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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019
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Dublin Horse Show diary day one: carb loading horses and the Boss's daughter

The 141st edition started this morning and TheScore’s new equestrian correspondent was on hand.

Bossing it at the RDS today.
Bossing it at the RDS today.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THERE ARE AS many showbiz journalists at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show as sports ones on day one as rumours of Bruce Springsteen sightings spread like wildfire around the RDS.

So many rumours, so few facts.

“I definitely saw him having a batter burger and chips,” is one.

“He was wearing a fake moustache and baseball cap,” another.

But the award for least likely piece of gossip is undoubtedly “I heard he’s going to play a few songs with the Garda band.”

There were no confirmed sightings in the early stages of the day, nobody was really sure if he would show up or not but that didn’t stop the assembled journalists attempting a pun off, some of which could well end up on tomorrow’s front and back pages.

“Baby, we were born to jump”
“Born in the RDS”
“No glory days for Springsteen’s daughter”

Okay, so maybe there aren’t that many lyrics suitable for show-jumping puns but it speaks volumes of the mix of people the Dublin Horse Show attracts that the potential for a selfie with the Boss is top of so many people’s agenda.

And, again, that’s just the media.

However, there is much, much more going on in the RDS than celeb-spotting and it’s almost overwhelming for someone – namely me – soaking in the atmosphere here for the first time.

For a start, there’s myriad different events taking place at the same time. Some, like the Speed Stakes and Irish Sports Council Classic attract top Irish and international names like Cian O’Connor, Jessica Springsteen and current world number one Scott Brash.

Jessica Springsteen 6/8/2014 Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Then there are others, like the 148cm pony class that took place at 9am this morning in Simmonscourt with mainly family and friends in attendance.

Still, the €240 first prize is probably secondary for the winning combination of Michael James Pender and Doon Ladie. They’ve won their class at the Horse Show and nobody can take that away from them.

Outside of the events, there are any number of stands selling everything from washing machines (no idea) to equestrian gear for babies.

And then there’s people. Lots and lots of people.

For some, like Margaret McMahon from Tipperary, it’s an annual pilgrimage she makes with her family.

“I love coming up and meeting old friends.”

“There’s a great atmosphere in Dublin, and very little of the pretentiousness you can get at some international shows,” she laughs.

The 52-year old has been coming to the RDS for “more years than she cares to remember” and has some sound advice for a novice like myself.

“Don’t get obsessed with the main arena, there’s lots of young kids and amateur riders performing in some of the smaller arenas who might never get the chance to compete in Dublin again.”

General view from today's Dublin Horse Show 6/8/2014 Today's action came in all shapes and sizes. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

It’s unlikely that Susan Fitzpatrick from Kilkenny won’t compete in Dublin again. The 15-year old is a rising star of Irish show-jumping and last weekend won a bronze medal at the European Pony Championships in Millstreet, Cork.

She jumped this morning too but didn’t qualify for her final. However, she’ll have another chance when she competes again tomorrow morning.

The amount of effort it takes to compete, even at such a young age, is phenomenal.

“I train three times a week, doing gymnastic work, pole work and a lot of flat work more than jumping. The other days of the week then I’m doing more flat work at home but we’d never do too much jumping before a show.”

Fitzpatrick, who only completed her junior certificate this summer, has always looked forward to Dublin and started competing in the RDS from the age of 11 winning a category with The Silver Legend one year.

“What makes it great is that you’ve brilliant facilities and you get to see and meet all your friends here. I also get to meet some of the people who have supported me over the year, like Joanne here.”

General view from today's Dublin Horse Show 6/8/2014 Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Joanne is Joanne Hurley of Gain Horse Feeds, a supplier to and sponsor of Team Ireland equestrian of which Fitzpatrick is part.

She explains just how important nutrition is for elite horses but is quick to correct any naive expectations I may have that competitors of the equine variety can ‘carb load’ before big events, much the same way as human athletes do.

“No,” she laughs, “it doesn’t quite work that way with horses.

“Nothing really changes in the build up to a big competition, horses are extremely sensitive in terms of their digestion so you would try not to make any changes in the run up to something like the Dublin Horse Show.”

Dublin Horse Show Jessica Springsteen in action. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

I’ve learned a lot from day one of the Dublin Horse Show but what strikes me most is just how small – and I mean this in a good way – Ireland is. Every time I walk between arenas I come across people bumping into old friends, neighbours or even former adversaries who competed against each other in the RDS years ago.

Some of them have even threatened to put me on a horse at some stage. However, there’s more chance of me sharing a pint with Bruce himself than that.

No glory days for Springsteen as Ireland wins big on day one of the Dublin Horse Show

The Boss is back in town: Bruce Springsteen makes RDS return to see daughter in action

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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