Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring was still in the saddle when he launched the 141st show in the RDS, Dublin, yesterday.
It was just after midday and Mr Ring was delighted to have been left where he was in the Government reshuffle.
“It’s a great job. I love tourism and sport. Tourism figures have increased since the day I came into office, but I have also worked hard at getting them to where they are now,” he said.
The Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show takes place over five days from August 6-10 when over 1,300 horses will compete in 125 competitions and classes for a prizefund of €940,000.
At yesterday’s launch was one of the youngest competitors, Ciara O’Connor, 6, from Gorey, Co Wexford, with her nine-year-old pony, Linksbury Goldilocks, also called Barbie.
Ciara and Barbie will compete in the Lead Rein Class at the show. Ciara, who could ride a horse before she could walk, was awarded fourth place in her first year at the show and came second last year.
“We will be happy with a rosette,” said her leader and aunt, Melissa O’Connor.
Amber Marnane, 11, from Bansha, Co Tipperary with her pony Llananant Barcud, also aged 11, will be competing in the Show Hunter Pony Starter Stakes.
It the third time that Amber, who started riding horses when she was three, has entered the show and was previously awarded second and fourth places.
Towering above the ponies was Irish international showjumper Nicola Fitzgibbon on her horse, Elliot. Nicola, 26, from Kilteel, Co Clare, like Ciara and Amber has been passionate about horses since she was small.
During the week Buck Brannaman, who inspired the character of Tom Brooker in the Nicholas Evans novel, The Horse Whisperer will show off his legendary equestrian skills.
Highlights include the Ladies Day on August 9 and the world renowned Aga Khan Nations’ Cup the following day.
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