Tom MacGuinness, the 67-year-old founder of Horseware Ireland, has won his first FEI CEI-3* 160km contest, with his 11-year-old chestnut gelding Horseware Sasha D'Aillais. The pair completed the route over grassland and soft sandy tracks at just over 18km/hr ahead of Spain’s Maria Alvarez Ponton (JM Bucefala) and Omar Blanco Rodrigo (Twyst Maison Blanche).
The Endurance GB Young Rider National Championship saw Madison (Maddie) Pomroy, with Angel’s Twilight Spirit on loan from Roz Plail, and Katie Bedwin, riding Sue Higgins’ Aberllwyd Ibn Phariz take the well-deserved titles of Champion and Reserve Champion respectively.
In the CEI-2*, Horseware HLM Iguazu, owned by Tom McGuiness and ridden by Martin McNamara set a record for Ireland - the first time riders from the Emerald Isle have completed an FEI double.
Tom, who heads up Horseware and also plays polo in his spare time, said: “As Sasha is trained in Spain, I think he was acclimatised to the conditions and this might have helped. It was warm and humid at times but there was a breeze in the forest itself. This horse is amazing, I’m very happy with how he went. He is just so generous, even when we got lost he just turned round and retraced our steps and got going. I didn’t have to dig into the well at all - he was just on the bridle and there was a lot more left in him which is exciting. After this he will have two weeks relaxing in the field and then come back into work with lots of walking out before he begins his training again. We will aim to do an 80km ride and then if we feel he is fit and ready to go, we will be at the European Championships.”
Tom’s entry at the 25th anniversary FEI King’s Forest Ride is part of the build up to the European Championships taking place over similar terrain at Euston Park in Suffolk in August. He also hopes to field an Irish team in the Nations Cup at the same event.
McGuinness says, “I thought I would give endurance a go and initially I thought I would find it boring but the more I discovered, it is anything but. I play polo but I am not born to it like I am to endurance. I love every aspect of it - the sense of adventure of riding one horse into the ‘unknown’ and the real team side of things behind the horse and crewing.”
Helen McFarland, Chairman of Ireland’s Long Distance Riding Association (ILDRA) said: “ILDRA is an incredibly small organisation and we greatly value all our athletes whether they are achieving their dream of completing their first 30km ride or as in Tom’s case realising their first 3* 160km win. An Irish sweep of the 2* and 3* at the prestigious King’s Forest Ride is a real tribute to the hard work put in by Tom, his trainer Jordi, by Martin and the rest of the team.”
Dianne Luke, who together with husband Paul supported by Karen Collier, has been organising King’s Forest for 25 years, said: “I certainly didn’t think in 1994 that I would still be running this ride today. Yet over the years despite all the hard work, so much fun has been had and so many true friendships have been formed.”
Paying tribute, Endurance GB Chair, Rebecca Kinnarney, said: “Well done to all those who achieved their goals here and particularly to our fantastic Young Rider champion Maddie Pomroy and Reserve, Katie Bedwin. It’s unfortunate that there were no finishers in the 160km Senior National Championships but endurance is a tough sport, particularly in a country with such changeable weather.
“Thanks to Dianne and the team, King’s Forest has become one of the high points of the Endurance GB calendar. The ride is not only renowned for its stunning course and fantastic organisation, but also the hospitality and real sense of camaraderie that epitomises our sport. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the team here for that and look forward to seeing the ride prosper into its next quarter century.”
top: Martin, Jordi and Tom.
bottom: Tom on Horseware Sasha D'Aillais (David Saunders Photography)