20-25 years of age) and a junior team (17-19 years). Competitors are judged over a number of different sections, including a theory test, judging conformation, movement and loose jumping, and presenting a horse in hand on the triangle.

Sponsored by Connolly's Red Mills, the ISH young breeders team was almost an all-female effort this year, with no less than seven girls and one boy on the team.

The ISH junior team took the competition by storm, winning the junior section of the competition and driving the overall team result up into second place.

The winning team consisted of Alyssa O'Neill from Co Kildare, Caoimhe Kenny from Co Laois and Orla Dooley from Co Kilkenny, with Galway's Ruaidhri O Cianain taking the reserve slot.

STAR

The star performer of the team was Dooley, who won the overall individual junior championship, helped by her win in the in-hand section. O'Neill took third place overall in the conformation section.

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The senior team consisted of some seasoned campaigners, with Rossa Gallagher from Co Meath, Iris Brazil from Co Westmeath and Regina Daniels from Galway on the team and Ciara Greaney from Dublin in reserve.

Brazil, who was on her swansong trip as a result of being over-age for the next championships, went out on a high, winning the senior loose jumping division.

Based on the combined junior and senior sections, the ISH studbook finished as overall reserve champions, second only to the Holstein studbook team.

Teagasc's co-ordinator of the young breeders programme in Ireland, Wendy Conlon, said she was thrilled with the result.

"I think the result is a reflection of the effective training programme we have put in place for these young breeders," she said.

"The programme has grown and gathered huge momentum over the past few years. In 2013 we had up to 80 young people attend training sessions and fierce competition for places on the teams."

Horse Sport Ireland director of breeding Alison Corbally said the result was a remarkable achievement for the young breeders who had worked very hard to prepare for the championships.

"The Young Breeders Programme is a wonderful initiative for young people with an interest in developing their equestrian knowledge and skills," she added.

"Teagasc's Wendy Conlon and Declan McArdle deserve a huge amount of credit for the work they have put into the Young Breeders Programme.

"I'd also like to acknowledge Red Mills, sponsor, and to thank Andrew Hughes, Co Kilkenny, for his support of the team."

Irish Independent