UK team denied two-in-a-row after a close contest in TRI Equestrian Team Challenge

Mosstown Riding Club ran out victors in the TRI Equestrian Team Show Jumping Challenge at the Riding Clubs Festival at Mullingar Equestrian last Sunday where they denied last year’s winners, East Cheshire Combined Training Group, a two-in-row.

Eight teams contested the class where four team members jumped one after the other while teams jumped in reverse order of merit in the second round.

Competitors found Seamus Casey’s course challenging with just six double clear rounds recorded in the competition where just two teams were level on zero after the opening round – East Cheshire CTG and Mosstown Riding Club.

Mo Chara was next best on 8 while Castle Leslie ended the opening round on 12. Winterdown were further back on 17 while Drynam had 20, Meath was on 24 and the three-member Donegal Gaeltacht were bottom on 28.

Donegal Gaeltacht and Meath couldn’t improve in the second round and finished out of the top six while Drynam added a further 12 penalties to finish on 32 in sixth. Winterdown finished on 29 after they racked up a further 12 penalties in the second round to claim fifth place.

The Monaghan based Castle Leslie club took fourth place on 24 penalties while Mo Chara took a podium finish in third on a total of 16 penalties.

It was really a two-horse race between Mosstown and East Cheshire CTG but the visitors had the upper hand as they were last to jump in the second round.

First to jump for Mosstown, Eilis Mc Loughlin (First Man Lara) had an unfortunate pole down out of the double at 10 which left the Longford based club under pressure from that moment onwards.

Lesley Fitzgerald (Amhac An Ri) and Aine McLoughlin (March Thunderball) followed with clear rounds which put extra pressure on Kelly Fitzgerald to keep the team in contention.

Fitzgerald, who was competing at her first AIRC show, put in a faultless round on Mosstowns General to pile the pressure back on to the visitors as Mosstown completed the second round on zero.

Alison Unwin was first to take on the second round and it looked like a perfect clear round until Stanley Rongal demolished the last fence. Ashely Daniel also came a cropper at the last fence as Abba lowered the rail which meant Mosstown were the winners on this occasion.

Lucy Watson (Rafiki Yango) and Abigail Unwin (Lunar Vision) both returned with clear rounds to ensure the visitors claimed the runners-up position on a total of 4 penalties.

Kelly Fitzgerald’s round on Mosstowns General proved crucial for the winners and the Kenagh resident was understandably anxious in the beginning as she said afterwards,

It was my first show and when I realised we needed the clear, I was nervous, but my horse is a star and my teammates reassured me that it didn’t matter what happened as long as I came out smiling.

“Every fence we jumped my heart was in my mouth but as soon as we cleared the last fence I was so thrilled. I can’t wait for the next riding club event,” she added

Mosstown chairperson Emer O’Donnell said, “It turned into a very exciting competition which came down to the wire. It was a proud day for the club and the Midlands region with Mo Chara in third. The venue was wonderful and thanks also to TRI Equestrian as sponsors.”

The East Cheshire Combined Training Group had to settle for second place but are hopeful of a return visit next year, if they can win the British Riding Clubs National Championships in September.

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