With a member pulling out of our team at the last moment and the largest number of entries in the National Intervarsity Competition, the odds were against the NUIG Equestrian team.
Spirits were running high though and you could see the determination on the faces of the show jumping team of Samantha Duffy, Joey Igoe, and John Philbin as they entered the ring. This determination shone through in their scores as they all proceeded to the second round, a first for a NUIG team.
The second round brought with it some eventful displays and our team rode out of their skins. Unfortunately, the judges went against them and they all bowed out before the final six. This great display however, left them ranked fourth in the overall show jumping team event.
Next, gritting their teeth to stop them from chattering, it was freezing, Laura Hamilton and Kate Bird rode for the dressage team. Being short one member, the pressure was on them, but they both battled hard and rode brilliantly. Laura was unfortunate not to get through the second round, but Kate battled through. As the rounds progressed and the tests got harder, Kate came up against some tough competition, including Christopher Corballis, last year’s winner and Gerald Bloomer of TCD, a veteran to the competition. Kate was not discouraged, however, and rode two brilliant dressage tests to overcome the boys. Finishing fifth overall, she showed the boys that anything they can do, she could do better!
Last up were the Prix Caprilla team of Antoinette Burns, Louis Conlon and Catherine Cullinan. We thought luck was on our side when it decided to rain for the first time that weekend as we began our warm up. However, it was not to be our day and, although we felt we deserved a team prize for our team effort on knocking the fence, we missed out on the rosettes.
So as we sat around our table at the awards presentation, our hopes were dying as they announced the sixth to fourth placing of the overall teams, and still not mention of the major contenders of UCD and TCD. Then, as third place was awarded to NUIG, a hush fell on our table, followed by an almighty roar as we celebrated our second year in third place (and keeping the Dubs out of the top three is always a bonus).
We must thank our Chef d’Equipe Eva Mulryan who, because of injury, couldn’t compete herself. Also to Audrey Duffy who kept our spirits high and all our sponsors, especially Mulryan Auctioneers whom, without their kindness, we would not have been able to compete.
The NUIG Equestrian Club will be hosting the event next year and we hope that with a full team and home ground, we can reclaim that team prize.