Preparations run smoothly: Millstreet horse show kicks off


THE DARK clouds and deluges of rain over Duhallow had passed away and patches of blue sky were beginning to emerge above Clara Mountain as preparations went on for the Millstreet International Horse Show which has just started.

Now in its 33rd year, the show, established by local entrepreneur and equestrian enthusiast Noel C Duggan, remains a family and community affair with up to 100 locals joining with the Duggan family in getting the Green Glens arena ready for competition.

Noel C’s son, Thomas, takes time out from moving a giant flower box with a forklift to predict that this year’s show, with a prize fund of €180,000, will be one of the busiest in recent years, coming as it does a week before the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS.

“We’re usually a week after Dublin but they decided to go back a week this year because of the Olympics so we had to move forward but everything is going well – we actually have one of the Olympians, Roger-Yves Bost from France, competing here which is great.”

Across by the stabling area, looking as energetic as ever, 79-year-old Noel C is busy, alternating between directing riders and horses to their stabling areas and extending warm welcomes to old familiar faces and newcomers alike.

“Welcome, welcome,” he hails yet another participant before revealing that all 1,200 stables at the complex, including 500 new ones, have been booked by competitors. The number of entries is set to top 6,500 in the 92 categories and more than 20,000 visitors are expected.

“We had two inches of rain here last night, between 2am and 8am, and yet at 9am all the arenas were dry and ready for the horses. We’ve done a lot with the eight outdoor arenas and the training areas, putting down a sand base so everything is ready to go,” he said.

Course designer Olaf Herrmann, from Cologne in Germany, is paying his first visit to Green Glens. But he endorsed Noel C’s opinion, saying that the standard of arena was as good as he has come across in Europe. “It is of the highest level compared to what I have seen in Europe so I think we will have a good show,” said Mr Herrmann who has been designing courses for 25 years.

Equally impressed was William Lappin from Portadown, Co Armagh. Sitting on a deckchair outside his mobile tack shop, the Equestrian Store, he said he has been coming to Millstreet since 1988 and has always been impressed by the Green Glens.

“It’s seven and a half hours from our house but Millstreet is special – it’s the people you meet here, they are more friendly people here than you ever met in your life and all creeds and generations come here.”

The show runs until August 12th,