Molly and Rossfad ‘Run’s’ away

Karina McVeigh, Cheyenne
Karina McVeigh, Cheyenne

Kick starting the second leg of Hagans Croft Working Hunter league was the horse classes.

With a total of 11 rustic fences built by Working Hunter aficionado and accredited judge for the Irish Show Association Toni Donnelly, the course proved a testing track for those working hunter enthusiasts on the day.

Emily McGowan, Tullaree Fear Bui

Emily McGowan, Tullaree Fear Bui

The first class on the day was the 60cm class, with a total of four competitors. With three of those going clear it was down to the show phase where Karina McVeigh and her colourful gelding Cheyenne finished on a very impressive score of 93/100 securing her first place and the red rosette. Harriett Hogan and ‘Tollymore Lass’ have been preparing for their working hunter come back at Hagans Croft for quite some time now, with all this preparation coming to fruition and a second place blue rosette for their endeavours.

Moving onto the 70cm class and jumping clear for the second week in a row Nicola Stuart and ‘Clonkeen cheeky charmer’ were delighted to place first place, earning themselves 11 points towards the league. Megan Houston and ‘Craigmount Sparrow’ also jumping clear but slipping into second place on the day and 10 points towards the league.

As the course was adjusted to the 80cm class, Megan Houston and ‘Craigmount Sparrow’ prepared to once again take on the course of 11 fences. This time they had their sights on the red rosette and that they achieved, just tipping Nicola Stuart and ‘Clonkeen Cheeky Charmer’ into second place. All good sportsmanship as each competitor congratulated each other on their successes.

Mandy Blakely and ‘Kizzy’ were not giving up on the top spot in the 85cm class, and for the second week in a row they came home with the red rosette. Well done!

Megan Nelson, Diamond

Megan Nelson, Diamond

The 90cm class seen a few unfortunate poles down and refusals at fence one. The course also tricked a few after fence two, competitors had some sat nav issues on the way to fences three. This did not hamper Julie Donaghy Simpson and ‘He’s The Lad’ with this super pairing going clear all the way there was no denying them the red rosette for their efforts.

The bad luck continued for competitors in the 1m class with still some sat nav issues and unfortunate poles down. However one competitor shone through once again achieving the only clear round and performing another polished show Julie Donaghy Simpson and ‘He’s The Lad’ once again were delighted to be picking up the red rosette. Finishing second with an unfortunate pole down at the problematic fence one Craig Hills and ‘ Lougherne Inspired’ were delighted with their run out at Hagans Croft.

The morning session finished off with all those competitors in first and second place heading into the championship show. Even though ‘Craigmount Sparrow’ only stands at 14.2hh he stood out tall amongst the horses, winning the judges eye - Roz Murphy to be awarded Horse Champion. After her second and first place rosettes Nicola Stuart and ‘Clonkeen Cheeky Charmer’ were confident going into the championship and galloped home to claim Reserve Horse Champion on the day, well done!

The afternoon seen the chance for the ponies to take on the challenging course of rustic fences. Spirits were high and the support and encouraging cheers for competitors was a plenty, however the strong and challenging course proved to much for some. With numerous refusals and poles down there was only two competitors going through clear into the show phase. First spot was claimed by Kaitlyn Kearns and her 5 year old palomino ‘Millhouse Henry’ and second place Katie Annett and ‘Derrymattery Fudge’.

Molly O'Connor, Rossfad Runaway

Molly O'Connor, Rossfad Runaway

Next came the 70cm NIF Starter Stakes and M&M class were Molly O’Connor and Rossfad Runaway soared over all the fences making sure not to touch a pole. They went onto score near to perfect marks in the ridden show phase, finishing on a score of 94/100 which secured them the red ribbon. However not far behind finishing on a score of 90/100 was Megan Nelson and ‘Telynau Royal Dignitary’ coming home with second place and the blue ribbon. Molly and Rossfad Runaway done it again in the 80cm NIF 133cm class, achieving a second clear over the course and coming home with another red ribbon. Zara Mnyth and Killican Boy caught the eye of the judge with a steady confident jumping phase topped off with a very polished show phase securing them second place on the day.

As the course was adjusted to 90cm the course just got that little bit tougher to achieve a clear round. However it wasn’t a problem for Megan Nelson and Emma Irwin who both jumped clear, setting them up in good stead for the ridden show phase where Megan Nelson and her grey mare ‘Diamond’ clenched first place followed by Emma and ‘Joey’ in second place

Fresh from her winning form at Dublin Horse Show and making her debut at Hagans Croft Emily McGowan and her 6 year old gelding ‘Tullaree Fear Bui’ took on the 1m course of rustic fences, Despite the change in weather conditions, through heavy rain, Emily and Tullaree Fear Fui jumped the only clear within the class securing them the red rosette, this set the pair up well for the pony Championship class where judge Roz Murphy had some very hard decisions to make. This class was judged completely separately with first and second placings within each class eligible to take part. Roz Murphy was all eyes and ears to pick up on any slight mishaps or mistakes which could separate what was turning out to be a hotly contested championship class. However two competitors stood out for Roz. Molly O’Connor was delighted to be awarded Champion Pony with ‘Rossfad Runaway’.

This pair started their working hunter journey back in 2018 when they signed up to WH clinics with Toni Donnelly at Hagans Croft. Back then this pair knew nothing about WH but with the correct help and support Molly and ‘Rossfad Runaway’ have soared within this field, recently placing third at Balmoral Starter Stakes and will be contesting the 133hh classes this year. Pony Reserve Champion was awarded to Emily McGowan and the exceptionally well schooled ‘Tullaree Fear Bui’. Congratulations!

Hagans Croft would like to thank everyone who supported the second leg of Hagan’s Croft’s 5 week working hunter league and NIF qualifiers. This League is made possible by the following peoples help: Judge - Roz Murphy. Stewards - Carol & Harriett. Thanks also to Black Horse Photography for covering the event. All photographs can be viewed and purchased from the Black Horse Photography website.

This league runs every Saturday until November 2 and is open to everyone especially those wanting to qualify for the NI Festival at Cavan. Entries are taken on the day at £15 or for more than one entry it is £14 each. Blackboard order will apply on the day.

To qualify for the final in week five, each horse/ pony and rider combination must compete in three out of the five weeks and within the same class. Competitors must compete in the final to be eligible for league placings, prizes and the overall league horse and pony Working Hunter Champion and Reserve Champion. Placings will be based on a points system. The final is open to everyone with a separate prize giving taking place for competitors on the day and league competitors.

Toni Donnelly - HSI level 2 coach and credited show judge for the Irish Shows Association will be running a Working Hunter Master Class on Wednesday, October 30. Riders will be coached on show ring etiquette, the art of showing in hand and how to walk and ride a working hunter course. Everyone will finish with a mock show including written feed back. Spaces are limted and booking is essential. Please contact Toni Donnelly on 07764786500.

To find out more about the league, please contact Gillian on 07849 106453 or go to the website:

Working Hunter League Results

Working Hunter Horses

Horse Working Hunter Champion - Megan Houston, Craigmount Sparrow

Horse Working Hunter Reserve Champion - Nicola Stewart, Clonkeen Cheeky Charmer

Class 1: 60cm Working Hunter Horse & 4 year old Working Hunter Horse (born 2015) NIF

1) Karina McVeigh, Cheyenne; 2) Harriett Hogan, Tollymore Lass; 3) Chloe Rooney, Aria; 4) Keva Milligan, Bannan Story Teller.

Class 2 - 70cm Working Hunter Horse

1) Nicola Stewart, Clonkeen Cheeky Charmer; 2) Megan Houston, Craigmount Sparrow; 3) Jessica House, Khalasar.

Class 3 - 80cm Working Hunter Horse NIF

1) Megan Houston, Craigmount Sparrow; 2) Nicola Stewart, Clonkeen Cheeky Charmer; 3) Chloe Thompson, Beechburn Lass; 4) Karen Connolly, Olly; 5) Mandy Blakely, Kizzy; 6) Eabha Mallon, Fragile Dreams.

Class 4 - 85cm Small Working Hunter Horse (not exceeding 158cm) NIF

1) Mandy Blakely, Kizzy; 2) Eabha Mallon, Fragile Dreams; 3) Chloe Thompson, Beechburn Lass.

Class 5 - 90cm Working Hunter Horse NIF

1) Julie Donaghy Simpson, He’s The Lad; 2) Chloe Rooney, Paddington; 3) Jas Hogg, Rebel; 4) Hannah Blakely, Lougherne Barbie; 5) Elaine Scott, Castlehaven Diamond Mary; 6) Craig Hills, Lougherne Jig Step.

Class 6 - 1m Working Hunter Horse NIF

1) Julie Donaghy Simpson, He’s The Lad; 2) Craig Hills, Lougherne Inspired; 3) Elaine Scott, Castlehaven Diamond Mary; 4) Chloe Rooney, Danny .

Working Hunter Ponies

Pony Working Hunter Champion - Molly O’Connor, Rossfad Runaway

Pony Working Hunter Reserve Champion - Emily McGowan, Tullaree Fear Bui

Class 8 - 60cm Working Hunter Pony NIF Cradle Stakes also M&M

1) Kaitlyn Kearns, Millhouse Henry; 2) Katie Annett, Derrymattery Fudge; 3) Erin Glennie, Silver Bonnie; 4) Megan Nelson, Telynau Royal Dignitary; 5) Katie Forbes, Abbey.

Class 9 - 70cm Working Hunter Pony NIF Starter Stakes & M&M

1) Molly O’Connor, Rossfad Runaway; 2) Megan Nelson, Telynau Royal Dignitary; 3) Kaitlyn Kearns, Tubbervale Jacob; 4) Amy Breeze, Lily.

Class 10 - 80cm Working Hunter Pony NIF 133cm & M&M

1) Molly O’Connor, Rossfad Runaway; 2) Zara Smyth, Killican Boy; 3) Bethany Smith, Goldengrove Royal Wedding; 4) Niamh Allen-Collins, Lougherne Postman Pat; 5) Ellen Hamilton, Harvey; 6) Kaitlyn Kearns, Doohat Bandit.

Class 11 - 90cm Working Hunter Pony NIF 143cm & M&M

1) Megan Nelson, Diamond; 2) Emma Irwin, Joey; 3) Bethany Smith, Goldengrove Royal Wedding; 4) Zara Smith, Killican Boy.

Class 12 - 1m Working Hunter Pony NIF 153cm

1) Emily McGowan, Tullaree Fear Bui; 2) Zara Smyth, Killican Boy; 3) Emma Irwin, Cahernacole Boy.