A Wexford Pony Club team was crowned champions in the prestigious John Ledingham show jumping competition at the Irish Pony Club’s national championships.
Ava Donovan from Cushinstown, Martha Power from Mountelliot New Ross and Katelyn Johnston from Robinstown, Palace East, triumphed over 27 other teams from across Ireland to bring home the silverware to Wexford.
“This is a huge achievement for Martha, Katelyn and Ava. It’s a big deal to qualify for the championships in the first place and then to go out and win against the best showjumpers in the pony club is just amazing,” said Club DC Karen Hennessy.
“We are so proud of them. They are an inspiration to our younger members and not just because they have won on a big day out, but because they put in so much hard work over the winter months and it’s great to see that work paying off.”
The Wexford trio were one of only three teams to go clear in the first round and qualified for the jump off over a challenging course in Barnadown Equestrian Centre outside Gorey.
The jump off proved an exciting affair and went right down to the wire with Wexford, Waterford and Wicklow battling it out until the end.
All three teams’ first riders went clear, leaving it to the final riders to hold their nerve. The Wexford trio put on the pressure with a lovely clear round that couldn’t be matched by either Waterford or Wicklow with both team riders knocking a pole.
Katelyn, Ava and Martha’s feat was all the more impressive as they are the only team in the history of the competition to win with a team of three and it’s the first time since 2004 that a Wexford Pony Club team won the competition.
Chef D’Equipe Eamonn Donovan explains, “The best three scores count in the first round but most teams are made up of four team mates to allow for one discard round. This meant that the competitors had the additional pressure of knowing their round counted and they had to go clear to be in with a chance to get into the jump off.
“The atmosphere in Barnadown once we realised we had won was amazing. It was brilliant to see the sheer joy and excitement on faces of the girls, the parents and their supporters. It was a wonderful day.”
The Irish Pony Club championships took place over three days in Barnadown and the Wexford team had a hugely successful championship.
Caolan Costello from Ramsgrange came third in the open individual as well as winning best turned out.
The mounted games teams won in no less than three competitions. The junior teams won the B final, the Wexford Warriors came 4th in the B final and the under 10s team came 3rd in the A final.
The pure dressage team of Martha Power, Una O’Dwyer, Cora Finn and Molly Hennessy Murphy’s narrowly missed out on 6th place.
Molly, who qualified for the top 10 ride off, finished 4th overall and won best pony.
Karen went on to commend all the members who qualified for the championships. “Well done to all our members. We had a great festival with representatives in mounted games, combined training, pure dressage, the Alice Mernagh, Robbie Bailey, John Ledingham and Open show jumping. It’s great to see the purple and gold out in such force.”