Endurance Riding Ireland

News & Results

from ILDRA and the world of Endurance

Welcome to our news and results section.

Here you will find News and Information, Ride Reports, Photos and Results from the many activities ILDRA are involved with.

As a member you can send in stories to be included, must be ILDRA/Endurance related, along with any photos and we will try and include it.

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04 Oct 19

Red Dragon  -  a wild weekend in Wales.

The Home International and Celtic Challenge competitions are among the most important events in the British and Irish endurance calendar and are the eagerly awaited culmination of the year for many endurance riders. With classes for every level from complete novice to experienced race rider, this year’s competition at the Red Dragon ride in Wales had record numbers and a really exciting atmosphere.

The 2019 Irish teams were open to riders from all recognised Endurance clubs in Ireland - given that Ireland had not taken part in last year’s competition, ILDRA was doubly delighted to be able to field two full teams this year, particularly as circumstances had removed some anticipated combinations from contention. In the event, Ireland was indebted to the generosity of Scottish Chef d’equipe, Francis Bakker, who kindly lent two horses for Irish team members’ use.

The preliminaries began on Friday with the team vetting (all horses successfully passed the pre-ride vetting) and the team parade - where the Irish unleashed their secret weapon - the leprechaun. Once set free, the leprechaun roamed widely, bringing havoc and mayhem to the Builth Wells showgrounds and further afield, over the Welsh hills, before being placed under matrimonial constraint and shipped back across the Irish Sea!

Competitors in the 2 day rides - 160km (100 miles), 120km (75 miles) and 80km (50 miles) and the 1 day 80km (50 miles) rides all set off from the venue early on Saturday morning to tackle the infamous ‘Red Dragon’ hill. Visibility on the top was virtually non-existent with heavy fog shrouding the landscape. Ground conditions varied from reasonable to deep and slippery and riders needed to exercise caution over the difficult terrain. Unfortunately by the end of the day Ireland had lost two riders, Savanja Frissen in the 160km class and Helen McFarland in the 80km class were both eliminated for minor lameness, however Mary Thompson and Sarah O’Neill both finished the 1 day 80km class, Jenni Cunningham and Scarlett Chapple successfully completed the 48km class and Claire Barry, Lois Cooper and Nathan Sweeney all sailed (or rather rode!) effortlessly through the first day of their 2 day 80km rides.

Riding conditions deteriorated overnight with further rain and the next day competitors were slogging through deep mud and heavy going over the unforgiving Welsh hills. The Irish team was to suffer one further misfortune when Esther Groen was eliminated at the start of the second day of the 160km ride, however the remainder of the Irish team dug deep and finished without any further mishaps with Mary Thompson completing the final 40km of her 2 day 120km ride, Claire Barry, Lois Cooper and Nathan Sweeney finishing the second half of the 2 day 80km ride and Bree Rutledge and Robyn Catterall successfully making the grade in the novice 40km class.

At a Championships such as this, riding the competition is only half the story, with a huge amount of work going on before and during the event, undertaken mainly by the chef d’equipe and her crew. Ireland was fortunate this year to secure the services of Hannah Catterall as chef d’equipe - Hannah brought not only her boundless enthusiasm and energy to the role but also her own considerable experience as a competitor over many years. All of the team benefitted greatly from her informal but efficient approach and the invaluable support also provided by family members Kirsten Catterall and Kathy Conly.

Team spirit is one of the most elusive and difficult qualities to foster in any sport but it was certainly evident in the Irish teams at Red Dragon this year.

Having suffered a number of casualties, the Irish teams knew that they were unlikely to be in contention for the major prizes, however the final results were actually quite close, with some spectacular individual results for Irish riders - Mary Thompson took 4th place in the 1 day 80km class and won the the 2 day 120km class outright. The two junior riders, Scarlett Chapple and Lois Cooper swept all before them with Scarlett winning Best Junior in the Home Internationals and Lois winning Best Junior in her 2 day 80km class and Best Celtic Challenge Junior. (One for the archivist - Lois’ participation as a junior team rider is an interesting example of the ‘family’ aspect of endurance in that Lois’ grandparents crewed for the first Irish international endurance rider, Barbara Elwell in the 1990’s).

Final results placed the teams respectively third (Home International) and fourth (Celtic Challenge) overall, by relatively narrow margins.

Having experienced the highs (and some lows) of major competition, the Irish teams are now enthused and ready for 2020, when Ireland will host the Home International and Celtic Challenge competitions. Plans are well underway for running the event and potential endurance enthusiasts are planning their season already!

The input required to coordinate such a major event is massive - whether your talents lie in riding, crewing or organising, there will be a role for you to play - get in touch with us at info@enduranceridingireland.com if you would like to be part of our 2020 vision for endurance in Ireland. Details of forthcoming rides and news can be found on the ILDRA website www.enduranceridingireland.com or on our Facebook page. 

Team members 

Home International

  • Esther Groen: Watt du Colombier
  • Mary Thompson: Positano HLM
  • Helen McFarland: She stoops to Conquer
  • Claire Barry: HS Alto
  • Scarlett Chapple: RSPCA Magic
  • Bree Rutledge: Clovermount Rhinestone

Celtic Challenge

  • Savanja Frissen: Asphodele
  • Sarah O’Neill: Samba B
  • Nathan Sweeney: Hamdanieh Farah
  • Lois Cooper: Heatherglen’s Madeleine
  • Jenni Cunningham: Aratahnes Phoebe
  • Robyn Catterall: Aratahnes Adonis


IRL HI/CC Teams announced

12 Sep 19

The 2019 ILDRA Chef d'equipe, Hannah Catterall, is delighted to announce the the Home International and Celtic Challenge team that are heading to Red Dragon, Wales to represent Ireland in October!

  • Esther Groen
  • Savanja Frissen
  • Mary Thompson
  • Helen McFarland
  • Sarah O'Neill
  • Nathan Sweeney
  • Claire Barry
  • Lois Cooper
  • Jenni Cunningham
  • Scarlett Chapple
  • Bree Rutledge
  • Robyn Catterall

Hannah said "I am so pleased that the above have been selected for the Irish team, they've all been so patient and kind with me.

We are very much looking forward to heading over next month to the amazing Red Dragon. Thank you to all involved in creating this team, you know who you are."

image: Chef d'Equipe Hannah Catterall on Ellie - both HICC Veterans.


IRL HI/CC Teams announced

12 Sep 19

Full report and images on Ride Report from Ride Reports and Results

The Home International and Celtic Challenge competitions are among the most important events in the British and Irish endurance calendar and are the eagerly awaited culmination of the year for many endurance riders. With classes for every level from complete novice to experienced race rider, this year’s competition at the Red Dragon ride in Wales had record numbers and a really exciting atmosphere.

The 2019 Irish teams were open to riders from all recognised Endurance clubs in Ireland - given that Ireland had not taken part in last year’s competition, ILDRA was doubly delighted to be able to field two full teams this year, particularly as circumstances had removed some anticipated combinations from contention. In the event, Ireland was indebted to the generosity of Scottish Chef d’equipe, Francis Bakker, who kindly lent two horses for Irish team members’ use.

RClick for Full Report


St. Patrick's Coast

07 Sep 19

The 2019 St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride held on the 7th of September was a resounding success for all involved, whether riding, crewing or helping out, it was a brilliant day enjoyed by many. With a record number of entries, the event was truly bustling with riders and horses of all ages, breeds and disciplines enjoying the fabulous riding offered across the spectacular Lecale area. Beginning at the excellent venue of Downpatrick Racecourse, offering ample parking, on-site stabling, camping and the ever-popular burger van, over 140 riders headed out to explore the vast routes on offer throughout the scenic County Down landscape. Perfect riding conditions on the day made for excellent photography, picked up by the official photographer, SDS Photo. If you missed out on purchasing your photographs at the event, check out the dedicated St. Patrick’s Coast album at; www.sdsphoto.pro/ildra. All official photographs included with this article are courtesy of SDS Photo.

The St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride runs over countryside which is both varied and beautiful. This ride has a taste of everything. All riders firstly head out towards the East Down gallops which gives many horses a chance to stretch their legs at a galloping pace. For riders choosing to head for the 20-mile option, they begin to descend towards the endless beaches of Tyrella to Ballykinler, which are shadowed by the impressive Mourne Mountains before riding back up towards to the historic Old Railway line of County Down. Riders then pass by the peaceful Ballydugan Lake to join the gorgeous grassy fields of Ballydugan and the ancient Windmill Hill are the hidden gems of the County Down countryside often unseen. Perfect ground conditions on the day allowed riders and their horses to enjoy all four paces of their mounts paces if they wished. A gentle canter or a roaring gallop through the countryside were enjoyed by many. For riders who opted for the 10-mile option, following a racing gallop on the East Down gallops they meander back towards the racecourse following a different route across stubble fields before climbing an impressive hill which gives a sweeping view across the racetrack and Downpatrick town. These riders then pass by the old Windmill Hill and Ballydugan Lake before heading towards Hollymount Forest Park and its shaded forest tracks. Riders then cross the County Down railway line twice through grassy fields perfect for a warm-up canter before the riders return onto the racecourse itself for a final gallop.

For the endurance riders, several ride distances were on offer for CTR riders along with a 50 mile (80km) Endurance Race distance. Notably amongst the CTR (Competitive Trail Ride) and ER (Endurance Race) riders and their horses was a 100% pass rate through all of their distances and vettings. A true testament to the fitness and dedication to the training of their horses by the keen endurance riders on the day.

For the pleasure riders, there was the option to receive an introduction to the sport of endurance riding through taking part in a vetting to be eligible to win the Pleasure Ride trophy at St. Patrick’s Coast. Prizes were on offer for both non-member pleasure riders and member pleasure riders of ILDRA and many riders chose to try their hand at endurance and test their horse’s fitness. Pleasure riders also now had the option to try their hand at competing for a Team Award this year, with groups of riders of 3 or 4 joining up to attempt to win the coveted prizes on offer from St. Patrick’s Coast’s many sponsors. Riders simply had to invent a creative team name and declare their interest to take part and then present to the vets for a simple guided vetting procedure before and after the rides. Hopefully many have caught the endurance bug and will try out some further endurance rides. Why not come along to this ride next year? Whether you and your horse are dressage divas or keen showjumpers, this ride is perfect for fitness training and you never know, you might walk away with some fabulous prizes and a gorgeous trophy!

Thanks must go to the attending veterinary surgeons on the day of Stephanie Bethel, MRCVS, Rachel Frew, MRCVS and David Nealon, MRCVS who diligently checked all of the competitive and pleasure riders choosing to vet their horses throughout the day. All of the vets were kept busy by the number of riders keen to give endurance riding a go! Thanks, must also go to the stewards in the vetting area who helped guide newcomers through the vetting process and the many attentive vet writers who ably assisted the vets.

Joining St. Patrick’s Coast for the sixth year was the ever-welcome RDA. Several riders and RDA volunteers enjoyed riding along the racecourse, enjoying the rural views of the surrounding countryside. Congratulations go to all of the RDA riders taking part in the St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride.

A huge thank you must go to the sponsors of St. Patrick’s Coast who have kindly supported this ride since its beginning six years ago. Many thanks to Pat Turley of Kingsfield Haylage, a long-standing sponsor of St. Patrick’s Coast, for supplying several bales of haylage as prizes and for assisting during the prize-giving. Thanks also go to Pat for his assistance during the preparation for St. Patrick’s Coast. Judy Maxwell of Bailey’s Horse Feed also kindly supplied several bags of Bailey’s Endurance Mix as prizes, along with samples of feed and treats for all of the riders competing at St. Patrick’s Coast. Many thanks to Judy and the team at Bailey’s Horse Feed for their ongoing support. Thanks, must go to Downpatrick Racecourse and to Richard Lyttle and the management team for allowing the usage of the racecourse’s excellent facilities and for kindly providing 2 free entry tickets for the next race day at Downpatrick. Thanks also go to the specialist endurance tack manufacturer Performance Equestrian, who kindly provided a voucher for a new endurance bridle as a prize for the top CTR rider. Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant kindly provided an evening buffet meal to thank the many stewards and landowners involved in this event. For 2019, 3 new sponsors joined the team at St. Patrick’s Coast including the wonderful treat company, Likit with riders receiving a bar within their rider packs, greatly enjoyed by many horses, Coca-Cola for providing Deep Riverrock Water and Coca-Cola Zero as refreshing drinks for our many stewards and volunteers and to Blue Frog shavings for supplying several bales of their heat-sterilised wood shavings as prizes for our riders. Our thanks go to our new sponsors and we sincerely hope you continue to support this wonderful event as it grows in popularity.

Without the help of several stewards and volunteers on many of the road crossings, this ride would simply not exist. The organising committee of St. Patrick’s Coast is extremely thankful for their help upon the day ensuring riders could cross safely and with care across what are busy main roads. Without their assistance, riders would be simply unable to access certain sections of the route and would miss out on some spectacular countryside views. The committee would also like to extend its thanks to the many volunteers who have helped set up and organise the ride in the days and weeks beforehand. If you know anyone who would kindly support this ride on the day by helping at road crossings, please contact the organising committee. You will be well fed throughout the day with lunch and tasty home-baked goods of cakes and buns and you will be well thanked for your support and time.  

St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride doesn’t just end with the ride. Several riders, crew, stewards, volunteers and over 40 landowners enjoyed an evening buffet at the racecourse, kindly provided by Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant. Excellent food and good company made for a wonderful evening. This meal is not only an opportunity to thank all of the wonderful landowners and volunteers involved with the Ride, but it is also the much-anticipated awards presentation where riders eagerly await to hear if they have won any of the much sought after prizes displayed in the ride office!

The Endurance Race Riders of Helen McFarland on ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ and Mary Thompson on ‘Horseware Positano’ fought a close race with only seconds between their finishing times! A true testament to both horse and rider fitness completing 50 miles across the St. Patrick’s Coast routes. Several CTR riders competed at St. Patrick’s Coast to win the top CTR rider award and the chance to receive a new endurance bridle from the specialist endurance tack company of Performance Equestrian, the lucky winner of this prize was Susan Hunter on ‘Colour Cascade’. Bree Rutledge, Horse Week’s very own editor completed a 25-mile CTR gaining herself and her horse ‘Clovermount Rhinestone’ their Bronze Shamrock in endurance and winning the Novice Championship in this year’s ILDRA National Championships, held at St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride. Congratulations go to all of ILDRA’s CTR and ER riders on the successful completion of their rides.

Congratulations go to Gwen Jaswal and her horse ‘Queenie’ who were the winners of the Helena Connolly Pleasure Ride trophy for ILDRA members completing 20-miles. Gwen is a regular rider at ILDRA events enjoying taking part in pleasure rides. There is also a non-member pleasure ride trophy on offer at St. Patrick’s Coast and the 2019 Kilgarry Breeze trophy was won by Toni Quail on ‘Susie’ who completed the 10-mile route. Several other spot prizes were awarded including prizes for the youngest riders taking part in St. Patrick’s Coast of Ted Geary, Fergus Lowry and Emily Moore. New for 2019 was the introduction of a special Pleasure Ride Team Competition event, many riders joined forces to try a vetting and have the chance to win this new trophy. Strictly Come Prancing 2 were the lucky winners of this new event, congratulations go to everyone taking part in this new class. All prize winners received a range of goodies from our sponsors including a bag of Bailey’s feeds, Blue Frog Wood shavings and a bale of Kingsfield Haylage.

A huge thank you must go to the organising committee of St. Patrick’s Coast of the ride organiser, child protection officer and chief steward, David Cunningham who is always ably assisted by John Anderson, a man who dedicates so much time and effort to both ILDRA and St. Patrick’s Coast and without John’s help, this ride would not be the same! John is always on hand to help with anything that needs doing in relation to the ride whether it is clearing the route or helping to move livestock, John is the go-to man. The committee would like to extend its sincere thanks and gratitude to John for all the work he does. Thanks also go to Neil Anderson for managing logistics and Health and Safety and Kirsten Conly for running the ride office and to Maggie Pattinson, Official Vet Steward and Timekeeper. Thanks also go to Alastair Conly for managing the venue, Robyn Catterall for her scoring for the all-important awards and to Helen McFarland for organising finances. Thanks also go to the official Ground Jury of David Cunningham, Neil Anderson, Kirsten Conly-Devlin, Maggie Pattinson and Brian Dunn. Without the work of this committee, this ride would simply not exist. The success of this ride is a testament to the dedication of the organisers, volunteers, stewards, sponsors and landowners who ensure that this ride continues to exist and go from to strength to strength each year. There is simply no other ride in Ireland, North or South, which comes close to the spectacular scenery and off-route riding offered by the prestigious St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride. It is truly the emerald jewel of endurance riding in Ireland. Be sure to watch the official website at www.stpatrickscoastenduranceride.com for the date of next year’s ride, you’d be mad to miss out!


St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride Results and Awards

ER Results

80km (50 miles): 1st Helen McFarland on She Stoops to Conquer. 2nd Mary Thompson on Horseware Positano (Best Condition).

CTR Results

40km (25 miles): Bree Rutledge on Clovermount Rhinestone.

32km (20 miles): Karina McVeigh on Cheyenne, Ruth Lyness on Autumn Whisper, Jocelyn Willis on Sam, Susan Hunter on Colour Cascade.

16km (10 miles): Gail Hadden on Diesel, Emma Hayes on Yasser Arafat.

ILDRA Nationals Novice Championship

Bree Rutledge on Clovermount Rhinestone.

Best CTR Rider

Susan Hunter on Colour Cascade.

Winner of the Helena Connolly Member Pleasure Ride Trophy

Gwen Jaswal on Queenie.

Winner of the Kilgarry Breeze Non-Member Pleasure Ride Trophy

Toni Quail on Susie.

Team PR Competition

1st Strictly Come Prancing 2; Mary-Kate McClory on Gem, Grainne Maguire on Fynn, Grace Vallely on Tara, Chloe Crozier on Simba.

2nd Hilltop Hackers; Gillian McCormick on Roly, Emma Wallace on Mulla Miracle, Ruth Hendry on Walter.

3rd Strictly Come Prancing 1; Megan Baird on Nero, Lesley Whiteside on Reddy Teddy, Rebekah Whiteside on Maise Daisy.

Best PR Team Name

Here for the Craic; Richard Lyttle, Jayne Woodward, Rozy Corry, Ruth Garrett.

Side Saddle Award

Robyn Catterall on Arctic Eclipse.

Racehorse to Riding Horse

1st Tahnee O’Hara on Flycorn. 2nd Grainne Maguire on Fynn.

Oldest Horse completing St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride

24-year-old Calvyn owned by Rozy Corry.

Youngest Riders completing St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride

Ted Geary, Fergus Lowry, Emily Moore.

Lowest Final Heart Rate out of all vetted CTR and PR riders

Lynne Vinaccia on Misty Blue finishing on a heart rate of 34bpm.

Most Courteous Rider on Course as Spotted by the Ride Organiser

Cora McNulty on Pippa.


Cam Forest

25 Aug 19

ILDRA (Irish Long Distance Riding Association) headed to Cam Forest near Limavady for their second visit this year on the 25th of August. Offering Competitive Trail Rides (CTRs) and Pleasure Rides there was plenty of riding on offer for everyone. Beautiful sunny and warm weather made for excellent riding conditions with many riders topping up their famous ‘equestrian’ tan!

Cam Forest is one of the more remote and rugged locations on ILDRA’s calendar of events. Long trails meander through the forest park, passing by small streams and crossing through fords. The attending vet was Stephanie Bethel, MRCVS, who was kept busy with the numerous CTR riders completing various distances throughout Cam Forest.

Congratulations go to Kate Higgins on ‘Mr Finnegan’ and Jayne Woodward on ‘Boycie’ for completing their Pre-Novice CTRs with ILDRA. Congratulations also go to Bree Rutledge and her horse ‘Clovermount Rhinestone’ for successfully completing a 20-mile CTR and gaining the first stage to being awarded their Bronze Shamrock in endurance. ILDRA has an excellent Shamrock system of awards which ensures that horses and riders progress safely through the levels of endurance and attain the correct fitness required for completing longer and tougher rides. Many thanks go to the ride organisers of Kirsten and Kathy Conly for marking and running the ride on the day. Thanks also go to the forestry service for allowing access to Cam Forest.

ILDRA’s next event is the hotly anticipated St. Patrick’s Coast Endurance Ride on the 7th of September. Starting at the excellent venue of Downpatrick Racecourse this ride takes in so many different aspects of the County Down landscape, from gallops, old railway lines, miles of beach, shaded forest tracks to endless grassy fields. Unlike other pleasure rides hosted by ILDRA, all pleasure rides must be pre-entered and in advance using the online entry system, details of which are available on St. Patrick’s Coast’s website and facebook page. Entries are already quickly filling up so don’t delay in booking your place so you don’t miss out on simply the best ride in all of Northern Ireland!


10 miles (16km)

Jayne Woodward on Boycie, Kate Higgins on Mr Finnegan, Gail Hadden on Diesel, Ruth Lyness on Autumn Whisper.

20 miles (32km)

Helen McFarland on She Stoops to Conquer, Bree Rutledge on Clovermount Rhinestone.



Cam Forest

26 May 19