Dublin Horse Show weathers the rain


Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí arrived in style in the mayoral coach to officially open the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show today.

Although the official opening was at noon, the classes were already well under way, with the Performance Irish Draught Class kicking off proceedings at 8am.

The five-day 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 is competing in his first show since London, and other Olympic gold medallists competing here include Steve Guerdat from Switzerland and Britain's Nick Skelton.

The 139th show, which runs until Sunday, was scheduled later than normal to facilitate the equestrian competitors in the Olympics.

Thousands of free ponchos were distributed as the rain poured down, but the weather did not dissuade spectators who sheltered under cover to watch the classes.

RDS chief executive Michael Duffy said the event had experienced some very wet days in the past and that attendances were still healthy. He said the show pumped some €43 million into the Irish economy annually, when indirect spending was included.

Parking was at a premium in Ballsbridge, and the organisers encouraged people to use park and ride facilities at Muckross Park College and UCD.

Opening the show, Cllr Ó Muirí said he had grown up watching the Aga Khan competition and that competitors such as John Ledingham, Eddie Macken and Paul Darragh were household names.

He said the show was extremely important for tourism, and "the bloodstock industry is very important for Ireland . . . people will come here and go down the country as well. It's not just for Dublin".

Tomorrow is Ladies' Day, while the competition for the Aga Khan trophy gets under way on Friday.