A TWO-day Horses for Courses festival in Athlacca - which is uniquely home to four equestrian sports - has raised in the region of €40,000 in aid of the Robbie McNamara Trust and local community projects.
On Saturday, the village hosted the country’s first novelty challenge for half-breds – with drafts, hunters, showjumpers and polocrosse horses going under starter’s orders like their thoroughbred counterparts.
The challenge included a draft horse dash, an over 50s race, a ladies race and an open challenge.
Prior to proceedings getting underway, Limerick Pony Club performed musical ponies which saw a number of ponies dancing in sync to music with young jockeys on board.
“It was absolutely brilliant fun, absolutely brilliant - I never laughed as much in my entire life,” commented Brian McMahon on the novelty races.
The two days of equestrian games were the brainchild of Brian, a former junior European showjumping champion and local racing trainer Enda Bolger.
“The racing was very funny - the course, which was over approximately two miles, was very twisty which took the speed out of it. There were fallers but nothing serious,” Brian explained.
There was also a range of others activities on Saturday to keep people of all ages entertained.
“We had hurling on horseback which was great fun. There were rides on two small little ponies along with bouncy castles and a bucking bronco. All that took place on the hill up in Rathcannon and you could look down then on the course. People of all ages enjoyed the activities over both days,” said Brian’s wife Mags.
On Sunday, it was down to the serious business when the Dromin-Athlacca Charity Ride – recently voted one of the best of its kind in the world - took place across 10 miles of the lush local landscape.
“We were very pleased with that. There were two rides - a senior and a junior. Again, there were fallers but nothing major,” said Brian of the race which had 112 participants.
While the final figure of the money raised from the weekend has not been confirmed, according to the organisers, it appears to be just shy of €40,000.
Proceeds will go towards Robbie McNamara from Croom who was seriously injured in a fall in Wexford on April 10; and projects in the local community. Robbie and his cousin JT McNamara - who sustained serious injuries during the Cheltenham Festival of 2013 - both followed behind the ride in vehicles.
“We want to thank everyone who supported it. It was a very community orientated event,” said Mags.
All the events were sponsored by Plusvital horse supplement and equine nutrition products. Prizes were presented by Aine Fenton. Thanks were extended to Caitriona Fenton, the product development manager for Plusvital, for the sponsorship.