RD Equestrian Pony Club in Fintona is buzzing after five of its members qualified to take part in this weekend’s prestigious Dengie Championships in England.
The young riders headed off on Thursday with their trainer Roisin Donnelly who runs the club. It is a remarkable achievement as they make up almost half of the 11-strong team from the North. Prior to this year RD Equestrian Pony Club based at the Ecclesville Centre had one person made the finals in any year.
The five girls are Jeni Lyons (18), Caoimhe Hegarty (15) Clara Daly and Nadia Donnelly (both 15) and Zara Jane Kelly (8). They qualified to represent Northern Ireland after taking part in the finals of the Area 17 competition at the Portmore Equestrian Centre last Friday (24th) having reached that stage by going through a number of preliminary rounds held in the January and February.
Clearly delighted, trainer Roisin Donnelly said, “ It is very exciting. We can’t wait and the girls have been fantastic. Getting to the finals in England was our goal and anything after that will be a great bonus. It is a tremendous achievement to qualify and get to England. What is more impressive is that some of the girls do not even own a horse or pony as they do not have the facilities to keep one. We are very proud of them all.”
At the Portmore competition last week Nadia Donnelly on ‘˜Benny’ took top place in her competition, Caoimhe Hegarty on ‘Mr Shamrocker’ finished second while Zara-Jayne Kelly on ‘Ballyglunin Girl’ snatched the last of the qualifying spaces finishing forth.
In the senior competition Clara Daly took top place and Jenny Lyons also qualified with a fifth place.
The five girls set off this week accompanied Roisin Donnelly and their ponies and horses. The competitions takes place on Saturday and Sunday. Whatever happens it has been a marvellous adventure for the girls of RD Equestrian Pony Club in Fintona.
Tyrone have underlined their All Ireland credentials by crushing Down in Sunday's Ulster Championship Final