SIXTEEN-year-old Bláthnaid Doherty has been notified that her stellar performances in 2019 will be recognised at the Showjumping Ireland Ulster Region Awards Dinner in Corrick House on February 8.
A mainstay of the hugely successful Holy Cross College equestrian team in recent years, the GCSE student excelled individually last year also.
She enjoyed a thoroughly successful and rewarding Ulster Region Autumn Pony Tour, which saw competitors in action across no less than eight venues, including Cavan, Portmore and Coleraine.
The talented rider excelled on Erganagh Canaderry, who completed the season without dropping a single pole as Bláthnaid finished fifth overall out of 56 competitors.
She also finished joint first on Erganagh Canaderry at the Northern Indoor Championships and was eighth at the prestigious Cavan Pony Championships.
While she admits that she ‘can’t wait’ for the awards dinner, Bláthnaid was keen to pay tribute to her favourite pony, Erganagh Canaderry: “She has a great feeling when she jumps,” explained Bláthnaid, who admitted it took time to build a rapport with this particular mount.
“I’m very pleased with how things went, but I’m more pleased with her because she did very well.”
Unfortunately for Bláthnaid, her competitive partnership with Erganagh Canaderry has to come to an end because at 16 years-of-age, she now has to move up to the horse ranks as a ‘Young Rider’.
However, while she’ll obviously miss her pony, taking the step up is something she’s eagerly anticipating
“I’m looking forward to stepping up to horses next and I’m excited but they are much bigger and harder to steer,” she added. “Horses have different paces – ponies are very quick on their feet, whereas horses can be slower – so it will take time to adapt.”
At present, Bláthnaid is on the look out for a horse or for the opportunity to ride for someone. She has been schooling with Richard Smyth at Mulvin Stables, and is hoping to find a mount for 2020 and beyond in the near future.
It’s perhaps not overly surprising that Bláthnaid has developed a passion for the equine, given her maternal great-grandfather, Patsy McElroy, was chief groom
to the Irish showjumping team back in the day, his brother Dickie was a great jockey in England, and his other brother John had a breeding yard in the Curragh, while her mother Marie’s cousin Ben McElroy has a big yard in America!