Horse Sport Ireland Young Handler Championship winners crowned at National Ploughing Championships

  • 20 September 2019, 11:24

The final of the Horse Sport Ireland Young Handler Championship took place on September 17th – the opening day of the 88th National Ploughing Championships in Fenagh Co. Carlow, with a total prize fund of €8,250. The Junior Champion was also awarded a family pass to the Horse of the Year Show 2019 and the Senior Champion awarded a week-long stay at a top Irish riding and producing yard.

HSI Junior Young Handler Champion Niamh Sheridan and Reserve Champion Ellie Duggan with Judges Tiernan Gill, Jane Darragh and Declan McArdle along with Eileen Brennan, NPA and PJ Lynam, NPA (Photo: Laurence Dunne/

This is the competitions’ second year of running, with many competitors returning to compete in an effort to improve their placing on last year. Twenty-three competitors in the Junior and Senior section travelled from all parts of the country to display their handling skills, equine knowledge and marketing ability. The aim of the HSI Young Handler class is to assist in the development of the skills of Young Handlers to prepare and present horses for show and sale. The Economic Contribution of the Sport Horse Industry to the Irish Economy Report (2017), identified a sharp decline in the number of young breeders. In 2016 just 0.19% of breeders were less than 20 years of age.

Senior Young Handler Champion Róisín McGrath and Reserve Champion Amy Finn with Judges  Tiernan Gill, Jane Darragh and Declan McArdle along with Eileen Brennan, NPA and PJ Lynam, NPA (Photo: Laurence Dunne/

The judges of the Championship final, Jane Darragh, Tiernan Gill and Declan McArdle, spoke of the importance of this class for developing equine marketing skills and the next generation of Irish breeders:

“We were looking for the individual who we believed could demonstrate a horse for sale, emphasising the horse’s best traits with ease in standing and movement, we also scored videos sent in from competitors to market their animal. The person who could show the horse off to the best of its potential – that’s what we were looking for today”  commented Tiernan Gill.

Jane Darragh added “The Juniors were fantastic – I think they’ve learnt a lot and it’s terrific for going forward, if they want to go onto breeding or showing. I think this class makes our young competitors more confident, they learn how to produce their animals: how to stand them, what to do on a triangle, etc. Say in the IPS when they’re showing in-hand there is no triangle – they have to learn that so it’s very good. To any young person considering taking part I would say go for it!”

“I think the standard of Young Handler into the second year of this competition has come on greatly, the competitors have definitely improved. The work on the video has also greatly improved and I think today, with regards the theory and how they presented the horses, was a credit to them – particularly those in the top six ”  commented Declan McArdle.

Junior Champion: Níamh Sheridan

The Junior Champion was awarded to 18-year-old Níamh Sheridan from Co. Donegal, presenting her 13-year-old part-bred welsh gelding, Wyndham Limelight. Niamh travelled from Donegal to qualify at the Clarecastle Show.

“I think the Young Handler class is great, it really encouraged me to look further into Wyndham Limelight’s breeding, I found that really interesting – it brought on my knowledge so much about how to market horses well. I think young equestrians should definitely give it a go, it’s so much fun you get to meet so many people that are interested in the same industry as you and learn so much about producing and marketing horses,” commented Niamh Sheridan.

Junior Reserve: Ellie Duggan

The Junior reserve went to 16 -year-old Ellie Duggan from Co. Cork who presented her 5-year-old Welsh Section B mare, Janpete Chinadoll.  Ellie qualified at the Dunmanway show.


Junior placings:

Placing Name Pony name
1st Niamh Sheridan Wyndham Limelight (PBW)
2nd Ellie Duggan Janpete Chinadoll (W Sec B)
3rd Megan O’Sullivan Rollswood Nureyev (PBW/AR)
4th Érin Sheridan Cosford Midnight Mouse (PBW)
5th Laura Jackson Donode Dusty (CP)
6th Rachel Alken Gallant Prince (CP)


Senior Champion: Róisín McGrath

Senior champion was awarded to 22 year old Róisín McGrath with her home-produced 7 year old Connemara Mahanagh Heather. Róisín qualified at the Adamstown show.

I competed again this year to better myself, I wanted to bump up a couple of places and improve my own skills! Mary Rothwell gave me some tips and tricks at the final last year and they certainly stood to me by the looks of things! I’m studying Equine Science in Limerick so it does certainly help that I’ve the background lingo in areas but it’s so helpful to learn more on how to produce, market and sales pitch selling animals from home.

Senior Reserve: Amy Finn

The senior reserve went to 22 year old Amy Finn from Co. Kilkenny presenting her 14 year old Traditional Irish sport horse mare, Orbit Jewel. Amy qualified at the Adamstown show.

Senior placings:

Placing Name Pony name
1st Róisín McGrath Mahanagh Heather (CP)
2nd Amy Finn Orbit Jewel (ISH)(TIH)
3rd Melissa Glynn Crannaghmore Pearl (ISH)
4th Alix Cunneen Loughnatousa Cherry Tree (ISH)
5th Chloe Marks Killegar Mist (CP)
6th Rebecca Grimes Tullyland Tempo (TB)


  • Tags: