The 4th annual Ulster Schools Derby took place on Thursday 18 June at Gransha Equestrian Centre. The event, organised by Glenlola Collegiate School, has become firmly established, and was once again supported by competitors from all over Northern Ireland. The day began with the Primary School class, sponsored by Autokleen. The class was won by Megan Nelson representing Spa Primary School. Tack and turnout for this class was awarded to Lucy Kayes of Cedar Integrated Primary School.
This year saw the introduction of a new class, the Nervous Novice, for those pupils who are new to competing. This was won by Caitlin McKechnie of Bangor Academy and Sixth Form Centre. Riding Pontoon Flyer, Caitlin was presented with her winner’s rug, which was sponsored by Knott’s Bakery, Newtownards. Turnout for this class was awarded to Troy Watson representing Down high School.
The busiest class of the day was the Novice class with 46 competitors. Sponsored by McDonald’s Restaurant, Bangor, the Individual Champion was Rachel McCartney representing Ballyclare High School. Jessica McConnell, Hannah McCartney, Alexandra McConnell and Emma Ewing who represented Ballyclare Secondary School were crowned Novice Team Champions. Tiarna Drake, representing St. Comcille’s Crossgar, won the Novice turnout prize.
The final class of the day was the Open class with 18 competitors. Sponsored by Botanica, the Individual Open Champion was Charis Vinaccia of Down High School riding Derry Mac. The Down High School ‘Flyers’ consisting of Charis Vinaccia, Alex Cleland, Jessica Nelson and Tily Horder were Open Team Champions. Down High School ‘swept the board’ when Alex Cleland won the Turnout prize for the Open competition.
Noah Brown, who competed for RBAI, was the highest fundraiser on the day and was awarded an iPod Shuffle. £350 will now be donated to Cancer Focus NI.
Thanks must go to Adrienne Stuart, proprietor of Gransha Equestrian Centre, who designed the course and provided the facilities; to the many sponsors to whom we are indebted; and to those Schools who supported the event. Many thanks must also go to the staff and pupils at Glenlola Collegiate who gave their time to ensure the smooth running of the day. Finally, to Paul Johnston (Judge), John Wilkinson (gate man) and Katy Wray (Tack Inspector) for their time and expertise.