Spring Show may make comeback at RDS


THE SPRING Show could return to the farming calendar if a feasibility study being commissioned by the Royal Dublin Society makes a case for its revival.

Speaking at the opening of the five-day Dublin Horse Show yesterday, RDS chief executive Michael Duffy said the society was going out to tender “to do a pretty significant feasibility study” on the case for a revitalised Spring Show.

The Spring Show brought agriculture to the heart of Dublin and was popular with both rural and urban dwellers before it ended 20 years ago.

The possibility of reviving it was mooted last year and Mr Duffy said progress had been made on the proposal.

The feasibility study will begin after the horse show finishes and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

“We’ll have a look at it and see what it tells us. It would be lovely to think that we could do something, but only if it makes a difference . . . We are conscious that there’s a lot of really good and really strong high-quality events out there, like the National Ploughing Championships, the Tullamore Show and Bloom,” he said.

The 139th Dublin Horse Show opened amid downpours yesterday but by the afternoon the weather had improved, which bodes well for Ladies’ Day today.

Mr Duffy struck an optimistic note saying the number of entrants was up by 11 per cent while advance ticket sales were “very, very strong” for tomorrow and Saturday. The show has a prize fund of more than €944,000 for more than 1,400 horses and ponies taking part. Olympic bronze medal winner Cian O’Connor was at the show early and competed on Olympic partner Blue Lloyd 12 before dashing to the Mansion House for the Olympic homecoming ceremony.

He said the horse’s performance was “promising for the week ahead”. He had the bronze medal with him and hopes to add something else to his trophy cabinet when he competes for the Aga Khan trophy tomorrow: “That was just a warm-up class for Blue Lloyd but I didn’t go against the clock as I’ll be aiming him for the Aga Khan on Friday, the idea for today was to make sure he is in good shape and recovered.”

Other Olympic gold medallists competing here include Steve Guerdat from Switzerland and Britain’s Nick Skelton.

Separately, the RDS said there were now four parties seeking to buy naming rights for its main arena. Mr Duffy said it would help to fund an expansion to the arena, which is home to Leinster rugby and doubles as a concert venue.

He said the sale of naming rights to the main arena would not change the name of the overall RDS venue or affect its other activities.

It was a busy year for the RDS, having hosted the Eucharistic Congress and more recently the Bruce Springsteen concert, while the Simmonscourt complex will host a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in December.