Irish Pony Show Jumping team win gold at the 2023 European Championship in Le Mans, France

  • 28 July 2023, 18:19
The GAIN Equine Nutrition Irish Pony Show Jumping Team have made history by winning back-to-back team gold medals at the European Championship in Le Mans, France this afternoon.

The Irish Pony Show Jumping team, from left, James Derwin, Abbie Oakey, GAIN Equine Nutrion Irish Country Manager Philip Gilligan, Irish Youth Programme team vet Tim O’Hagan, Team manager Gary Marshall, Kian Dore, GAIN Equine Nutrition Business Manager Michael Phillips, Emily Moloney and Paddy Reape.
Credit: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Gary Marshall’s team of Kian Dore riding Sparkling Lackamore Joey, Abbie Oakey riding Boutade Ste Hermelle, Paddy Reape riding Fernando, James Derwin riding Rincoola Babog (ISH) and Emily Moloney riding Lady Crown were utterly dominant throughout and finished the competition on a team score of 0 faults.

Ireland began the championships as firm favourites following a historic performance at the championship last year where they won team gold as well as individual gold, silver and bronze medals, added to FEI Youth Nations Cup victories this year  in Opgableek, Compiegne, Zuidwolde and Hagen.

The team got off to a strong start in round one, an unlucky four faults from individual rider Co Kilkenny’s Emily Moloney, riding Lady Crown being discarded, putting Ireland joint at the top of the leaderboard with Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Of the nine teams competing Ireland were the only team to maintain a team score of 0 after the second round, giving them a three-fence cushion over nearest pursuers Sweden.

If the riders were feeling any pressure, a monsoon-like rain shower that caused the final round to be delayed wouldn’t have helped.

When the sun came back out in the French venue for the final round, the Irish team remained cool and composed to add no more faults and win on a dominant final score of zero. Sweden and The Netherlands filled the podium, the former on a score of 12 and the Dutch on 16.

Speaking to Horse Sport Ireland, a delighted Marshall said: “This team have proven why I had such confidence in them to come here and win gold for a second successive championships.

“I really just tried to instil into them that they were the best in Europe, having beaten all the other nations already this season in FEI Nations Cups.

“It was a case of managing their emotions and making sure they kept cool heads – I knew if they did they would win gold and that’s how it transpired. To do it on a perfect score of zero is remarkable and it’s a testament to the support staff that I have and these athletes have.

“We couldn’t do it without these parents, trainers and grooms, the likes of Hayley and Sally-Anne behind the scenes and also Tim, our vet out here. We are very much a team and we have won here because of that team mentality – I’m extremely proud of them all.”

Team sponsor GAIN Equine Nutrition’s Irish Country Manager, Philip Gilligan said: “It is fantastic for the Pony Show Jumping team to be coming home with a gold medal from the European Pony Championships at Le Mans. They are a very talented group of riders and we are delighted with the result. On behalf of everyone at GAIN, I would like to congratulate Gary Marshall and the Pony Show Jumping team on this success.”

The individual show jumping final will take place on Sunday, 30th of July, with all five of the Irish athletes sitting inside the top ten.

Horse Sport Ireland CEO, Denis Duggan added: “This is a brilliant achievement and a huge credit to Gary Marshall and everyone who has helped prepare these athletes to win consecutive gold medals. Following the success of the Young Rider and Junior show jumping teams in Gorla Minore it’s brilliant to see the Pony team win Ireland’s third team gold medal this summer. We wish all the athletes competing across all three disciplines at the Pony European Championships over the course of the weekend the very best of luck.”

Irish Pony Eventing Team lead after dressage

In the Eventing Pony European Championship, the Irish team, managed by Jane Kinsella, are in the lead following the dressage phase. Cross country will take place tomorrow, Saturday 29th of July, and show jumping will being the competition to a close on Sunday.

Ben Connors and Carla Williamson currently are sitting in individual silver and bronze after the first phase. Maxime Goutailler for France is in the lead individually.

Having successfully navigated the dressage phase to lie in first place, Kinsella said: “I am over the moon with our athletes performance in the dressage phase.

“All of our athletes put in really solid performances – to have Ben Connors in silver and Carla Williamson in bronze and the team in pole position is really wonderful. Our athletes are looking forward to taking on tomorrow’s strong, technical cross country challenge.”

The team consists of the following athletes and ponies:

Ciara O’Connor, from Co Wicklow, with Agharanny Minstrel

Carla Williamson, from Co Meath, with Galco

Molly O’Connor, from Co Down, with Coolnaleen Rebel

Ben Connors, from Co Kildare, with Cornafest Fred

Individual combinations are:

Erin Mathieson, from Co Tyrone, with Longwood Dawn

Hannah Willis, from Co Wexford, with Kilnaspic Lily


To follow all the action from the FEI Pony European Championships and from Irish athletes around the world see the HSI socials and website.

The HSI Irish Pony Show Jumping and Eventing teams are kindly supported by

  • GAIN Equine Nutrition
  • Dubarry of Ireland
  • Berney Brothers Saddlery
  • TRM
  • Bucas Ireland
  • UVEX Equestrian
  • Eventing Ireland



Rincoola Babog (ISH) – 2011 stallion by Luidam (KWPN) out of Rincoola Abu (ISH) by Cruising [TIH](ISH). Breeder: Harold McGahern. Owner: Jim Derwin. Rider: James Derwin (IRL)

Sparkling Lackaghmore Joey (UNK) – 2013 gelding. Owner: Edel Dore. Rider: Kian Dore (IRL)

Fernando (UNK) – 2010 gelding by Contendro (HOLST) out of Lena. Breeder: Sean Judge. Owner: Jonathan Reape. Rider: Paddy Reape (IRL)

Cornafest Fred (CP) – 2013 gelding by Gwennic De Goariva (CP) out of Corrnafest Nora (CP). Breeder: Thomas Grimes. Owner: Kieran Connors and Michelle Nelson. Rider: Ben Connors (IRL).

Longwood Dawn (CP) – 2013 gelding by I Love You Melody (CP) out of Dawn Delite (CP). Breeder: Conor O’Meara. Owner: Hilary Mathieson. Rider: Erin Mathieson (IRL).

Agharanny Minstrel (CP) – 2007 stallion by Castleside J.J (CP) out of Silver Mint (CP). Breeder: Sean Hynes. Owner: Noreen O’Connor and Sharon O’Connor. Rider: Ciara O’Connor (IRL).

Coolnaleen Rebel (ISH)[TIH] – 2010 gelding by Rebel Mountain (ID) out of Crested Ten Lady (IRE)(TB). Breeder: Noeleen Redmond. Owner: Paul O’Connor. Rider: Molly O’Connor (IRL).

Galco (UNK) – 2014 gelding. Owner: Janet Williamson. Rider: Carla Williamson (IRL)

Kilnaspic Lily (ISH) – 2013 mare by Woodfield Sammy (CP) out of Our Queen (UNK). Breeder: Anneline O’Malley Neary. Owner: Laura Bowe. Rider: Hannah Willis (IRL).