The annual Route Gymkhana took place at the well-known Bowl Arena, Portrush on Saturday 1 September.
As usual the ground conditions were perfect despite the rain in the preceding week and the sun even broke through on occasions during the day. A super days jumping took place over the track designed by Philip White with the ponies taking to the field first. The 128 open jump off saw three riders take on the shortened track. Jake Burnham Hand unfortunately faulted at the second fence and Rocco Quinn took advantage and executed a lovely clear round. However Niamh Carr rode a much tighter track, taking all the turns while still leaving all poles up to win the class by 10 seconds.
In the 138 open Britney McAfee faulted leaving an opportunity for Sam Woodrow however two fences down for Sam left Britney the clear winner. Niamh Burnham Hand who was second of six in the jump off of the 148 open, had a steady clear round in a time which was just which was beatable, however Britney was not able to capitalize on this with Jessie Jay, having a fence down in a much faster time.
With only one more clear from Danielle Lynch on her young pony An Ri Ban, Niamh held onto the lead and secured the Tommy Hunter Memorial trophy. The last pony class was a Table A speed with a joker fence which proved very influential. The joker was a style fence at 1.10m which if cleared reduced the time for the round by five seconds, however if faulted the time was increased by five seconds!
Connie Patton cleared all the fences and the joker but a few riders later Britney on Jessie Jay bettered the time by six seconds to take the lead. Young Olivia Quinn on Roscoe similarly cleared all fences including the imposing Joker but was not just quick enough. Britney came back in on Sticky Toffee and went at a blistering pace to clear all the fences in the fastest time however she faulted at the Joker and so her time was increased by five seconds to leave her in third place.
While the ponies were jumping the showing ring was also in full swing under the watchful eye of the judge Mrs Liz Payne. With ponies of all sizes, shapes and colours on view, ribbons were awarded in several classes after which mini jumping was on offer for those who were just starting out on their jumping career.
The horses then took to the arena which was now restored to full size after the completion of the showing classes. The 70cm and 80cm classes were both modified two-phase classes which gave all riders the chance to make good use of all the jumps on the well-manicured Bowl turf. In the 90cm class the second phase was timed and the early double clear was Eimear McMahon on 45.29 seconds. Melanie Moorhead on her speedy Lady Phoenix was well ahead on time but unfortunately missed the turn to the second last and fell.
Fiona Thompson was clear to the last on Bonnie, who took a dislike to it and downed tools. A determined Fiona had words with Bonnie who then completed the track without further ado. Eavan White on her skewbald mare Kaleidoscope rode an accurate and speedy round to finish clear in 38.89 seconds to take the lead which she held onto despite a valiant effort from Kathryn Knox on her lovely cob Springvale Prince.
The next horse class was a jump off with five of the original starters going clear. Fiona Thompson on Bonnie was first to do the speed round but decided a steady clear was the best option. Indeed this proved a good choice as the next three rider all faulted leaving Lisa Boyle on her talented Bannside Boy to only one to deny Fiona the win. Lisa is well known for throwing caution to the wind and Bannside Boy responded well leaving Lisa the clear winner by 11 seconds.
The speed with Joker had all riders eager to win what was to be the last class in 2012 on the lovely grass arena at the Bowl. First in the draw was Lisa Boyle, however this time her tight angle to the second last just proved too much for Bannside Boy, who tripped up depositing Lisa in the process, but happily both were unscathed. Shirley Smyth on Rhyme executed a lovely round and cleared the joker to finish in 45.93 seconds.
Jacqui McKinney had a faster time but had missed fence eight in her rush to the finish and even clearing the joker did not prevent her from elimination! Melanie Moorhead was very precise on her turns this time but unfortunately clipped one fence to finish with four faults. Last to go Eavan White on the careful Kaleidoscope was not able to match Shirley’s tight turns and was four seconds adrift at the finish, and had to be content with second place.
The Route branch would like to thank the judges Mrs Noosha Darragh and Mrs Liz Payne, and all who helped in the running of the show. The committee is now preparing the winter training programme for all the members, some of whom have been very successful in several disciplines this year.
Both senior and junior Mounted Games teams qualified for the Zone finals in Scotland, the tetrathletes also competed in Scotland and in the Area dressage and eventing competitions Rosie Alcorn and Lucy Lamont went to UK finals in Cheshire for both disciplines. Rosie Alcorn on her mare Fiorella won the UK Open eventing competition, a truly remarkable result and well deserved for all her preparation and training. At the show jumping at the RDS in August, Hannah Patterson and Ruari Logue were both highly placed in the Equitation classes.
The autumn programme will include training in Dressage, Show jumping, horse care and rallies for members of all ages. We will be looking to improve the current talent within the branch and would like to encourage new members of all ages to join up and participate in the horse care training and all the disciplines on offer. Join now and membership is valid till end December 2013! Check out web site www.pcuk.org/route for membership or phone E White 7082 3603