The Dublin Horse Show, as we know it, will not take place this year but what we do have is a five-day National Championships in the RDS, from August 18th to 22nd. It reminds me of 1946 when the event also re-emerged after a break.
Following the end of World War II, the thought of horses arriving at Ballsbridge once more made us feel that the world could be good again. The bread was turning from grey to white. Bananas, tea and oranges were returning to the shop shelves. In fact Ireland won the Aga Khan that year and Mick Tubridy took the Grand Prix.
Granted, there will be no Nations Cup or international jumping this time, but some €167,000 is on offer across 30 events, for which qualifiers are nearing conclusion. It is nearing last-call for those wishing to make it.
According to RDS Equestrian Committee chair Comdt. John Ledingham, all classes will take place in the main arena.
He told The Irish Horse: “Competitors will enter from the pocket and then exit from another gate. Horses must arrive and depart on the same day and no stabling will be available. Whether or not there will be an attendance in the stands depends on Government guidelines at the time.
“If we are at Level 3 there will be no public allowed. At Level 2 there can be some attendance, but under social distancing rules.”
Ledingham also reports that there has been a very strong entry for the show jumping qualifiers. In addition, with selection for the World Young Horse Championships at a Lanaken at stake, the five-, six- and seven-year-olds have been out in force. Understandably, there has not been the same rush for the traditional showing sections. In fact two of their qualifying days have had to be cancelled due to lack of entries. In order to make up for that loss, double qualifying places will be on offer at both Galway and Barnadown this Saturday (3 July) and at Galway next weekend.
Dublin Horse Show schedule
• Wednesday 18 August: young horse classes
• Thursday 19 August: hunter and breeding events
• Friday 20 August: pony championships and children on horses
• Saturday 21 August: amateur riders and the four-year-old young horse jumping finals
• Sunday 22 August: finals for five-, six- and seven-year-olds, plus an eight- and nine-year-old event.
It is difficult to believe that the multi-talented and ebullient Frank McGarry of Carrowmore, Co Sligo, is no longer with us.
Of all the people that have imbued Irish show jumping with life and humour over the past 70 years, nobody could match Frank as a leader, innovator and raconteur.
Aged just six, Frank declared to his father: “One day I will ride in the RDS” – and he did. But he also did much more. He was a chef d’equipe and selector of our earliest civilian teams that travelled Europe.
He created one of Ireland’s first international-sized indoor jumping arenas. He was a founder of the Connaught Region Committee and served some 16 years on the national executive and was also an appointed as a member of Bord na gCapall.
Some of the best show jumping horses of the 1960s and ‘70s passed through his hands. Names such as Westcourt (Mary-Rose Hayes), Feltrim (Eimear Haughey), Baronscourt (Iris Kellett), Oatfield Hills (Eddie Macken), Sensation (Raimondo D’Inzeo) and Go Sli Up (Francie Kerins).
Frank deserved the title ‘Mr Show Jumping’. As long as a horse jumps a competition fence in Ireland he will never be forgotten.