National and International Success 2018
- Co. Longford Hunt Branch retain Mackey Open Team Show Jumping Championship Cup
- Co. Longford Hunt Branch crowned UK International Open Team Show Jumping Champions
The Longford Ladies team of Aisling McGreal riding Rincoola Tintean, Rebecca Lyons riding Castlerea Draoi, Edel Whyte riding Abel Star and Rebecca Yorke riding La Vie Hof Ter Zeedycke have had another very successful year competing in national and international Pony Club Championships.
This began in early July with the team winning the Area 6 Qualifier in Tubberbride, County Sligo. This qualified the team to compete at the National Irish Pony Club Festival in the TRI Equestrian Open Team Show Jumping Championship. The Festival was held in Barnadown at the end of July. The pressure was on as Co. Longford Hunt Branch won this Championship in both 2016 and 2017 and the team hoped to make it three in a row. The team was ably supported by Chef d’Equipe Gerry Whyte and, with supporters watching from the sidelines, the Longford Ladies retained the trophy for another year. The team was also awarded 2nd place in Horsemanship. All members of the team then went on to compete in the Individual competition with Edel in 1st place and Rebecca Yorke in 2nd place. Thomas Whyte riding Ardagh Flamenco was the team reserve and was placed 6th in the Individual competition.
As a result of their success at the Irish Championship, the team was offered the opportunity to travel to the UK to represent their Branch, Area, County and Country at the UK Pony Club Championships.
Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire is the location for the UK Pony Club Championships. The beautiful romantic gothic style castle at Cholmondeley proudly overlooks 50 acres of stunning ornamental gardens and 670 acres of historic parkland and provided the perfect setting for the 5 day Championships. This prestigious event showcases all disciplines in equestrian sport including show jumping, eventing and dressage. The same team travelled to the UK in 2017, competed against 17 other teams and won the prestigious UK International Open Team Show Jumping title. With only one change of horse from 2017, the girls travelled in the hope of securing an allusive back to back win.
Rebecca Lyons (16), from Melview in Longford, is the youngest member of the team and has been riding since she was three years of age. She bought her horse Castlerea Draoi in 2015 and uses the fantastic facilities at Mosstown Riding Stables to stable and exercise her horse. Rebecca joined Longford Pony Club in 2015 and has represented her Club at national and international level. Rebecca attends Moyne Community School.
Edel Whyte (17), from Legan, has just completed her Leaving Certificate in Ballymahon Vocational School and has successfully represented her school at interschools show jumping competitions. Edel has competed at Championship level in pony club having represented the club in Hunter Trials, Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing. Abel Star was previously campaigned by Edel’s brother, Second Lieutenant James Whyte of the Irish Army Equitation School, McKee Barracks. Since taking over the ride from her brother, Edel has enjoyed success at national and international level including being awarded an Irish Pony Club training bursary to McKee Barracks. Abel Star was bred and produced by the Whyte family.
Rebecca Yorke (18), from Ardagh has been on many winning National Pony Club teams, starting off with the Robbie Bailey at 11 years of age with Buttons Two, currently a Grand Prix 13.2 pony. She is part of the prestigious Irish Young Riders Academy 2018/2019 and is currently competing on the Grand Prix circuit in Ireland. She was awarded a bursary with the Longines World Equestrian academy in 2017 where she continued to work with Ludger Beerbaum until March of this year. She is hoping to have a successful riding career and business in show jumping in the future.
Aisling McGreal (20), from Ballinalee, has been a member of Longford Pony Club since she was 7 years of age and has represented the Club in Dressage, Hunter Trials, Eventing and Show Jumping, winning a number of national titles. She was privileged to be offered the ride on Harold McGahern’s Rincoola Holly Berry for the 2017 pony club season and Rincoola Tintean for 2018. Aisling has competed successfully at International Shows in Mullingar and Millstreet and at the RDS Dublin Horse Show in the Small Event Horse Class. In 2016, Aisling represented Area 6 at the Dublin Horse Show where she was Reserve Champion in Members Combined Training. This summer, Aisling was awarded a bursary for SJI elite training in Cork and was also a previous recipient of the Irish Pony Club training bursary to the Army Equitation School in McKee Barracks. She is currently studying Agricultural Science in UCD.
The Branch had a very short time to arrange all the logistics associated with the trip including booking transport for the horses, flights, stabling and accommodation. The team members and parents travelled on Friday with Jackson International Horse Transport booked to collect the horses early on Saturday morning to ensure that the horses had sufficient time on site to settle in and recover from the long journey. After exercising and bedding down their horses the team and their chef d’equipe Gerry Whyte took the opportunity to walk the show jumping course.
There was a very early start on Sunday morning as the team were drawn third to jump. This year the team faces stiff competition from 29 other teams from all over the UK. This team competition is run in the same format as the Nations Cup with the best three scores to count. By 9:00am the Longford team had completed their first round and finished on a zero score. When all teams had completed their first round jumping there were four teams on zero score. Five teams were on 4 faults, with six teams on 8 penalties.
The draw for the second round saw Longford drawn last to jump so there was a long and nerve wrecking wait for the team. As other teams accumulated penalties in the second round, it became very clear that the course designer had set a very demanding, challenging and technical course. Rebecca Yorke was first to jump and delivered a foot perfect clear round for the team. Aisling had the last part of the treble down and was followed by Rebecca Lyons who was very unlucky to have the last fence down. Edel was last to jump – a clear would guarantee a win while 4 faults would result in a three way jump off. We all held our breath as Edel completed a faultless clear round and it took a couple of seconds for the team to realise that they had done it once more. An outright win for Longford Pony Club and an historic achievement – back to back success.
The final result:
- 1st International Open Team: Longford –Rebecca Yorke, Aisling McGreal, Rebecca Lyons and Edel Whyte
- 1st National Open Team: North Cotswold Hunt – Tabatha Rogers, Holly Osborne, Amy Hine and Gus Langsbury
The team were supported on the trip by their parents: Gerry Whyte, Irene Yorke, Kevin Lyons and Barbara McGreal. Margaret Kenny together with her two daughters Jean and Emma were on the sidelines from early morning to cheer on the team. Both Jean and Emma are members of the Co. Longford Hunt Branch. Margaret’s husband Eugene is Joint DC of Longford Pony Club. Eugene’s sister Joan and her husband Simon, who live in the UK, also came along to witness this fantastic achievement. Within minutes of the win, Facebook and Social Media went in to orbit as news spread of the Longford Ladies victory. The girls were blown away with the amount of messages and call of congratulations received from far and wide. What a special feeling - to represent your club, county and country.
The success of Co. Longford Hunt Branch, at area, national and international level, is testament to the commitment of the members, excellent training provided by instructors in all disciplines, support by parents and the hard work by committee members in organising pony camps and rallies. It highlights the importance of the Irish Pony Club in developing young equestrian athletes through the provision of training and competition.
The team gained invaluable experience and will have treasured memories from the trip. They would like to acknowledge all those who supported them in making the trip.
A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. Colin Powell
Co. Longford Hunt Branch Abú.