Monday 26 August 2019

Double act: Yvonne Connolly and daughter Ali to compete at Dublin Horse Show

Ali's injury forces mum to get back in the saddle

My lovely horse: Yvonne Connolly and daughter Ali Keating prepare to compete in the showing classes at the Dublin Horse Show. Photo: Steve Humphreys
My lovely horse: Yvonne Connolly and daughter Ali Keating prepare to compete in the showing classes at the Dublin Horse Show. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

What started out as 'Mum to the rescue' has turned into a rewarding shared hobby for Yvonne Connolly and her teenage daughter Ali Keating.

Their shared love of horses and relatively new equestrian adventures together reach a new level this weekend when they are both off to the RDS to compete on consecutive days at the Stena Line Dublin Horse Show.

Ali and her grey pony Chris, who is a cross between a Connemara pony and a thoroughbred, and Yvonne and her five-year-old chestnut Henry, which she got earlier this year, are off to the historic Ballsbridge showgrounds this Saturday and Sunday, when mother and daughter will be competing in the showing classes.

Former model turned TV chef Yvonne grew up horse-mad in Co Kildare and last competed at the RDS as a teen. The busy mum-of-three hadn't been on a horse since she was 17 but all that changed last year after Ali (13) had an unfortunate accident just two days after getting her pony.

"When Ali broke her wrist and arm, Chris needed to be exercised so I got up and started to ride her pony. I got bitten by the bug and I was just completely obsessed and very quickly realised that I wanted to get back into it. Before I knew it, the competitive edge came out in me and I was doing everything from hunter trialling to horse racing," said Yvonne.

The proud mum added: "Ali has been training very hard and it is something that she wants to do as a career. She's done really well. She's only just back in the saddle less than a year after her accident and she has come on so much and has done so well, I'm really proud of her.

Equestrian entertainer Santi Serra will also be in action at the show. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Equestrian entertainer Santi Serra will also be in action at the show. Photo: Gerry Mooney

"We are both loving it. Every cloud has a silver lining. Ali is so happy that I'm horse riding with her and that probably wouldn't have happened if she hadn't had her accident. Good things often come from terrible situations.

"Now we go out riding together, we go to shows, showjumping and cross-country. We are joined at the hip at this stage and we are all set for the RDS."

Daughter of Boyzone singer Ronan Keating, Ali will be competing in the 153 pony showing class on Sunday morning while her mum competes in the Sportsman's middleweight showing class on Saturday.

"The Dublin Horse Show is something we attend every year and look forward to. This year is special because it celebrates 100 years of women competing at the RDS. Women first took part in the Horse Show in showjumping on the Thursday and, ever since, Ladies Day is on a Thursday," said Yvonne who has also dipped her toe into horse racing.

She won her first race at the Curragh for trainer Jessica Harrington as part of the Corinthian Challenge in aid of The Injured Jockeys Fund.

Irish Independent

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