SOPHIE D’ALTON: Working to increase entries at Irish Internationals

  • 30 May 2019, 15:11

Horse Sport Ireland are proud co-sponsors of the Mullingar International Grand Prix (the third leg of the Horse Sport Ireland Jumping Challenge) which takes place this June Bank Holiday Monday

As part of Horse Sport Ireland’s new Blog, STABLE TALK, Horse Sport Ireland Marketing Manager, Sophie D’Alton gives readers an insight into the work carried out by Horse Sport Ireland’s marketing department.

According to the UCD Report titled: ‘The Contribution of the Sport Horse Industry to the Irish Economy 2017’, there were 15 international equestrian events held in Ireland in 2016, which were estimated to contribute in excess of €67 million in direct expenditure to the Irish economy.

In an effort to attract more international and Irish competitors and in turn to help increase entries at International Eventing and Show Jumping competitions in Ireland, Horse Sport Ireland last year launched a €20,000 bonus incentive scheme (€10,000 for Eventing and €10,000 for Show Jumping) – known as the Horse Sport Ireland Eventing and Horse Sport Ireland Jumping Challenge.

Further to the €20,000 bonus for the winning athletes, Horse Sport Ireland also award €1,000 to the grooms of each winning athlete, because without their hard work and dedication podium placings would not be possible.

Last year’s Eventing bonus of €10,000 was claimed by Australia’s Kevin McNabb after he finished in podium position at Kilguilkey CIC2*, Camphire CIC2* and Tattersalls CCI2*. I was delighted to hear Kevin’s positive feedback about Irish International Events and Horse Sport Ireland’s Eventing Challenge, commenting afterward he said: “I have definitely enjoyed the Irish events. There is always a great atmosphere and they are very rider-friendly events which I really like coming to. As well as that, I feel my horses have always come away as better horses for running at these events. I think the series has been great and going forward it will certainly attract riders from abroad.”

Kevin McNabb winner of the 2018 Horse Sport Ireland Eventing Challenge

The 2019 Eventing Challenge takes place at six Irish international events as listed below:

Venue Date Competition Format
Ballindenisk 19th – 21st April 2019 CCI3* S or L
Tattersalls 29th May – 2nd June CCI3* L
Kilguilkey 28th June – 1st July 2019 CCI3* S
Camphire 24th – 28th July 2019 CCI3* S OR L
Millstreet 22nd – 25th August 2019 CCI3* S OR L
Ballindenisk 26th – 29th September 2019 CCI3* S OR L

The 2019 Jumping Challenge takes place at five Irish international events as listed below:

Venue Date Competition Format
Millstreet 5th – 7th April 2019 CSI1* Grand Prix
Balmoral 15th – 18th May 2019 CSI2* Grand Prix
Mullingar 1 st – 3rd June 2019 CSI2* Grand Prix
Millstreet 15th – 18th August 2019 CSI2* Grand Prix
Cavan 8th – 10th November CSI1* Grand Prix

All athletes participating in the above classes are eligible for the €10,000 prize bonus regardless of nationality, but to be eligible for the bonus the Athlete must be Podium placed (1st, 2nd or 3rd) at three events in their respective discipline.

Unfortunately, last year’s jumping bonus wasn’t won as no athlete met the eligibility criteria of three podium placings.

Susan Fitzpatrick came very close, having taken second place on the podium in the Mullingar CSI2* Grand Prix and first place on the podium in the Millstreet CSI2* Grand Prix. Susan looked set to score another podium finish at the final challenge event of 2018, the Cavan CSI1*, when making it through to the jump off – but sadly she had a fence down and that out her out of contention.

Looking back on 2018, the bonus challenges certainly encouraged athletes to support and compete at Irish International shows. Horse Sport Ireland are delighted that the €20,000 bonus incentive scheme is running again in 2019 and I hope that both bonuses are won this year.

British event rider Nicola Wilson is off to a great start having already won the CCI 3* S at Ballindenisk earlier this year – she is competing in the CCI3* L at Tattersalls this week and will no-doubt be aiming for another podium finish.

I hope to see more riders supporting the challenges this year and wish all the riders participating the very best of luck for 2019. Horse Sport Ireland are looking forward to the week ahead with both Tattersalls International Horse Trials and Mullingar International taking place. At Tattersalls we sponsor both the live-stream and the main water fence, we will also have a trade stand on-site all week. Horse Sport Ireland are proud co-sponsors of the Mullingar International Grand Prix and we look forward to supporting that event on Bank Holiday Monday.

Sophie D’Alton,

Horse Sport Ireland Marketing Manager



Sophie is from New Ross in Co Wexford and joined Horse Sport Ireland in 2012. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal and Equine Science from UCD and a Higher Diploma in Marketing and Management from DIT.

Sophie’s passion for horses was passed on to her from her parents and at a young age she joined the Wexford Pony Club where she enjoyed competing in everything from pony games to eventing. Sophie now coaches members of the Wexford Pony Club on a regular basis.

An active member of Eventing Ireland, Sophie has competed up to CCI 3* level. Sophie has a new event horse prospect, a five-year-old thoroughbred who she hopes to compete with later in the 2019 season. Sophie also has a passion for breeding and is looking forward to her first foal from her broodmare Valenca, who’s dam is a full sister to the 5* event horses Armada, Nereo and Oplitas. Sophie purchased Valenca in foal to Greg Broderick’s stallion Jorado and is due to foal later this summer.





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