Horse show numbers boosted by families and the downturn

THE credit crunch provided a surprise boost for the five-day Fáilte Ireland Dublin Horse Show which ended last evening.

A sizeable increase in the numbers of families attending the event was noted, partly as a result of promotional work by the Royal Dublin Society (RDS).

But it is also believed many people who might have gone abroad for their holidays in August have stayed at home this year due to the recession and went to the horse show instead.

An estimated 80,000 people attended the event which cost €3.7 million to stage and had a prize fund of more than €900,000.

International and national jumping, showing classes, a vast trade display, fashion, entertainment and exhibitions were the main features.

The Medyan FEI Nations Cup for the Aga Khan Trophy was one of the most exciting for years with rank outsiders Italy taking the honours.

RDS chief executive Michael Duffy said the feedback from the show was very positive.

Changes made to the programme generally went down very well. Enhanced facilities at Ballsbridge were also praised.

Good weather also favoured the event, primarily focused on providing a shop window for the Irish sport horse sector, worth more than €400 million a year to the national economy.

Mr Duffy said the response of trade exhibitors, both indoor and outdoor, was very positive, with large crowds not alone attending but also spending money, which was very important.

“The general components of the show worked well,” he said, thanking Fáilte Ireland, the title sponsor, and other companies for their support, and the staff, volunteers and officials for their work.

Mr Duffy said there were no visible signs of the credit crunch at the show. The RDS always listens very carefully to what the 300-plus trade stand exhibitors have to say.

But they uniformly reported they had an extremely good show.

The increase in the numbers of attending was very encouraging and a very welcome development.

However, the show was not all about horses and traders. Diarmuid Murphy, News Ross, Co Wexford, for instance won the Award of Excellence worth €7,000 at the RDS national crafts competition.

The innovative design of his award-winning study desk was inspired from patterns in nature. He also won the RDS new entrants prize (€1,500).

Second place overall, with a €3,500 prize, went to Seamus Cassidy, Navan, Co Meath, for a non-functional wood turning piece.

Dubliner Justyna Truchanowska took the RDS graduate prize, also worth €1,500.

Judges’ chairman Gerald Pullman said many of the craft entrants have a level of skill, talent and competence to bring them to the very top of their medium.

Crafts Council of Ireland chief executive Una Parsons said the award-winning pieces reflect the high level of technical and design skills amongst established and emerging craftspeople.

Meanwhile, the Taylor Art Award worth €10,000 was won by Peter Murphy, Newry, Co Down, with a photograph entitled This Land Again. A total of eight awards were made. There were 500 entries from the country’s art colleges.

A selection of more the 50 photographs of all aspects past horse shows from the Maynes Ansell Archive were also on exhibit at the RDS Library.

A professional photographer, Maynes Ansell, donated the collection in 2004 to the RDS Library which catalogued it, and later digitised it with Heritage Council grant assistance.

The exhibition will remain open to the public until September 25.

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