Poignant memories and a presidential hopeful at the Dublin Horse Show

Showjumper Susan Fitzpatrick one of many remembering her brother Jonathan at RDS

Jessica O’Driscoll and Kelly Hutchinson from Co Kilkenny at the Dublin Horse Show 2018. Photograph: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Nineteen-year-old showjumper Susan Fitzpatrick lost her brother, Jonathan, a year ago after he had left the Dublin Horse Show to tend to horses at home in Kilkenny.

He crashed on the road home: “I always aspire to be like him. He was with me at every show that I went to since I was young and he’s been a really big influence on my life,” she said.

Susan Fitzpatrick (19) at the RDS. Her brother Jonathan died last year in a car crash. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Her brother is being remembered by many at this year's show. Last month, the first Irish National Stud Jonathan Fitzpatrick Internship, supported by Coolmore Stud, was awarded to Robert Shackleford. It was presented by their mother, Sharon Fitzpatrick.

One of the country's most highly-regarded up-and-coming showjumpers, Susan Fitzpatrick, from Keatingstown, dreams of representing Ireland in the Olympics.


On Wednesday, she was placed eighth in the six-year-old horses jump-off, riding Keatingstown Gotha De Baudignies. Later she faced the first round of the International seven- and eight-year-old competition.

“I’m really confident. I have four really nice horses here, so I’m confident for the week,” said Fitzpatrick, who won a gold medal at the 2013 European Pony Championships when she was just 14.

"This year has really been quite a turnaround for me. I've been quite unlucky the last couple of years and things didn't really go right for me. Since I moved [stables] to Marion Hughes and Miguel Bravo things have changed dramatically."

Her family has played a huge role in her chosen path, encouraging her to ride early on: “I started when I was four. My mum used to ride and she had a couple of horses at home.”

“Showjumping is what I’m going to do probably for the rest of my life,” she said.

While Fitzpatrick and others are working hard at the RDS, most people are simply enjoying the show.

"I think it's scintillating. I think it's sparkly and it's bright and there's lots of different cultures and people and different talents" says Bronwyn Smith, who had arrived just an hour earlier.

For Aidan Ryan, the annual horse show brings back memories of his childhood. “We used to come here as kids for a couple of years but I live in London now. Just home to see family for a day, so we decided to meet up here,” he said.

Horse breeder Noel Hamilton likes to come up from Wicklow and see the thoroughbreds: "I really enjoy it. It's one of those dates in the calendar that I never miss and I've been coming here for many a year."

Orlaith Carmody and her husband presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy greet Catherine O’Sullivan at the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy compared the horse show to the National Ploughing Championships.

“This is when the country comes up to Dublin and around the Ploughing, Dublin goes down to see what the country is like. So this is a very, very special event,” he said.

Describing himself as “confident but not complacent” in the presidential race, Duffy said many of those he had met around the jumping rings are happy that an election will take place.

“My presidency, if I’m successful, is going to be a very open and transparent presidency. I’m going to open up Freedom of Information to the Áras,” said the businessman.

The Dublin Horse Show runs until August 12th.