Millstreet International Horse Show begins today and it is big: 1,200 horses and ponies stabled on site, topped up by some 400 daily arrivals, accounting for more than 7,000 entries in the 93 contests at the Cork fixture.
With competitors and their families travelling from the four corners of the country, the logistics of the event are staggering. Up to 15,000 meals are expected to be served at the two restaurants, for which 600kg of potatoes will be needed, while about 5,000 servings of soup will be consumed over the five days.
Thirsts will also need to be quenched, and according to Tap-Class Bar Catering barman Denis Donnelly their initial stock includes 5,000 pints and 3,000 bottles of beer, as well as thousands of soft drinks. With not a hint of irony, he said: “We are expecting a very busy week.”
The most obvious of the impressive figures, however, is the €180,000 in prize money.
It is unsurprising then that the show, which boasts international status for the first time in 12 years, has attracted some of showjumping’s top stars from six nations. France is represented by Global Champions Tour winner Roger-Yves Bost, with British contenders headed by three-times Hickstead winner William Funnell and European team bronze medallist Guy Williams.
A strong list of Irish flag carriers include former world champion Dermott Lennon, Conor Swail and Joan Greene. Tipperary’s nations cup regular Shane Breen is travelling from his base in Hickstead, England, and will be among the favourites to lift Sunday’s €50,000 Millstreet International Grand Prix.
Final preparations were being made yesterday and organisers were hopeful the sunshine would continue to complement the promised hot competition in the seven arenas.
“The forecast is good and we are keeping our fingers crossed,” said spokesman Tadhg Ryan yesterday.
“Regardless, though, we can be guaranteed great sport and a week of fun.”
The action begins today on an exciting note, with the National Eventing Discovery over a specially designed cross-country course, and among those vying for the biggest share of the €4,000 prize fund will be Olympian Michael Ryan.
The international classes commence tomorrow with a grand prix qualifier, followed by a speed class, while Friday’s must-see is a world-ranking class boasting a prize fund of €23,000.
Millstreet is famed as a shop window for Irish breeders, hosting such prestigious classes as The Boomerang, National Discovery, and Young Irelander, all designed to identify equine stars of the future. In addition, the fixture will host Ireland’s richest pony grand prix, with a prize fund of €4,500.
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